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How to sell a car for parts

minute read

    When a car reaches the end of its road, it’s generally time to part ways. That doesn’t mean, however, that your car can’t provide one last bit of value before you say goodbye. They say the sum is greater than its parts, but that’s not exactly true with old cars. Sometimes, it’s possible to extract more value selling a car part-by-part. Let’s look at how to sell a car for parts, and whether that’s the right decision for you.

    Should I sell my car for parts, or sell it whole?

    If your car is still in running condition, you can likely just sell it as a used car. However, if the car isn’t really in a condition to sell — essentially a junk car, you have a few options:

    • You could still try to sell it, possibly to someone looking for a project car.
    • You could sell or give away the car to a salvage yard.
    • It may be possible in some cases (and depending on the condition of the car) to donate the vehicle to a charitable cause.

    In all the above scenarios, you’ll likely be able to get rid of the vehicle and receive compensation (typically cash, or a tax deduction in the case of a donation). If you go this route, it’ll help to know the fair market value for the car as well as an estimate of the anticipated repairs, which you may need to deduct from your asking price.

    On the other hand, you could decide you’d rather try to sell the car part-by-part instead. This requires significantly more time and effort but has the potential to be more lucrative in the long run.

    How to part out a car and sell it

    The process of how to part out a car has a few different steps:

    Taking inventory

    The first thing you’ll need to do if you decide to part out a car is to take inventory of what your car has that might offer some value. For most people, this will require a mechanic’s assistance. Your mechanic can help you determine the condition of individual parts, determine which ones you could sell and maybe even help you price them out. Important parts to look over include:

    • Engine
    • Transmission
    • Catalytic converter
    • Airbags
    • GPS and infotainment systems
    • Electronics systems
    • Lights
    • Interior and exterior body parts like seats, glass, fenders, doors and more

    Doing comparative research

    Once you’ve got a list of salvageable parts, it’s time to do a little market research to see what a fair value would be for them. Sadly, there’s no one source for this information, so you’ll likely need to spend some time on this phase. Your mechanic may be able to assist, but it’s best to check out a few different marketplaces so you can establish an average selling price for all the parts.

    Establishing fair pricing

    Once you know what each part is worth, it’s time to figure out what you can sell it for. It’s best to also factor in things like packaging materials, marketplace transaction fees and shipping costs — failing to do so could eat into any profits you’d hoped to make.

    Removing the parts

    Next, it’s time to remove the parts from your car. Parting out a car requires a lot of space and specialized equipment that the average person is unlikely to have access to. There may also be hazardous chemicals or fluids that may be released during this process, which require special protective equipment and have specific disposal protocols. This is best handled professionally by a mechanic.

    Creating listings

    Once you’ve parted everything out, the next step is to write the ads that will help you find buyers for these parts. It’s best to be upfront with relevant details like the make, model and year of the part. This helps prospective buyers find your listing more easily. It also helps to be transparent about the condition of the part so that your listing seems more trustworthy, and buyers have less leverage to try to negotiate you down.

    When considering places to put your listing, don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to just the popular social media marketplaces out there. There are also plenty of dedicated car sales and trade sites you might try. You could also consider putting up listings on specific forums for your car type or manufacturer, which might help increase your odds of finding an interested buyer for that specific part.

    Making sales

    Once your ads are up, it’s time to wait for inquiries, negotiate with interested buyers and then sell and ship the parts to whoever bought them. That’s easy enough to do when it comes to smaller parts like a GPS system, but figuring out how to ship larger components like the engine or the seats may present a potential challenge if the buyer isn’t local.

    In summary

    For many people, reaching the end of the road with their car typically means selling it to the next buyer. However, when a car is no longer functioning, you can either get rid of it in one go or by parting it out. If you’re willing to put in the additional time and effort, learning how to sell a car for parts can potentially help you get a little more value out of a vehicle that’s no longer useful.

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