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Old car for profit: should you sell it for parts or as one piece?

Your car will eventually reach its use-by date and will become uneconomical to repair. While some people leave old rotting cars on their property until they are a rusted hulk, it’s actually a better option to get what you can for it, unless you’re going to buy the exact same car again and you want to retain your old junker as a donor car.

You can sell it for parts or as one piece. The option you choose depends on the type of car, the amount of time you’re prepared to put in and whether you have the right tools.

Selling an old car for parts

When you sell your car for parts, make sure you’re prepared:

  • a place to store the parts
  • the tools and chemicals to strip the car down and clean the parts
  • a place to dispose of the fluids safely
  • the time (and patience) to clean the parts up enough so they’re worth something on an online marketplace
  • the ability to price the parts at a good market rate
  • shipping and packing materials

You are effectively doing the same as a wrecker would.

It can be very effective, especially if you have custom parts that are rare, or if you’ve recently spent some money on the vehicle (e.g. four new tyres).

If the engine works, but it’s just the rest of the car that’s not roadworthy, you’ll probably get almost as much as the wrecker will give you just for that on its own; the rest is profit, but bear in mind it can take a while to get the engine out of the car and you need good tools.

However, there are also some drawbacks to selling a car for parts. First of all, it can be challenging to find buyers for all the different parts, and you may end up with a lot of leftover parts since some parts are difficult to sell, like the boot liner and carpets, and things that are used beyond their commercial life. Plus, there will be dangerous elements that contain air bags. 

You’ll also need to spend time dismantling the car and taking pictures of each part, plus packaging them up for shipping.

Selling an old car as one piece

You may be thinking how can I sell my broken car? When you sell a car as one piece, it is easy to save you time and money. You can sell it to a private party through Facebook Marketplace or other websites. The advantage of selling a car as one piece is that it’s usually quicker and easier than selling each part separately. Hence, no extra costs are associated with selling as one piece, such as packaging and shipping.

A wrecker should be able to collect your car from your property, but check whether there are any fees.

Two cars loaded in the bodywork a flatbed truck on a white background

Factors to consider

Now that you know the two main options for selling an old car, let’s recap on what you need to think about when you make the decision:

  • How much money do you want to make?
  • How much time are you willing to put in?
  • How much work do you want to do?
  • What are the parts of the car worth?
  • Can you find buyers for all the parts?
  • Are there any extra costs associated with selling each part separately (packaging, shipping, etc.)?

Finally, is your car collectible and, if so, have you spoken to enthusiasts of the marque. You might find an avenue for your vehicle or the parts by talking to people who either like taking these projects on, or have a project car of their own and they need a donor car for parts.

When making your decision, keep these factors in mind to help you choose the best option for selling your old car.

Selling an old car can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. By considering all your options and taking the time to research, you can make the best decision for yourself and your car. With a little effort, you can turn that old car into cash. 

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

Posted in Advice
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