NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When car owners decide to replace their rides, they often focus on getting new car estimates, costing out prospective insurance policies and calculating how much money they might need to afford the extra features they want. When it comes to disposing of an old vehicle, however, the focus seems to be more on convenience, less on cash.
But is there really a way to make a profit off of that old jalopy taking up space in your driveway? MainStreet consulted the experts and discovered that your options are, admittedly, somewhat limited.
John Sternal, spokesperson for LeaseTrader.com, pointed out that selling a car for its metal is not likely to generate much cash these days, especially in light of Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami, which increased the "inventory" of destroyed cars and drove down the current value of scrap metal.
According to Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com, trying to sell a car’s individual parts can be equally unprofitable, and even more time-consuming. “It might work for older cars, but you need to be experienced working with vehicles,” he says.
This essentially leaves consumers with two options: Donate your old car to charity, which qualifies for a tax deduction, or try to sell the entire car yourself to an independent buyer.
“The car may have no value to you, but there’s almost always a buyer out there that it does have some value for,” Reed says, citing, for instance, car aficionados who make a hobby out of flipping old vehicles.
“Old cars are actually worth more today than many people may think, due to the economy,” agrees LeeAnn Shattuck, owner of Women's Automotive Solutions, a consulting firm that helps women buy and sell cars. She relayed a story in which a client recently replaced her old 1996 Jeep Cherokee with a new car.
“The Jeep had a bad header on the engine and did not run at all. It would only have been worth $100 on trade or about $200 to a junk yard,” Shattuck recalls, adding that ultimately, the owner sold the car on Craigslist for $1,100.