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The True Value Of My Junk Car.

Updated on January 18, 2013

My Junker.

What Is This Car Worth?

My wife and I needed a car her last year of residency and as luck would have it, some friends of ours had a 1997 VW Passat GLS for sale. We purchased the car for $400 and immediately had to put $393 into it for new brakes pads, rotors, and emergency brake cable. After a year we replaced the battery at a cost of $96 and the cost of oil changes so far has been $140. So all together we have spent less than $1200 on this car to keep it maintained. As far as gas mileage, I get 34 miles to the gallon on the highway and 21 in the city.

This hub is the result of researching retail part prices and as a followup to one of my other Hubs, "Cash For Junk Cars: Who Really Profits From Buying Your Junk Car?". A visiting reader to hub pages made a single sentence comment that read, "Written By An Idiot", in all capital letters. Now I am not upset about the comment, every reader is entitled to agree or disagree with what they read so I did some research so that this idiot would be better informed. This is what I discovered about the real value of my Passat.

I contacted three "cash for cars" dealers and made an appointment for them to come see the car and give me an idea of what it is worth. The value from each of the junk car buyers was $325, $300, and $350. The offers made after finding out the car was fully operational was $450, $600, and $675. The rational given was that the car has high mileage and with that kind of mileage it is not worth anything to them other than wholesale price.

After car buyers left I started my research on the value of various components that make up the car. I compiled a list of parts that I felt would sell quick and looked up them up to obtain the retail price for each part. The list had 40 individual parts that are common consumer parts needed to repair accident damage and normal wear and tear usage. The comparison prices were obtained by searching salvage yards for salvaged parts. These parts are not reconditioned or rebuilt, they are parts that have been or can be removed from a car in a salvage yard in "as is" condition. In fact, two of the yards I searched for prices at were owned by one of the gentleman who came out to my house to value my Passat.

Here is my list: 2.0 L engine ($450), 90 amp alternator ($40), Heater Motor ($40), Starter ($50), Wiper Motor ($40), Transmission ($400), Nose Panel ($25), Radiator Support Assembly ($175), Front Bumper ($300), Rear Bumper($400), Front Doors right and left ($250 each=$500), Rear Doors right and left ($250 each=$500), Front fender left and right ($75 each=$150), Door Mirrors-heated, electric ($65 each=$130), Hood ($125), Grille ($45), Quarter Panels rear left and right ($250=$500), Radiator ($90), Headlamp Assembly ($80 each=$160), Parking Lamps ($90 each=$180), Rear Taillight Assembly ($45 each=$90), A/C Compressor ($75), Steel Rims ($75 each=$300), Electric Window Regulators ($60 left front, $80 right front=$140, $60 for rear doors=$120), Cooling Fan ($85), and Heater Core ($45).

According to the salvage yard in my area and around the country, retail prices for salvaged parts on my list are $5155. If I had sold the car to the highest paying salvage dealer he would make a profit of $4480 for an operational vehicle. If I had sold my car in a non-running condition the profit for the salvage dealer would be $4805. Even if they only charged half on the prices mentioned above the profits would still be $2240 for a drivable car and $2402.50 for a parts vehicle.

If I had sold the vehicle to the salvage dealers, they could profit over $4000 from my vehicle. If I strip the vehicle for every serviceable part myself, I can put the parts in the newspaper, on Craig's List, or E-Bay and make at least three times what a salvage dealer would pay me for my vehicle. Most people do not know there is still value in a vehicle, even one that is no longer operational. The value of a "junker" is in the individual components of the vehicle not the vehicle as a whole.


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    • flacoinohio profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Ohio

      This was based on my area and this Hub is also over two years old.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      In my area these parts are typically 2-3 times cheaper. I had in the past few occasion to look at this stuff and I think this article over stated the unknown for most people.Set of steel rims for 300 bucks - c'mon ...

    • always1225 profile image


      2 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

      Your car or junk car is worth its weights. Most juck car buyers pay by the weight of the vehicle.

    • profile image

      Caleb Hart 

      3 years ago

      I have always loved going to scrap yards for car parts. With a little bit of elbow grease, you can get some pretty cheap parts. I'm looking to replace an entire engine next month. Do you think I'll be able to find one of those in a scarp yard?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      That's revenue -- not profit. Subtract all the junkyard's expenses to get gross profit

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      This is very interesting. Unfotunately, we here at the mercy of these guys having no way to estimate the value of individual parts and parting the car.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      very cool to know. in this case it sounds like a win-win, $450-675 for YOU would be great to get for this car that's cost you so little. and for the salvage dealer, making profit from nothing is the whole premise of his job, so he's able to get a good deal that will potentially/eventually make him a good profit.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      Hmm, that's interesting. I know my husband has parted out cars this way. I'll have to tell him that what he's doing is really smart. Thanks for sharing.


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