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Seven possible ways to dispose of your old vehicle

Updated on June 25, 2013

Have a wrecked car, truck or van?

What to do with my old car?

There are many ways of legally disposing or removing an unwanted vehicle. This article will review the advantages and disadvantages of each.

1. Sale of the vehicle to a private party: Selling your vehicle to a private seller is most often the option that will secure the highest sale price for your car, truck or van. With a sale to an individual, you can expect to receive an amount close to it's Kelley Blue Book value. The primary benefit is that you usually receive the maximum price for the car compared to the other options. The disadvantages can include: the length of time before you find a buyer, which is an unknown and the headaches related to advertising, coordinating "test-drives" and negotiating a final price with potential buyers.

2. Provide the vehicle as a gift: Do you have a friend, relative or loved one that could use the car?

3. Donate the car to charity: Cars can be donated to charitable organizations. The present value is deductible on your income taxes. The tax laws vary from year to year and are dependent on your location. Your overall tax situation for that tax year can effect the amount that is actually tax deductible also. You should consult your tax professional before pursuing this route.

4. Auto dealership trade-in: Assuming that your intent is to purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer has an incentive to buy your old car as part of the agreement. The hidden reality is often that the dealership's offer to buy is 15-20% lower that what can be gained through a sale to a private party. Be aware that the dealership may make a fair market-based offer for your car, but conversely inflate the new vehicle price to absorb the difference.

5. Sell the car for scrap: Most major US cities have scrap or vehicle removal facilities for auto disposal. This option is best when the vehicle is not running and is thus less appealing to a potential buyer. Most major cities have several auto recycling companies that will include towing of the vehicle as an extra benefit to scrapping your car.

6. Sell the car for parts: You may have the opportunity to locate a vehicle owner or auto recycler that is actively seeking parts for your vehicle's make and model. The possibility of selling them the complete vehicle at a solid price may present itself if they can use the parts.

7. Repair the car and keep it: If the reality is such that your car, truck or van is unable to be sold at a fair price, it may be worth spending the money to refurbish the car. Many auto body shops can paint a vehicle for an affordable price and your auto repair shop may be able to repair the remaining flaws.

Tom Maddox


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