Here's How To Sell a Non-Running Car


What you should know about selling a damaged car or a car that no longer runs.

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What do you do when the old Toyota Camry that's been in your family for years no longer runs? Or the Honda S2000 project car you acquired some years ago isn't getting any of the attention you thought you'd be able to give it? Or have you totaled your small SUV in a wreck and you're not insured? One option is to try to sell the car as-is. If your car is non-running and isn't covered by insurance for repairs, you'll have to foot the bill to either get it to run again or try to recoup some money by selling it. So, what do you need to know about putting a non-running car up for sale?

Sell A Damaged Car Sell A Salvage Car
Sell A Damaged Car
Sell A Salvage Car

What Is a Non-Runner, And Is My Vehicle Actually Inoperable?

When it comes to selling broken cars, there is a difference between selling a running vehicle with some repair work pending and selling a vehicle that is inoperable. Let's have a look at how to decide which category your car falls into:

  • Identify the problem - Does the car start and run? If not, try to determine the reason for it so that you can move on to the next step. It may be worthwhile getting it checked out by a professional so you can see whether it's an easy and affordable fix or not.
  • Determine whether it's worth fixing - If your car's been totaled in an accident and is not worth fixing, you'll want to look at selling it for parts. If the car has a shaky engine or if there are grinding noises coming from the transmission system, it's likely that the repairs will be quite expensive. If the car's safety has been compromised to any extent, you'll also have to get it repaired or scrap it. Ultimately, if the costs of repairing your car exceed your car's current market value, it won't be worthwhile. Read more about cars with salvage titles here.
  • Get your car fixed or sell it as is - If you've determined that repairing your car is worth pursuing and you'll still be able to make some money selling it afterward, then you can go ahead and put an ad up for potential buyers. If it's simply too expensive for you to fix, then you'll need to figure out how to sell your non-running car.

There are two types of buyers of a non-running car, the first being those that do have the finances to repair or rebuild it (as the cost may be in their budget, even if it isn't in yours, or this is a project car to them) or those who want to use the vehicle for spare parts or other non-driving reasons.

Whether it's a pickup truck or an old-fashioned muscle car that's been standing around your yard waiting for your attention, here's how to sell a non-runner.

Sell a Non Running Car Selling Broken Cars
Sell a Non Running Car
Selling Broken Cars

How To Sell A Non-Running Car

There are various paths you can take to sell a non-running car depending on its condition and how much money you're looking to get. Here's what to do with a car that is not worth fixing:

  • Car Dealerships - Not all car dealers are willing to buy non-running cars and even if they are, they'll likely give you an offer that's far below what the vehicle is worth and/or have overly strict requirements. The dealer will subject the car to thorough inspections to determine its condition and value and then take commission and profit into account before making an offer, which they may not even do after it all. Selling to a dealership is certainly not the best way to sell a non-running car unless you're just looking to get rid of it fast and aren't overly concerned about how much you get for it.
  • Advertise Online - Online is perhaps the best place to sell non-running cars as there are always people looking to buy non-working cars to either fix to use or resell or to rebuild for fun. There are a lot of people who can't afford to buy brand new or even secondhand, so many buyers will consider a non-running car that they can then fix themselves or get repaired if it'll cost them less than the purchase of an operational vehicle. You can advertise and even auction your car off on sites such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Craigslist.
  • Junk or Scrapyards - If you need to sell a wrecked car, junkyards and scrap yards are the most likely to buy faulty or damaged cars. Junkyards strip the car for any working parts they can resell them to private buyers or repair shops. They certainly won't pay much for the car and will also want to do inspections, but it may be better than having an inoperable vehicle deteriorating even further on your property. Scrapyards will pay you an amount based on the weight of the car in tons as they focus on recycling the scrap metal. They will, however, charge for processing fees and towing, so you likely won't be getting much at all.
  • Sell it for Parts - If you have the expertise, you can strip your vehicle yourself and sell the working parts online. This will take a lot of time and effort and you'll have to manage all administration and marketing etc. You'll likely be able to get a lot more money this way than if you just sell your non-running car to a junkyard or scrapyard, but it does of course come at the cost of your time and will use up space on your property.
  • Donate Your Car - If you can't sell your car that doesn't run, you might consider donating it to a person or charity that would benefit from it. Doing this won't earn you any money but you could get a tax exemption if the charity is qualified by the IRS. You'll need to list the tax exemption on Schedule A of your 1040 tax forms and when you finally apply for your deductions, you'll need proof that vehicle was donated and that the tax-deductible is worth at least $250.
Buy Damaged Car Buy Non Running Cars
Buy Damaged Car
Buy Non Running Cars


How do I sell a non-running car online?

You can sell your non-running vehicle on websites such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Craigslist. You'll need to take and upload photos of your car and provide any information on its condition and pertaining to its license and registration papers. The same principles that apply to preparing a car for sale apply here, minus the detailing and washing, if the car has been in a wreck.

Where can I buy non-running cars?

You can buy non-running cars from junkyards and specific online third-party sellers. Specialized auctions may also be held for such vehicles.

Can I sell my non-running car for cash?

Yes, most dealers of non-running cars will, in fact, pay cash for the cars, scrap metal, and parts, as the value of a non-running car is generally very low.

Who is most likely to buy my non-running car?

Junkyards and scrapyards are the most likely to buy non-running cars but you may have some luck with private buyers that want to build a car up as a project or use the parts for another vehicle, depending on what car you're selling.

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