3 Ways to Get the Most Money for Your Old Car

by Sherrian Crumbley on October 31, 2011

in Personal Finance

Money For Your Old Car

Recently, I had to get rid of my old Toyota Camry after years of faithful service.  It was a 1993 and the transmission was on its last leg (kind of like my laptop).  We knew we were not going to put any more money into the car, given its current value compared to the cost of fixing the transmission, and also considering how much longer it could last us and the cost to maintain it until then. That’s when we decided to research ways to get money for your old car.

Also, we were blessed with the gift of a newer vehicle around the time the transmission started to go, so it all worked out!  It did not make sense to continue to pay insurance on the Camry once we got the newer Ford, and so we considered these 3 options for getting rid of our car.

3 Ways To Get Money For Your Old Car

Donate to Charity

This seems like a very popular option for a lot of people nowadays.  It is as simple as a phone call, and some charities will pick up/tow the vehicle at no cost to you.  The benefit of donation is that it is tax deductible if the correct steps are taken.

First, it is important to make sure the charity is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization.  Second, you will have to itemize on your taxes in order to get money for your old car.  Further instructions regarding the proper way to calculate fair market value for your automobile, qualified charities, and the correct documentation for the contribution can be retrieved from the IRS website.

Salvage Yard

Selling your vehicle to a salvage yard is another quick option to get rid of a useless vehicle.  You will probably get less money than the value you would have reported to the government on your taxes if you had chosen to donate, but if you prefer cash-in-hand, it is a great option.  Also, you are able to compare what different yards are willing to give you for your vehicle.  That comparison will help you get the most money for your old car.

If your car is running, they will be able to look at it there and give you a price.  If your vehicle needs to be towed, you are more at the mercy of whoever tows it in, and their assessment once it gets to the yard.  At that point, the value for them may be based on the value of the individual parts, or the weight of the metal.

Also, they will subtract the fee for the tow from the assessed price.

Private Sale

Advertising the sale of your vehicle is another common approach that allows you to ask for the price you believe it is worth.  Many people are interested in cars, even if it’s just for parts, and sites like craigslist are a great place to find an audience for such offerings.

Although self-advertising is time consuming, and may not produce an immediate response, some people find this route rewarding if they are not in a hurry to make money on their old car.

How I Got Money For My Old Car

Before the transmission started to go, we originally wanted to give the Camry away to someone who could use it, but we did not want to burden anyone with this repair.  If your old car is in decent condition, giving it to someone in your life that needs it is a generous option if money is not a consideration.

We opted to sell our car to a local salvage yard because of the convenience, their reputation, and my comfort – having dealt with them on numerous occasions over the last 10 years.  We plan to use the money in our goal to pay off debt.

Your turn:

Have you ever made money on your old car?

What do you think is the best option?

© 2011 – 2013, Sherrian Crumbley. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment

Please note: Use of comments that are off-topic, personal attacks or contain profanity in the field below and/or any links, may be removed at my discretion. Also, by submitting a comment here you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kembala

Great post Sherrian! That’s so considerate of you not to want to burden anyone with a car that may be a money pit.

The only time I ever made money on an old car is with a trade in and some serious negotiating! With trade ins – it helps when you bought it low and get a car with a high resale value.



I made money from my old car by selling it to carmax. I’m sure I could have made more via private sale. But, I was lazy and wanted to sell quickly.


3 SB @ One Cent At A Time

I would go for pvt sale via Craigslist ads first, then I would try for Car max and at the end would try for a trade in.


4 Lisa @ Cents To Save

Both of our Camrys are over 11 years old. My husband is a mechanic and keeps them going. I zam hoping we get another 10 years from them!


5 cashflowmantra

We have sold old cars and given them away. One gift was actually used for another 4 years which made me feel good that it was useful, but made me wonder if I should have kept it longer myself.


6 mbhunter

Man, the transmission on our minivan just went. :) Our mechanic will buy it for more than a “cash for your junk car” guy would, so I’m happy.


7 Marie at FamilyMoneyValues

I gave my last car to my son, who was able to sell it at Car Max for a tidy sum.


8 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

My dad donated his old car to charity. Definitely something I plan to do with my car in the far future too.


{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: