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Summary
  • Perhaps the most obvious sign to junk your car is if your repair bills are worth more than the vehicle’s original value.
  • If you think your vehicle is unsafe to drive and selling it will only put others at risk, you might want to think about junking it instead.
  • Leaving your car in the junkyard might seem like a simple process, but there might be some legal steps involved, depending on where you’re staying.

Cars are meant to stick around for a long time, but recurring problems, regular wear and tear, and outdated features greatly affect their resale value.

You’ll come across some vehicles that are so beyond repair that the only way to get some money out of them is by leaving them in the junkyard.

When to Junk Your Car: The Golden Rule

Perhaps the most obvious sign to junk your car is if your repair bills are worth more than the vehicle’s original value.

It’s best to let go of your vehicle when it’s creating expensive problems for you, and it’s come to the point that buying a new car will make a lot more sense and cost less.

Other Reasons to Say Goodbye

old car ready to be junked
It’s best to let go of your vehicle when it’s creating expensive problems for you, and it’s come to the point that buying a new car will make a lot more sense and cost less.

Here are some telltale signs that your vehicle may be better off sent to the junkyard:

Your Safety Is at Risk

Malfunctioning airbags, recurring braking system issues, and faulty seat belt mechanisms are some of the problems you might find in many vehicles regardless of their age.

If you think your vehicle is unsafe to drive and selling it will only put others at risk, you might want to think about junking it instead.

Nobody Wants to Buy Your Car

Students and first-time owners will usually find the car of their dreams in the used car market, especially those who are working with a tight budget. You’ll find all sorts of vehicles, ranging from classic ones to the newest models available.

Unfortunately, not all vehicles end up getting sold. And with resale values dropping each year, some are left to be as good as scrap.

Drivers will usually put up their old cars for sale in the used car market to try and get a decent amount for them. But for those who’ve had no luck for quite some time, it might be best to junk their vehicles instead.

Your Car Has More Broken Parts than Working Ones

Selling a car with a busted transmission and a sputtering engine might seem like a long shot一unless you find a grease monkey who’s dedicated enough to bring the machine back to life.

Any used car buyer would want their next car to have minimal issues, but if you’re trying to sell a vehicle that has more broken parts than working ones, you might not be able to sell it at all.

There’s No Vehicle Title

Let’s say you have a vehicle that you bought from someone else. After putting a couple of miles on it, you’ve decided you want to upgrade to a newer model.

Unfortunately, you never got the title in the first place and the previous owner is now unreachable. Most people in a similar situation decide to junk their old vehicles instead. Why?

Well, it’s illegal to sell a vehicle without handing over the proper documentation. If you’re buying from someone who offers nothing else but a verbal contract, the sale may not be legally binding.

Vehicle owners who don’t have a vehicle title usually feel that obtaining the necessary documents in this situation is an extremely time-consuming, expensive, and tedious process.

Some might even argue that the entire ordeal costs more than what their vehicles are worth, which is why junking their vehicles seemed like a better option.

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Protocols for Junking Your Car

Here are some things to keep in mind before junking your car.

Check State Regulations

Leaving your car in the junkyard might seem like a simple process, but there might be some legal steps involved, depending on where you’re staying.

In California, for example, you’ll need to submit an application to the DMV stating that your vehicle can now be recorded as “junk.”

As the owner, you’ll need to pay an investigative fee and submit evidence of ownership (vehicle title, sale documents, or a salvage title). You might also need to hand out a motor vehicle bond.

Double Check Your Valuables

Once you’ve decided that junking your car is the best way to go, the next step is to double-check your vehicle for any valuables you might have left behind.

Be sure to check under the seats, in the glove box, trunk, and other obscure places where identification papers, licenses, and other important documents could be found.

Salvage Functional Parts

Junking the entirety of your vehicle will get you a couple of bucks, but if you take it apart and save all the good parts, you might get a few more dollars out of it.

Do Your Research

When looking for a salvage yard, you must do your research.

Be sure to choose one with the right licenses. This will ensure that the salvaging process is legal and the business adheres to the government’s environmental standards.

Compare Offers

Junkyard offers can vary, and it won’t hurt to be meticulous about where to leave your vehicle. You’re looking to get the best possible offer when junking your vehicle, so it’s best to take your time.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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