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Old 09-25-2010, 07:21 PM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Posts: 36,058
Selling A Car For Parts - How Much Below Bluebook?

My venerable car (1994 Cutlass Ciera S), which has served me heroically for so long, has finally contracted a terminal disease: the cooling system is thisclose to complete failure. According to my mechanic (whom I trust implicitly...we've been going to them for almost 6 years now and they've not only never cheated me, they've given me some great loyal-customer deals), it will cost me over $1000 to bring everything back up to normal running condition. That, unfortunately, hits the wall for me...I've probably put over $4000 into it to keep it running this long already, and it really makes no sense at all to keep shoveling dollar bills into the poor thing.

So, I'd like to sell it. I doubt whatever easy-credit car dealer I end up going to is going to want it as a trade-in, close as it is to that big junkyard in the sky. So I'm likely to have to sell it for parts.

My question, then, is this: How much below the Kelly Bluebook price is a reasonable point to offer it at? Bluebook for a 1994 Ciera S is $1900-$2000. I don't want to end up giving it away for a pittance, but I don't want to look like an idiot for pricing a parts car too high. Other than the cooling system, it runs fine. It has some post-market interior parts (seats have been replaced, steering wheel as well (though a different color than the rest of the car), the driver-side door controls module is unattached but still has intact wiring and works well).

Thanks, folks!
Old 09-25-2010, 07:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Malden, Massachusetts
Posts: 372
I would do the following information-gathering first:

1. Call a couple of local junkyards just to find out what they'd pay you. I junked a car earlier this year and got $150, but this will vary based on the current value of scrap metals, and probably your location too.

2. Go on Craigslist and try to find similar cars in functional condition and see what they're going for.

After that.... does your car run and drive? Is it still registered? It's one thing to have a true parts car that's not worth's quite another to have a car that needs repairs, but is still functional.

I occasionally buy old cars to fix up and resell. From my point of view, your car is worth more to me if I can hear it run, test drive it, and use your plates/insurance to drive it home instead of having it towed.

Even though it needs $1000 in cooling system repairs at the mechanic, someone who's handy could do the labor him/herself with maybe some used parts, and it might be worthwhile.

Again, do a little looking on Craigslist. I'd say if it's a real junker, you could maybe try asking $3-400 and hope someone who needs parts will buy it from you. On the other hand, if you can honestly say "runs, drives, needs work, sold as is," maybe $800 or even $1000 if it looks decent.
Old 09-25-2010, 08:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,482
What you may get as a "parts car" is simply a matter of how bad someone wants/needs it. A junkyard is certainly an option, and maybe the only one, but if you're lucky enough to find someone who just happens to need what you've got, you'll do better.
Old 09-25-2010, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Montana
Posts: 4,965
GM A-Car parts are pretty cheap new, and there's so many of the things in junkyards I doubt anyone is really going to want the car for parts. The only way you're going to sell it is as a functional car, as an easily repairable car or as scrap (which, as mentioned up thread, is going be just barely triple digits).

If you're not in a hurry to get rid of it, your best option there would probably be to put a very honest and very descriptive ad (with good pictures!) on craigslist or similar and say "make an offer". The sorts who fix up cars should have a decent idea what it's worth. My own internal blue book says that (around here) this is probably a $1000 car running and in decent condition. If it is indeed an easy fix and a buyer can drive it, I think you might get $500 on the high end.

It's kind of a tough call because this is a perfectly decent car, but because of their ancient styling and defunct marque the car itself is basically worthless. Since some parts of the country put more cache into that than others, I suspect for this car the specific economics of junkyard vs. sell as project vs. fix and sell will vary a lot depending on where you are.

Of course, if this is your only transportation and the alternative is buying a comparable car, you're almost certainly better off fixing it. The car that you already know what dollars have been shoveled into is better than an unknown commodity, all things being equal. So I say only sell if you were going to trade up anyways.

Last edited by GreasyJack; 09-25-2010 at 09:59 PM.
Old 09-26-2010, 03:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Port Jefferson Sta, NY
Posts: 7,875
Have you considered actually... selling it for parts?

I think if you, personally, managed to sell all the parts, you would eventually net *more* than bluebook value.

On the other hand, if you tried to sell your car to someone who wanted to sell it for parts, you'd probably get $100-$200.

So are you looking for a small amount of easy money, or a little bit more money for a little bit more effort?
Old 09-26-2010, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,803
It's junk

You own a junk car. It has little commercial value except for the junkyard price. True, they will attempt to make money on some parts and then for the value of the medal. You at not in the parts business so you are not positioned to do the same. Junk price might be $100 if you drive it in or $200 if you were lucky enough to find someone with a good engine that wanted to swap it into your hulk. Chances of that are slim.

So my bottom line is to run that car as far as possible to get the maximum driving value out of it and then get it to the junkyard. Use the remaining time to seek a bargain on the replacement. You will make more money by saving on the replacement.

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