How do I sell a car for parts?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 08, 2011

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a beloved 1998 Plymouth Voyager Minivan with only 83,000 miles. It has new tires, and was recently serviced (new plugs, leaks plugged, tuneup, etc., for about $2,000). Last month, I had a bizarre accident and crashed the rear of the car into a cement post. I gave the rear of the car a huge wedgie, broke the back window and badly damaged the left side of car as well. I want to sell the car to someone, who may want the engine and/or the tires. I have no idea how to go about it. How do I find such a buyer?

-- Barbara

TOM: I guess "bizarre accident" means you backed into a cement post while talking on the phone, Barbara. Was this one of those accidents that ends with the phrase "I'll have to call you back"?

RAY: Well, a good engine for a '98 Chrysler minivan does have some value. It's probably worth $500-$700 these days. And the tires are worth something, too.

TOM: The problem, as you well know, is finding a buyer who happens to need just these particular parts right now. That's traditionally been the job of the junk yard. That's one way to go.

strong>RAY: Of course, junk-yard owners have to make a living, so they may give you $250 or $300 for the whole vehicle. Then they'll take it apart and sell the parts for much more, in total.

TOM: So my suggestion would be to try advertising it on one of the websites where people sell each other their junk, like Craigslist or eBay, for instance. Explain what you told us -- that the engine is in good shape, with low mileage for its age, it just had $2,000 worth of repairs done, the tires are new and it was in a rear-end collision. Say you're looking for someone who wants it for the engine and parts, and see what happens.

RAY: You might find a nearby do-it-yourselfer who just drove his '98 Voyager into a cement pole frontward, and is looking for exactly that engine.

TOM: Or you might hear crickets chirping. In which case, you can always take it to your local junk yard then, and take whatever they'll give you for it. All you've lost is a little time.

RAY: And the humiliation of having to look at the car in the driveway for a few more weeks and be reminded that you backed into a pole. Good luck, Barbara.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One