By Richard Reina
Most car owners have been there before – you’ve got an outdated vehicle that has become a hassle to own and operate, and you aren’t sure what to do with it. While many drivers can’t wait to rid themselves of a dilapidated ride, don’t rush too quickly to free up garage space.
For one thing, every month you can keep your paid-off car running is one where you won’t have to take on a new car payment. But even if you’ve saved up for a new set of wheels, trading in your old car at the dealership may not be the best route. Whether you sell the car privately, dismantle it to sell off valuable parts, or buy an old car for a DIY overhaul, there are several ways to maximize an old car’s potential and to cash in before you trade in.
Sell Your Trusty Old Car Instead of Trading It In
You’ve run your car out to the bitter end and now it’s time to part ways. Trading it in at a dealership is an easy option, but selling the car yourself on the private market can earn you 15% to 25% more for it, . If you want to try getting the most out of your car by selling it privately, you should be conscious of several factors.
The first question you need to ask yourself when thinking about selling your car is simple – is it an operating vehicle? If so, you can proceed forward by fixing only what is absolutely necessary and nothing more.
If you lived without an updated radio system, there’s no need to invest extra time and money in one now. Stay focused on parts that are essential to keeping the car safe and running. If you held on to service records over the years, be sure to make copies and show prospects that the car has been treated with care.
When it comes to the appearance of an old car, the details really do matter. A thorough cleaning goes a long way toward making your car presentable, so be sure to prioritize cleaning the paint, glass and upholstery. Once your car is camera-ready, take high-quality pictures that will make you stand out from unprofessional advertisements.
Finally, it’s extremely important to be forthcoming in your advertisement about the condition of your vehicle so you can be perceived as a credible, trustworthy seller. As long as it starts, runs and can pass a state safety inspection, you should be set to make the sale.
Dismantle Your Car to Sell the Parts
For cars that may not be attractive enough to sell whole, there’s still value in parts. An owner needs to have both the skill and storage space to successfully salvage parts from a broken-down car, so this option is not for the casual seller.
If you have the time and maintenance background, focus on removing valued parts such as the wheels, glass, sound system, axles, lights, trim pieces, and engine parts. If you lack experience but are determined to see some return on investment from your non-operating vehicle, it’s certainly an option to use resources online and teach yourself how to perform basic tasks.
Once you’re ready to sell, drivers can check websites like or that have sections dedicated to selling car parts. When the whole process is over, call your local salvage yard to haul away the stripped body – they may not charge you if they can sell it for scrap metal.
Buy an Old Car Cheap and Resell it for a Higher Price
Are you looking for a hobby that can make a profit? Look no further than preserving classic cars, an industry that has become increasingly popular. With some simple maintenance work and a dedication to clean everything and everywhere, an inexpensive find can be turned in to a desirable collector’s item.
To go above and beyond regular upkeep, focus on sprucing up under the hood, in the wheel wells, and in the door jambs. When your collector is ready to show, selling in-person to enthusiasts at a local car show could be the way to attract the right buyer.
Before saying goodbye to an old vehicle, be sure to consider the many different routes both buyers and sellers can pursue to make the most out of a once-prized possession.
Richard Reina is the product training director at and has been an auto enthusiast since the age of two, when his dad taught him the difference between a Chevy and a Ford. Since then, it’s been cars all the time. He enjoys restoring and driving old cars, with a special love for anything Italian – he currently owns a 1967 Alfa Romeo.