8 Ways to Make Money From Your Old Beater Car

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Your old car is likely worth more than you think -- even if it no longer runs.

Your ticket to extra cash might be right outside your door.

That car you don’t use anymore, the seen-better-days passenger truck your friend signed over to you when he moved and even the nonworking car you or your spouse vowed to restore — and never did — can easily be your ticket to quick cash.

There’s a market for used cars, running or not.

“The biggest mistake drivers make when they have an outdated car on their hands is rushing too quickly to free up garage space by trading in to the dealership,” said Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD, an automotive parts retailer. “In order to maximize an old car’s potential, drivers should instead look to alternative options that will yield a higher return.”

I learned this the hard way. My husband and I were recipients of the beater truck a friend wanted to ditch. After a year or two we realized we didn’t get enough use out of it to justify paying for insurance and tags.

Silly us — we sold it for next-to-nothing.

The friend who purchased it had it professionally painted and detailed. And yes, he then sold it for thousands.

We were pleased for him but also annoyed with ourselves for not taking the initiative that would have rid us of it while netting some cash. But, had we followed Reina’s advice we could have turned the hunk of metal into cash.

Consider these ideas before you make the same mistake.

1. Sell a working used car

Dmitry Kolanovsky / Shutterstock.comDmitry Kolanovsky / Shutterstock.com

Clearly, most people turn their working used cars into cash by selling them outright to auto retailers. There are many gently used, leased cars that are coming on the market, so used car prices have dipped a bit in the past few months, according to the Wall Street Journal. But don’t let that deter you. As we recently reported, there are simple things you can do to spruce up your car to get the most money for it.

2. Offer extras with a working used car

Francesco83 / Shutterstock.comFrancesco83 / Shutterstock.com

Think beyond the ideas we gave you to spruce up your used car. It’s wise to share your service records with potential buyers, said Reina. That proves the car was well-maintained. Another idea: Include the owner’s manual and any “new car” paperwork you have for the vehicle such as manufacturers’ brochures about that year’s model you may have received from the dealer. People love those “extras” when they buy. Also, remember to explain any modifications you made to the car. Did you add a new sound system? Does the car have new tires? Did you have Lo-Jack, a theft deterrent and tracking system, installed? Mention any of those items and supply relevant paperwork. That will boost the value of your car and entice buyers to offer more.

3. Don’t go overboard sprucing up your car

Andrey 69 / Shutterstock.comAndrey 69 / Shutterstock.com

Although Reina said it is extremely important to make the inside and outside of your car pristine, he said you shouldn’t invest in needless upgrades. “Transforming your outdated ride is a must if you’re looking to make a profit, but it is important to focus on fixing only what is absolutely necessary maintenance-wise,” he said. “The car should be able to start, run, drive and pass a state safety inspection, so focus on major issues that affect safety and drivability. If you lived without an updated stereo system, there’s no need to invest time and money in one now.”

4. Take extra care if you advertise the car for sale

corlaffra / Shutterstock.comcorlaffra / Shutterstock.com

“You should always be transparent in your advertisement. If your AC is broken, be upfront about it so you can build trust and credibility with buyers,” said Reina. “When it comes to advertising your once prized possession, be sure to take high-quality pictures and offer a variety of angles of both the exterior and interior of the vehicle. Quality pictures will make your car stand out in a sea of unprofessional advertisements.”

5. Remove and sell easy-to-access parts from junker cars

AlexLMX / Shutterstock.comAlexLMX / Shutterstock.com

If you or someone close to you is handy with autos — and have the space in which to work — you may want to consider dismantling key parts of the car yourself. Parts are valuable and can often be sold to car enthusiasts, hobbyists and others. Reina recommended you claim all of the “good” components including wheels, glass, sound system, axles, seats, lights, trim pieces and more. You can start to value some of those pieces by looking at sites such as Just Parts and Parting Out — online marketplaces for buying and selling.

6. Sell the rest for scrap metal

GTS Productions / Shutterstock.comGTS Productions / Shutterstock.com

“After you have stripped away the parts you want to sell, call the local salvage yard to haul the stripped hulk away,” said Reina. “If it can be sold for scrap metal, they most likely won’t charge you for getting it off your hands and out of your garage.”

7. Sell it to parts pickers

 Koryenyeva Tetyana / Shutterstock.comKoryenyeva Tetyana / Shutterstock.com

There are major environmental and safety concerns involved in dismantling the engine and other parts of a car. Car retailers and service centers follow strict guidelines for handling and disposing of oils and other fluids. If you don’t have the training or facilities to dismantle the car — or just worry about safety — you can still sell your car for parts. Pull-A-Part is one of the services that buys cars for parts. Peddle.com is a similar service.

8. Flip a junker

JRP Studio / Shutterstock.comJRP Studio / Shutterstock.com

Some people make a career out of buying old cars for low prices and reselling them for higher prices. But others, such as the friend I mentioned earlier, take a used car they come across and quickly flip it. Paint jobs, new seat covers, floor mats and a quick inside polish work wonders. “You don’t have to do a complete overhaul,” said Reina. “If you have free time and some basic skills, a quick “fix and clean” can turn an inexpensive [car] find into a desirable collector piece” — or at least a car you can sell fairly easily for quick cash.

How have you disposed of old cars? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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