Consumers have a lot of experience buying everyday items for their families. If the price tag on a gallon of milk reads $20, they know it’s overpriced. If the tag reads $0.50, they know it’s under-priced (or something’s very wrong with it). Even pricing on specialty items like pricey electronics or automobiles aren't that difficult to judge.
One big exception: selling a junk car for cash. Selling your junk car for cash happens so rarely that you might not have any idea what your junk car is worth. And shady junkyards know this, and many will take advantage of you.
A Junk Car Isn’t Trash
There are many factors that go into deciding what your junk car is worth. Many consumers make the mistake of thinking that a junk car is like any other unwanted item. People are used to garbage men hauling away their trash while they sleep, and for most of us, a car that isn’t running is just a problem that needs solving, not an opportunity to make extra cash. That’s a shame, because reputable car junk yards will pay good money for junk cars.
Unlike most trash that just needs to be disposed of, an automobile is made from valuable, recyclable materials like steel. Even if your car doesn’t have any value as a drivable vehicle anymore, it can usually supply spare parts that are valuable for repairs to other vehicles. No matter what, your car is worth money as scrap metal. It’s important for consumers to think of their junk cars as a valuable asset instead of a pile of trash.
No Junk Car Is Worthless
While most junkyards are reputable businesses, there are many that try to take advantage of misinformed customers. They’re only too happy to play along with your mistaken idea that your junk car is worthless. Many will tell you that your car isn’t worth anything, and then offer to “do you a favor” and take if off your hands for free. Then they make a killing selling parts from your car to auto mechanics and selling the rest for hundreds of dollars as metal scrap.
If you have a junk car you’d like to sell, there’s no reason to get taken for a ride by unscrupulous junkyards and scrappers. The Internet offers many ways to check on the value of your old car and the honesty of any particular junkyard. Here are a few easy ways to tell if a junkyard is on the up and up before you do business with them:
Many consumers think of Yelp as a review site that’s strictly for things like restaurants, but they offer consumers a treasure trove of information about almost any kind of business, including junkyards. You can search Yelp reviews in your area to determine other people’s experience with local junkyards.
Consumers should be cautious when they see anonymous reviews on the Internet. Glowing reviews can be planted by the business itself, and competitors can place bad reviews to make themselves look better. Consumers can judge the relative honesty of a Yelp review by looking at how many other reviews the account holder has written, and how long they’ve been on the service. It’s very hard to fake an account on Yelp that has a lot of reviews.
Reviews are useful, but another way to judge the honesty of a business is the information they offer to the public on sites like Yelp. Directories like Yelp let companies fill out a full profile of their business. Listings include things like hours of operations, phone numbers, email addresses, pictures of the facilities and the people that work there. This allows interested consumers to form a fuller picture of the business, and it’s especially reassuring if the business responds to reviews, and takes steps to rectify problems they read.
User Reviews Take the Mystery Out of Junkyards
This honesty and openness is especially important for a business like a junkyard, an industry with an unfortunate history of sketchy dealings. Most of the activity in a junkyard happens away from public eye, and in many cases, a junkyard is just a fenced-in lot that consumers never visit and don’t know much about. Shady junkyards use this to their advantage, and go out of their way to intimidate customers who aren’t sure exactly how to go about selling a junk car for cash.
Reputable companies are happy to feature their business on review sites, and proudly show their contact information. Businesses that hide their contact information are showing you that they want to make it difficult for anyone to contact them after they’ve done business with them. That’s a bad sign. Look for open and honest companies that treat their customers with respect.
Junkyards are now often found using a clearinghouse website. These brokers are great at showing up on Internet searches, but they’re just a pass-through to the businesses. Once you determine the name of the junkyard you’re dealing with, you should look them up and investigate them on the Internet as much as possible. General Google searches are excellent ways to find out information about local businesses.
Google sells the first three entries on their results page to advertisers, including the competitors of the business you’re looking for, so you might have to look through several pages of results to find a true picture of the junkyard. If the business has no website to speak of, and doesn’t have much information available about them anywhere, you should be extra cautious about doing business with them.
Other Social Media
Many small businesses can’t afford to build a website and keep it filled with information, so they use social media sites to communicate with the public. Consumers can look for information about junkyards on sites like Facebook. If a junkyard has a Facebook page, look in the left-hand column to see how they respond to feedback from the public. If the site is filled with angry customers that don’t get a reply, you can assume that the company isn’t reputable, or at least doesn’t handle complaints well.
Easy to Find Contact Information
In all cases, you’ll do best if the business you’re dealing with is open and honest about their policies and practices, and they participate in social media sites that allow customer feedback. That’s your best guarantee that you’ll get an honest company when you’re trying to sell your junk car for cash.
Header Image: U.S. National Archives and Record Administration