Mistakes when junking a car

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Junking Cars For Cash

Part of keeping the environment clean is selling junk cars to be recycled. It's part of the reason we buy junk cars. While this will put some cash in your pockets, it will also mean having fewer landfills.

Today, cars are among the most recycled consumer items. About 86 percent of a car's body is salvageable. And that's good news for car owners seeking to junk their vehicles for cash.

Junking your car might seem easy, but there are many pitfalls you should avoid. Below are the common mistakes when junking cars for cash.

Avoid These Mistakes When You Junk Cars for Cash

Over the years, we bought a lot of junk cars, and we've heard many horror stories along the way of past experiences.   We've previously written about how to junk a car; now we're going to cover nine mistakes to avoid when junking your car for cash:

1. Failing To Explore Better Options

Junking isn't always the best solution to get rid of your car. For instance, no matter what a junk buyer says, junking a functioning vehicle or the latest model can be a loss.

Instead of junking a drivable car, you could trade it to a dealer. Trading it is undoubtedly more profitable than selling it as scrap.

2. Repairing a Car Before Junking It

Some believe a less damaged car will fetch a better offer at the junkyard. A few touch-ups may increase its value, but repairs before junking are unnecessary.

Repairs make sense if you intend to sell your automobile to a second buyer. But if you plan to sell your car to a junk dealer, there is no incentive to perform repairs. After all, salvage dealers will still crash it regardless of whether you repair it.

3. Misrepresenting Car Info to Get a Higher Offer

No one understands your car's condition better than you. You need to be transparent while engaging a prospective buyer.

As you focus on the positives of your car, highlight all the things wrong with it. While hiding a few concerns can fetch a better price, these are underhand tactics that junk buyers often see through.

When buyers catch a whiff of dishonesty on your part, they become reluctant to buy your car. They will then second-guess everything else you have shared so far.

It can be damaging in terms of reputation and also can hinder the trade. An honest representation of your car will get its value without imploring any fake techniques.

4. Not Having Proof of Ownership

It's a requirement by US law to own a vehicle title before liquidating or salvaging it. Some of the documents that you need to have to complete the sale of your junk car include:

  • Owner's title
  • Storage lot lien
  • Auction sales receipt
  • Mechanics lien
  • Repossession affidavit

Lack of ownership documents is among the common mistakes when junking cars for cash. You can solve this issue by contacting your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for new documents.

5. Making Decisions in a Hurry

One mistake to avoid when selling a junk car is impatience.

Vet Your Junk Car Buyers

Make sure your junk car buyers are legit.  Rogue buyers are often looking to knock off the price, and if they sense your eagerness to part with your vehicle, they will take advantage of the situation. That's why you should vet buyers and compare their offers.

Research What Your Junk Car Is Worth

Remember that haggling is part of the process, but you need to start knowing what your junk car is worth. The junk buyer may quote a lower price if you mention a value. While haggling, remember to have a relaxed and calm demeanor. Never show signs of restlessness.

Don't Jump at the First Offer

Even though you are selling your car, it doesn't mean you should accept any offer. It's always advisable to research the value of your car before selling. An old vehicle that still drives shouldn't fetch the same price as an immobilized junk car.

6. Falling for Common Scams

Not many salvage yard buyers have a reputation as honest traders. At the slightest opportunity, some will trick you by giving out a low quote on your junk car. Here are some scams you should avoid.

Bait and Switch

Before selling your junk vehicle, it's essential to give the prospective buyer all the accurate information. It establishes the value of your car and what you should expect from it.

However, some junk car buyers will pull bait and switch underhand tactics to get you to sell at a price you hadn't agreed on earlier. When you think the deal is complete, the buyer shocks you with a lower quote, saying your vehicle isn't worth the agreed value.

When they present a new offer, you will feel ripped off. If you don't accept this new price, you get stuck with charges for canceling with the tow truck driver.

Letting the Car Go Without Being Paid First

Selling your old clunker means relinquishing the title to the junk buyer. But if the deal doesn't include payment on the spot, don't proceed.

A common scam is when a junk buyer tries to dupe you into signing off the title with a promise of payment through a check in the mail. Some will make you follow up the payment at their offices.

Usually, a delayed payment is a red flag. Ensure that you receive cash payment for your junk car.

7. Paying Extra for Towing and Junk Car Removal

Sometimes, you can help reduce the costs by driving the junk car you intend to sell to the yard. However, it only applies if the vehicle isn't totaled and can still move.

But never pay for the tow truck charges to transport your car to the salvage yard. The price of junk car removal should be inclusive of the towing costs.

Towing cars come with the job of a junk car buyer, and often, they have tow trucks for this purpose. Even if it's only a short distance away, you shouldn't incorporate the tow truck charges from the agreed price.

If a salvage company doesn't include free towing, consider looking for another buyer who will not defraud you of your extra cash.

8. Leaving Stuff Behind

Be sure not to leave your property behind when you sell your junk car. Once the deal is complete, everything in the car belongs to the buyer.

Check the glove compartment, under the seats, trunk, seat pockets, and center console. If you have covered seats, remove them too. Other items you should remove include:

License Plates

The title to your car doesn't include your license plates. To avoid future liabilities, remove your old license plates while transferring. It's advisable to return the car's plates to the local DMV.

Personal Items and Information

Please clean up your junk car before you scrap it.

You shouldn't leave behind personal information like checks, letters, bank, tax information, shopping receipts, and employment credentials while selling your junk car. Identity theft cases are rising, and you could be a victim.

Also, ensure you don't leave personal belongings like rings, wallets, jewelry, toys, towels, or clothes inside the car. Thoroughly check the glove compartment, under seats, the trunk, and other hiding places. You're selling the car, not your items.

Aftermarket Accessories

Aftermarket vehicle customs include new seat covers, backup sensors, and stereo. Ensure that you strip the car off those custom rims and even spoilers.

A junk car doesn't have use for accessories, especially if it ends up recycled.

9. Forgetting To Cover Your Bases

Most people hurry to eliminate junk cars and forget to cover their bases. The worst case is that this mistake can bite you in the future.

Some of the mistakes people make include:

Not Releasing Liability

There is no telling what the salvage company will do with your vehicle. They might decide to fix it and resell it.

Depending on your state, you should always fill in a DMV form and send it to their offices. This way, you are protected from liabilities should the car be involved in other activities after selling it.

Not Canceling Insurance

All cars need insurance, and if you move around with it, you need an active insurance policy. It's illegal to remain uninsured even if your vehicle is undrivable or immobile. That said, you must cancel the policy once you sell the car.

Your car is your responsibility until the transfer takes place and the salvage company tows it away. Remember to cancel the insurance policy immediately after the salvage company collects it.


Selling a junk car is a rigorous process that people find intimidating. But before selling junk cars, remember that the idea is to get the best value.

While earning extra cash from your old clunker is lucrative, caring for the environment is an added perk. These are more than compelling reasons to let go of your junk car.

But be wary of salvage companies always looking to squeeze you out of your deserved cash. If you avoid these mistakes when you junk cars for money, you will have a better experience and fetch a decent value for your old car.

Remember to conduct some due diligence and exercise patience. Ultimately, you attract reputable junk buyers willing to pay top dollar for your car.

Your best offer awaits