Should You Sell Your Car for Parts or as One Piece?

Last Updated: July 2021

If you have an old or unreliable car, your first thought might be that it would be best sold for parts rather than selling it privately or to a junkyard. Maybe you’ve had good luck in the past doing this before and want to get a sense of the best strategy to take. Or maybe you’re just interested in which parts will net you the most cash, so you can plan ahead. We’ll look at how you can go about removing items, and why it might be easier for you to sell the car whole.

Selling Your Car for Parts

It’s easy to think that selling your car for parts is the smart way to go. After all, the tires alone might have cost you more than the junkyard is offering! But the truth is that harvesting the best parts of a car is far from a one-and-done process.

Here’s a rough estimate of what you’re getting into:

  • The first step is to assess exactly how much parts are worth based on their current condition. Unlike other kinds of investments, parts lose their value as soon as they’re used, meaning it’s not always easy to determine how much they can be sold for. Plus, there’s not always a buyer for them even if they’re in the best condition.
  • The next step is to determine exactly what the market is for these parts. If no one in your area is buying, it will mean shipping to someone else. In the latter case, the price of sending a large package could make it difficult to sell. And some parts, particularly in older cars, may not have any demand at all.
  • The final step is to get the parts out of the car. Smaller parts on the exterior are typically a pretty simple project, but anything larger or more out of the way can present much bigger challenges.

There isn’t a single source of value in terms of how much each car part is worth, and what you get will be somewhat dependent on when you sell it. However, you can get a sense of the average price of each part (based on condition) on places like eBay or Amazon. Keep a list of how much everything is worth to get a better sense of whether stripping the car is the right decision.

What Are the Most Valuable Parts of the Car?

If you’re still interested in stripping, here’s a tour of a few of the most valuable items in (or on) your car:

  • Engine/transmission: These under-the-hood items are excellent places to start if the car is in running condition.
  • AC: The air conditioning system, particularly the compressor or condenser, may be in demand by places like repair shops or remanufacturing companies.
  • Alternator/starter: These components are attached to their engine and they’re largely valuable because of the copper wiring in the steel case.
  • Radiator: The radiator contains plenty of recyclable aluminum and it’s relatively simple to remove.
  • Catalytic converter: You’ll find metals like platinum and rhodium in the converter. They can also be purchased whole from auto repair shops.
  • Tires/wheels: If these are both in good condition, you can sell either together or separately.

Why Parting Out Your Car Is a Hassle

Anyone who wants to part out their car will need a lot of time on their hands. Just researching the many parts of the car can quickly drain hours from your day! Plus, you’ll need to know how to disassemble the car without damaging it before cleaning, photographing, pricing, posting, and then delivering the parts.

It takes a lot of expertise to properly dismantle a vehicle, and requires the right tools to handle the heavier parts of the car (e.g., engine, body panels, etc.). You’ll need a ramp or lift to ensure that the vehicle stays put while you work under it, as well as a place to store the parts and a high-quality camera to display them in full glory.

Throughout it all, you’ll need to manage the sale, including answering endless questions from buyers who may or may not be serious about following through with it. Once you’re done with it all, you’ll still need to figure out how to get rid of the rest of the car that’s leftover.

If you’re not an expert, we recommend both calling on a certified mechanic for help and having a buyer lined up before you even start it. This will help you feel more confident about getting the most money from your car and provides a financial incentive to actually dismantle the vehicle.

When It’s All Too Much

Selling your car for parts is more than a weekend project, and it’s one of those to-do items that usually keeps getting pushed back again and again. If the thought of adding this into your busy life makes you tired, Junk Car Medics is a solution that will get the car off your property (or the property where it broke down on you) faster than you might think.

With us, there’s almost no prep work. All you do is fill out a quick form, get a quote, and then next thing you know, it’s out of your life forever. We take care of it all, so you can turn your attention to what you’re going to do with the cash.