What To Do With Your Old Car

By: Robert Thomson


You're finally ready to purchase the set of wheels of your dreams, or maybe you're just upgrading your current mom's-taxi-and-grocery-getter to a newer model. Either way, you've still got your old car to consider. There are several options available to the car owner these days that you may not have been aware of or given considerable, serious thought. It's time you did.

1.) Trade-in - This one is pretty straight forward. You know the routine - you go to the car dealership and agree to give them your old car as part of the purchase deal for your new one. Do you know, though, that you are getting a good deal for it? Before deciding to trade in your old vehicle, you should take the time to research its Kelly's Blue Book value. You can do this online. You'll need to enter the specifics for your automobile - year, make, model, mileage, zip code, as well as specifics regarding features, drive train and overall condition of the vehicle. Once you've done this, the Kelly's Blue Book value calculator will give you an approximate value for your old car. To help boost the value of your car, before you go to any dealer, have it detailed, cleaned and have all minor repairs taken care of. An oil change, tune up and making sure you have a decent set of tires on the vehicle will also go along way to getting a better price from a dealer, as they all add value to the car. (One way that this adds value for the dealership is that they don't have to pay their personnel or use their products to get your car ready for resale.) A $100 detailing job and a $19.95 oil change can add hundreds of dollars to the value of your car. Make sure you remove all personal papers, but leave the owner's manuals, warranty papers, and maintenance or service records. Leave the spare and the jack, too, but take out the jumper cables. (Leaving the jack and spare shows the dealer you are a responsible, considerate car owner. Leaving the jumper cables can signal a problem with the starter or battery.) As long as the dealer gets somewhere close to your Kelly's Blue Book value figure, you can be assured of a good deal. (The dealership's used car sales manager is going to most likely deduct $300 to $500 automatically, by the way, to cover either shipping or auctioning costs in the event that the car can not be sold on the dealership's local lot.) If the dealer is way under the Kelly's Blue Book value, ask him why. It could be that he has a lot of similar models already on his used lot. It could be that there are problems with your vehicle that you're not aware of. It could be he's jut trying to swindle you out of a car that's worth a whole lot more than he's willing to pay. If it's the first instance, you may want to try and find another dealer with fewer similar models. If you find that your old car has problems you weren't aware of, fixing them can lead to you getting a better price for the car. If the dealer is just out to make a quick buck at your expense and gives you some response you know is false, politely tell him that you'll have to consider his offer and find yourself a more reputable dealer somewhere else.

2.) Selling your old car yourself - With the advent of online auto auctions, reselling your car yourself can be a great deal more profitable than simply trading it in. It certainly has advantages over the good old days of advertising in the local paper, driving around with a FOR SALE sign stuck in the back window, and parking it in the front yard hoping to attract the attention of passing drivers. Online sales have their disadvantages, though, too. The biggest drawback to online auto sales is that you can actually receive too many replies. The 24/7, world wide availability of the World Wide Web means that many people from many places can view your ad. Some of those people will contact you, even though travel time and distance make it seriously unrealistic that they could actually view and possibly purchase your car. Most of the online sites now ask for a prospective buyers' postcode, so he or she knows exactly where the car is in relation to his locality. There are also distance-inspection services that buyers can hire that will go and check out vehicles of interest on behalf of the buyer. They come at a cost, however, that the average car buyer isn't going to want to cover. Now if your car is a classic, or is a standout in some other way, it may be worth it to long-distance buyers to go that extra mile. You may still end up fielding a lot of calls or emails from half-hearted web surfers in search of a bargain they can't realistically obtain. You can still try the good old methods, too, if you want. Other drivers have sold lots of cars in the past that way.

3.) Donating your old car - You'd be surprised at the number of places that accept donations of old vehicles. Some require the vehicle to be in good running order. Others will take them any way they can get them. You'll have to do some research in your specific area, but some ideas for making your old beater a charity case are schools, religious organizations and established charities. The IRS has a list of "approved" national charities such as the Kidney Foundation, the Salvation Army and others that you can check out. HM Revenue and Customs has a similar list, as does Canada's Revenue Agency. (Make sure you're donating to a "recognized" charity before turning over your old vehicle if you expect to use the donation as a tax credit.) The auto mechanic shops of many high schools and technical schools will often gladly welcome older cars to use as teaching materials. Religious organizations such as churches, synagogues and mosques can often use old cars in good condition to aid members who may be in need of transportation but unable to afford it. Other charities can give your car to a needy individual or family, use your old car in place of buying "fleet" vehicles, or sell your car for whatever cash value it can bring the charity. There is a definite tax value to donating your old vehicle, as you might be able to receive a tax credit for its Kelly's Blue Book value. Add to that the satisfaction that you'll have from knowing that your old car is serving someone in need somewhere and donating your old vehicle is a win-win proposition.

Whether you decide to trade in your old car, sell it yourself, or donate it to a worthy cause, ridding yourself of your old beater to make way for a new set of wheels shouldn't be something to stress about. Think of all the fun the new owner of your old car will have. Who knows? Maybe your old "junk heap" is just the car of their dreams!

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CarsHelpingAmerica.org, a vehicle donation center, is an authorized, bonded agent working on behalf of its supported charities to accept and process your used car donation. Visit online for more information.

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