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Parting Out Your Car

Conventional wisdom states that someone is willing to pay more for a complete vehicle than it’s parts. In some cases, conventional wisdom is dead wrong. Parting out a car that no longer runs or has been totaled is a great way to make money. Why should salvage yards get to keep all of the cash?

Breaking it Down

Tearing down your car to sell for parts can be a daunting task, and requires some level of mechanical experience. If you’re a professional mechanic or even a weekend grease monkey, breaking down the car with be a reasonably easy experience.


If you aren’t a technically inclined person, this may not be the project for you. You could employ the services of a more mechanically minded friend or family member for a portion of the proceeds.

If you’re up to the challenge of learning a new skill, however, you can utilize your computer or smartphone to assist the parting out of your car. Some great resources for learning some basic auto mechanic skills can be found at:

  • YouTube
  • Owner’s Forums
  • Question and Answer sites.

What to Sell? What to Scrap?

On a long enough timeline, any parts that you can sell will find a new home. If you’re looking for some quick cash, though, you can scrap just about any part you’re able to pull off of your car. The best parts to take to the scrapyard are usually:

  • Aluminum Engine Blocks (you’ll receive much more if you take it to the scrap yard over having their truck come to you)
  • Lead Wheel Weights (you’ll usually receive slightly less than a base lead price)
  • Starters & Alternators (these contain copper, and should be separated prior to scrapping)
  • Aluminum Rims
  • Catalytic Converters (these are the holy grail of car scrapping due to the palladium, rhodium, or platinum inside).

Most other parts have a likely buyer. Radiators, axles, seats, headlights, taillights, and anything else that you can unbolt likely has a home on another vehicle.

Where Do I Sell Car Parts?

When it comes to selling your parts, you have a few options. Locally, you can use websites like craigslist and You also have your local newspaper, auto trader, and Pennysavers. The best parts to sell locally are typically the heavier parts that would be difficult to ship*. As some of your local resources will charge you per word to list an ad, be concise.

“Parting out a 1998 VW Jetta. All offers considered. 555-555-1234.”


Lighter parts are usually best sold on eBay. You’ll usually find someone who is absolutely desperate to find a random body part off of your old car. They’ll be willing to pay a premium, and shipping costs won’t be too prohibitive.

* -The exception to the “difficult to ship” rule is when you have something very rare that collector may need to finish a project car. In this case, list it on eBay and watch the price go through the roof.

Parting out your car can be profitable, but you need to avoid snags, such as scrapping a part that you should have sold. You need to take into account shipping charges, the value of your time listing all of your parts, and the value of the space where you’ll be storing your vehicle.

Junkyards have become very profitable by selling cars for their parts. With some care and attention to detail, you’ll likely make some good money doing the same!

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