Trade-in or Scrap: Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Rid of Your Old Car


Buying a new car is a milestone in most people’s lives, but it also means more responsibility. This isn’t just about making sure you have enough fuel, keeping the car maintained, and driving safely. It’s also about making the right decision when you want to get rid of your old car. 

You might want to replace or simply do away with your car for several reasons. These include moving to a new city, deciding to downsize on costs, or simply feeling the new to upgrade. This is also an exciting time, but the decisions could be overwhelming.

Getting rid of your old car might not be as straight forward as it might seem. Choosing between trading in, scrapping, or donating your car can be a tricky question to answer. Many regions such as the EU have strict environmental regulations regarding the disposing of old cars, while some have made it illegal to get paid when scrapping a vehicle. You also need to make sure that the new owner isn’t some rogue who leaves you liable for penalties such as speeding tickets (or in the worst-case scenario criminal activities).

This post discusses the few options you have when you want to get rid of your old. Whether you are ready for buying a new car or already have one in the garage, getting rid of the old one depends on several different factors. These include your own preferences, local and federal regulations, and the vehicle itself. Let’s get started with the different options as well as the pros and cons of each.

Selling or Trade-in

Trading in or selling your old car might seem like a daunting task, but it’s probably the best option, especially if the vehicle is in good running condition. In most countries, trading in a car involves selling it directly to a dealership, which puts the worth of your old car towards the price of a new car. The dealership offers you a specific amount for your old car and waives off that amount from the purchase price of a new car. It’s also very convenient to just go to a dealership and accept whatever they offer so you don’t have to pay the full price of a new car.

If you do have access to such services, this option looks like a win-win situation, right? However, this situation not as straight forward as it seems. After all, you have car dealers in the mix, who know much more about the automobile industry than you do. These people know how to turn a profit, and they’re certainly not going to hold back in order to give you the full value of your old car.

Car dealers might be making more money from trade in old cars than you think. They know most people don’t like to deal with the hassle of selling their old car. That’s why selling a car on your own gets you the best price compared to dealerships, which usually offer much lower than the actual price. It’s up to you to choose between the hassle and time involved in selling a car privately or getting a lower price for convenience’s sake.

The final decision rests with you and your unique requirements. You might be in a hurry to simply sell off the old car and move on as soon as possible. In such cases, the convenience of letting a car dealer take over is probably worth more than getting some extra bucks. On the other hand, the money you get from the old car could be meant for an investment, not necessarily a new car. If that’s the way it is, you’ll probably be better off going it alone with a few expert tips.


Depending on the condition of your car and your own situation, handing over your old car to a scrap yard is sometimes the only option of getting rid of an old vehicle. However, junking a car is not as bad as most of us perceive it to be. You put your car in the junk pile inside a junkyard/junk wreck where it is stripped down and crushed to the smallest possible size. 

Scrapping an old car means that its leftovers get used in other machinery, maybe even to upgrade or repair other cars. If there’s nothing to be done about a very old car, scrapping might be the best option. In fact, driving around an ancient vehicle might be worse for the planet and your own health. It might be guzzling too much gas without giving you enough mileage, so no one else is going to want the car for any decent price either. 

Junking your car is good for the environment, especially when there is no life left in it. It’s also safe as you don’t have to worry about handling the toxic substances present in vehicles such as mercury, acids, antifreeze, etc. Since wreck yards are equipped to handle such toxic substances, you don’t have to worry about disposing of them yourself. 

Some might think that scrapping a car means we get nothing out of it. However, this isn’t necessarily true. No matter how small, you can make some money when junking your old car. However, make sure to double-check the local regulations before accepting any cash for the metal junk. Your area might have some specific regulations and requirements before you’re allowed to sell your car to a scrap yard or junkyard. 

Junking might also be the simplest and easiest way of disposing of your old vehicle, especially as most companies will tow the vehicles themselves from your home. Still, we recommend that you use junking as the last resort after exhausting all other options such as repairing, trading in or selling, and donating. Junking is a better option if the cost of repairs (and expected future repairs) exceeds the loan payment of a new car (plus the time and energy needed to do these repairs). 


Donating your old car might be a better option if it isn’t worth much, but still in running condition. Not only you are doing some good in this world, but you are also making someone’s life a bit better. There might be many people around you who would be glad of owning any sort of car. Look within your family and friends first; there might be a young couple or a recent graduate who would love to have a used car for their first taste of adulthood. If there’s no such party in your social circle, you might want to widen the boundaries and ask around. 

Depending on which state and region you’re in, there are a number of organizations that take your old car and donate the money obtained from selling it to charities. This is another way of donation that won’t be as much of a hassle as finding a deserving party for your old car. This way, you can be sure of giving some help to those who need it the most.  

The best option would be to donate it to someone you personally know, who would have some improvement in his/her life due to your donating them the car. However, make sure to do a background check before giving away your car to someone. 

Finally, before you donate your car, ensure that all the paperwork is done so you don’t have to face the heat if something goes wrong. You don’t want to be saddled with parking or speeding tickets due to a careless driver in a vehicle under your name. The car should be completely transferred to the other party, and it’s on you to absolve yourself of any future responsibility. This goes for whether you’re donating your car to an individual or a non-profit organization for their work. 

Another great aspect of donating your old car is that you can get a great tax deduction from it. This is usually equal to the amount that the car brought in when it was auctioned off. Even if your car wasn’t auctioned, you can always claim around $500 or the fair market value of the car during the next tax season. The amounts and specifications might vary from one case to another, so make sure you consult a trusted tax professional before making any final decisions. 

Going Online

If you’re looking to donate your car or sell it to a recycling center, you might want to explore your options online. This is important if you don’t have many people around you who could help take the car off your hands. You can also use the internet to search for the most favored and popular car dealers that will perform a trade-in to your benefit (mostly). The same goes for a situation where you want to sell the car outright.

Reviews and ratings count for a lot, especially if you’re certain that they come from genuine contributors. With the right recommendations, you can find the best people and services to make the most of your old car.

You may also want to post a picture of your car online and simply ask people on social media what the best route might be. There are several people facing such issues every single day, so you’d be bound to get some experienced, honest answers. You might have to ask the right audience, though, so try and find some relevant groups that talk about such subjects.  

Using your own social media platforms might be a bit risky and give you limited results, though. If this is so, you can try out some online platforms that are specially built for selling old cars. Vroom, Carvana, and other options might be available in your region, so make sure to check them out. This way, you’ll be able to receive and accept offers as you see fit. Once you finalize and offer, these services will even pick up the car, inspect it, and pay you on the on the spot. What’s more, they will even come by when it’s a convenient time for you, not for themselves.


If you’re lucky enough to own a car, you should be prepared to dispose of it in the correct manner when the time comes. It might cause a pang to part with the car no matter what you’re doing with it, but the change will hopefully be for the better. In any case, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each decision beforehand. You’ll be much less likely to regret your decision that way!

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