Driver Knowledge Tests

How to dispose of a worn-out car

However much you are fond of your car, sooner or later it will decay to the point of uselessness unless you maintain it. In many cases, it will become uneconomical to maintain as technology moves on. Or you’ll just want a safer, more economical vehicle with more features inside.

To get rid of your car, there are a few options.

Trade it in on a newer car

While car dealers definitely prefer to take a working car than a car that doesn’t work (notwithstanding the problems of getting a nonworking car to a car dealer), some dealers will give you a discount just to clear stock. This will depend on things like how much they think they can dispose of it for at a scrap yard and how desperate they are to sell you the car you’re interested in.

The price they offer you will depend on how much margin they have in the car you want and how desperate they think you are to take that car.

Still, if your trade-in isn’t working, you don’t have a strong bargaining advantage.

Scrap it at a wrecker

Wreckers will purchase dead vehicles and will break them into parts to sell either at their own business premises, online or via a network of resellers. The better the condition of your vehicle, the more money they can make out of it, relative to other similar vehicles.

Some wreckers will come and collect your car for free or will give you a small amount of cash. They will expect that you are the legal owner, not a finance company.

Break it up for parts yourself

If you have a particularly desirable or rare vehicle, the right tools and some space to accommodate it, you can break the car up yourself. Bear in mind that just your tyres and wheels are probably worth more to the right person than you would get for the whole car if you tried to sell it to a wrecker, so this option is a valid way of maximising your return.

However, you will be left with parts you can’t get rid of (usually the shell) and you’ll need to pay to get rid of that in the end. There’s also the time taken to dismantle a vehicle – you’re constantly fighting against friction and gravity when you dismantle a car. You’ll need to be able to dispose of fluids, too.

Procrastinate for a while

If you have a barn, park it up. Some cars will appreciate in value over time as the number of running examples reduces. In a few decades, someone might knock on your door, expecting a lucrative ‘barn find‘.

I shot this Ford V8 at Tom Prior’s place in Chillagoe, QLD

Donor car

Let’s say you bought a nice 1970s Jaguar and now (not unexpectedly) it’s sitting by the side of the road, having let you down again. Take the plunge and buy another, better quality Jaguar of the same model and keep your old car as a donor car for when the new one breaks down.

It’s not uncommon for enthusiasts of unreliable marques to have a donor car sitting around somewhere.

Paddock hack or demolition derby

If you can get it running but it’s not roadworthy, it can be used to teach your kids to drive if you have enough private property. Alternatively, chuck a roll cage in it and take it to your local speedway for a spot of banger racing or demolition derby. Perhaps even the 24 Hours of Lemons.

Chicken coup or rusting garden ornament

If you want perpetual memories of the good times with your former pride and joy, simply park it up and let the grass grow up around it as the paint develops a patina. Chickens might find it a pleasant place to roost, or wombats might use the shelter to dig out a burrow.

If your car has a lot of space (or if it’s a van), you might be able to use it for some temporary storage, but mind that things don’t go mouldy.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

Posted in Advice
Read previous post:
Tips for getting car air conditioning to work better

When you get in your vehicle and it's hot, run the air conditioning immediately, but leave the doors or windows...

Close