Can I sell a car that won't start?



99 Mercury Cougar with 114,000 miles and many small problems (passenger auto window doesnt work, sun roof doesnt work, radio display broken, bad bumper). New problem = fuel pump is dead.

The quotes I received say it will cost b/t $600 (fuel pump only) and 800 (fuel pump w/ sending unit) to fix it.

I am ready to sell, as I drive it v. little and it has given me lots of headaches and problems. Blue book value tells me I could probably get $3,000 if I sold it… if I could start it! Currently, with the dead fuel pump, it won’t really start.

DO I NEED TO REPLACE THE FUEL PUMP TO SELL IT? If I wanted to sell it to the dealer, would I need to fix it first, or could they just deduct the $600 from the price they give me, and fix it themselves?

Thank you for helping me! I am in a time crunch, and need your advice!


No dealer in their right mind is going to consider even giving you 600 dollars total for an 8 year old non-running Cougar, much less deduct that amount.
It’s highly unlikely you would get 3 grand for even if running considering the number of flaws it has.


There is no way for us to know. Maybe a dealer, new or used, would buy it and fix it for sale. A used car dealer is more likely to do so. On the other hand, why should they buy it if it won’t start? I would not expect to get more than about $500 for a non-running 99 Cougar. So, is it worth $600 to get closer to the “book” value in a private sale? It’s your call.


List it on E-bay and or craigslist and take what you get. Or call GoodWill or the Salvation Army and they will haul it off. Or ask around (parts stores are a good place) about an “underground” mechanic who will get it running for a fraction of the prices quoted…


Thanks for your replies! For a little more background on the car…
The car was purchased used, and all the problems listed above (except for the bumper) were pre-existing, many without our knowledge! Also, within the first 3 months, 2 catalytic converters needed to be replaced! Unfortuantely, we got a lemon! I’ve tried to maintain it decently, this summer the alternator died, so that was the last time it was serviced, and basically checked out.
So, the car has a new alternator, 2, 3yr old catalytic converters… some good parts that could be used. All the flaws are really cosmetic.


You’re a bit offbase in your thinking here.
These problems existed without your knowledge? Did you not check anything before buying the car; as in the radio display, windows, sunroof, etc. ?

You claim the car is a lemon and the fuel pump as one of the reasons why. Well, if the filter was never changed that is not the car’s fault. That is a car owner fault and could possibly be blamed on the previous owner.

The catalytic converters bad. Assuming the converters were really bad and needed replacement there are things that can cause the converters to fail. Driving around “for a while” with the CEL on can do it, depending on the cause of that CEL being on.

A used car is a used car and this one is an 8 year old collection of well-used parts. The fact some things are inoperative or fail does not make it a Lemon.


Your comment - “The fact some things are inoperative or fail does not make it a Lemon.” is very true. But, I have had the car now for 3 years, and the catalytic converters went bad immediately. In fact, when we took it to a dealership to run the computer after the CEL went on when we first bought the car, they saw the computer history, and saw that the CEL was on before (showing a problem with the catalytic converters)but then turned off, and the car was then sold with the problem.

I wasnt around when the car was purchased, and it was bought at a dealership auction by someone who thought they had everything checked out. You are right - the radio display only went out after 6 months, and unfortunately the windows/ sun roof worked intermitently (and worked when the car was taken for a test drive) but then stopped working.


passenger auto window doesnt work, sun roof doesnt work, radio display broken, bad bumper). New problem = fuel pump is dead

All the flaws are really cosmetic

If you’re not a salesperson, you should be. Functional defects can hardly be classified as cosmetic.


Without knowing the exact history, and computer codes that were set back then it’s hard to say if the converters were bad or not. If so, warranty would have paid for them no matter what.
A failure in diagnosis or repair does not make the car a Lemon, but could point to the integrity and competence of whoever was servicing the car.

The thing here is that you have had this car for THREE years! If the converters were bad immediately then what has been going on in the meantime? Does this “for a while” CEL you mention mean it has been glowing for 3 years?

Those other items are used electrical items and can be prone to erratic operation. It all depends on how many times they’ve been operated and the conditions under which they’ve been operated. (Example. Iced over windows and someone trying to repeatedly roll it down to rub the ice off. This is rough on a window motor and is not the car’s fault.)
With the radio, anything can happen. A couple of years ago I bought a new radio for my car and it failed within 2 weeks (FM out). Took it back and got another and within a few weeks the AM went out. Got yet another (different model) and within several weeks the CD quit. Took it back for one more of the same and within a month the CD went out again. At this point I gave up and went another route.


Of course you can sell it as-is. Expect to get very little for it. If you want top dollar for it, you have to fix everything. Then you might get $3000 in a private sale.


Your best bet is get it running and then sell it. I doubt you’ll get $3000 for it after fixing it.


LOL! I try to make the most of what I have (and have been dealing with). I ment all the flaws (except for the fuel pump) are cosmetic… I guess they are functional, but I have done my best to function without some of them.


No!! the CEL on for a while, I only meant for 1 month and a half (or less)! and I was gone (out of town and not driving the car) for half that time. I do my best to take care of it, although I defintely make mistakes!

Thank you for all your explanations. I appreciate it.