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First time getting rid of/selling an old car. Help Appreciated!

I have a 2003 Saturn Ion 2 with about 150,000 miles on it. I decided not to do any additional repairs on it/run it to the ground, since it doesn’t make sense to put more money into it. The heating and cooling system no longer works, the brake pads & rotors need to be replaced (they’re bad enough that it’s not safe to drive), and the hood/grill are dented. I’m trying to figure out what makes the most sense in terms of getting rid of it/selling it. It turns on just fine, and would still be drivable if it wasn’t for the brake issue.

What’s the most painless process? Is there any way for me to get money for it? (Are these 2 things mutually exclusive?) I’ve researched a bit, and I think CarMax would be my best bet, but because of the bad brakes, getting the car there would require a tow. I’m not very excited about the prospect of selling it on craigslist, because I know very little about cars and, if I’m honest, dealing with strangers doesn’t sound like the most fun. Dealing with someone from a junk yard sounds messy (and I have had friends that have had weird/bad experiences.) I am not a rich person, so although I love the idea of donating, I also love the idea of getting a bit money, even if it’s not a lot.

(now you can probably see why it’s been sitting outside of my apartment for a month!)

help is appreciated, if you can give it!

Before you tow it to CarMax, visit and talk to someone about the car. My guess is that the don’t want it. If not, you can try the same thing at other used car dealers. If no one wants it, you can donate it. The charity will send you a receipt for what they sold it for, and that is what you can deduct. Of course, you have to itemize deductions on your taxes to get a tax benefit. Your best bet might be to sell it to a junk yard.

I’m also willing to be swayed in the best direction, despite the misgivings I may have…

Do you really think CarMax would want a vehicle that had to be towed to them and needs 3 times the amount of money for repairs as it is worth. You have an old discontinued brand , just call around and find a salvage yard to take it off your hands.

Agree with Volvo. You might be able to get a few hundred for it from a salvage yard. They’ll come pick it up, no problem. That’s what I’m going to do with my Olds I guess. I don’t want people from CL coming around and selling in the paper is the same thing.

I feel confident that CarMax doesn’t want the car also. Some salvage yards will pay a few dollars, maybe even a $100 or so for the vehicle when they pick it up if it will roll and a clear title is in it.

Three alternatives

  • Sell it to a salvage yard;
  • Give it to a charity that accepts cars. Car Talk often recommends an NPR charity that does this;
  • Ask your local high school and colleges, including trade schools, if they’d like to have it. Sometimes they’ll use a car like that as a training aid for their student mechanics, then after the students fix it up they might sell it for a tidy profit, to finance more auto-repair test equipment, etc. Both of the later two won’t provide you any money, but possibly you’d get a tax deduction, which is money in the form of a of bigger tax refund check.

This is only 12yrs old with 150k miles

If this was my car, I’d fix the brakes, keep driving it, then figure out what’s up with the hvac

the dents don’t make a car undriveable

Yes, If it was your car you would fix it. It doesn’t sound like they OP is even remotely interested in doing car repairs and lives in a apartment with on street parking, so no place to work on it.

Paying for repairs is probably more than the car would be worth.

Please don’t take this car to Carmax, you would be laughed at. Just call a junkyard.

The heating and cooling system no longer works,

This is important: when you say “cooling system,” do you mean the one that cools the engine, or the one that cools YOU? The first option is (potentially) a Big Flippin’ Deal; the second is just an annoyance.

Since BOTH the heat and A/C is out, I wonder if you have a blower motor/resistor problem. Is no air of any temperature leaving the vents? That’s potentially a $30 fix. Also, brakes/rotors are only slightly more complicated than putting tires on (but absolutely MUST be done right) and, like tires, are a “wear item” and need periodic replacement on ANY car, new or old.

In summary, I suspect a car that needs a $30 part to get the heat/cool back, needs a brake job, and is ugly-ish. Hardly a reason to toss a few month’s wages on a new ride…

If I owned anything in that condition I’d sell it online for parts. The next owner would probably have trouble getting it certified for new plates.

In the past, I’ve taken 3 cars to the wrecking yard, one of which was banged up in a snow storm and would have been too difficult and expensive to repair.

I usually donate non-running vehicles to a local Tech School. I hate to send any vehicle to the salvage yard unless it’s badly rusted.

If you are going to donate a car, don’t forget there are many organizations that take them like Disabled Vets and American Legion. Some of the ones that advertise the most are less beneficial to their clients. I’ve never done it myself but know those who did.

You might try and put an ad on craigslist with pics and full disclosure with a price that works for you. I am sure there are quite a few who would like to fix this car and have there high-schooler drive it for while. Just be careful, a lot of scammers on craigslist, so move at your own risk. Most like to meet somewhere other than their residence but your car is not drive-able.
Carmax only buys cars that they can sell. Sometimes if you are buying from them, they will still “buy” your trade in and sell it at auction. In your case, I don’t think you will even recoup the towing fees.

@Docnick … have you actually done that, sell used car parts online? It seems like a good idea, but I can’t say I’ve every run across a website where there’s anybody doing it. Then again, I haven’t looked for it either. It seems like being able to purchase a used part from somebody would be a great resource to have as an option. I mean besides the obvious method, the recycler network.

@GeorgeSanJose Yes, but I advertised the whole car as not running but a good source of parts. There are local car buying guides who are available both in print and on line.

Her we have KiJiJi where you cam advertise almost anything. I’ve sold appliances, bikes, golf carts, TVs through them.