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How to get rid of a car and get my college kid a little of his investment back?!?

Any tips on selling a damaged car that is in Fremont, California? The college kid is on his way back to Corvallis, Oregon (via Greyhound) for finals and me…the worried mom…is in Seattle, Washington. My son’s car has broken down far from home and he is ready to throw in the towel - has sunk too much in to a car that seems to be a lemon (2000 Toyota - Corolla that we all thought would run forever). We have donated one car to Car Talk and another to our local NPR station in the last few years…I would love for my son to get just a bit of money out of “junking” this car. Thanks for any help/advice!

what’s wrong with the car to begin with?
If the timing belt snapped and the engine is shot, towing it to the scrap yard is about all you can do to it. Same thing if the engine was ran dry of oil(i.e. oil light came on and he continued to drive it).

History of the vehicle, mileage, etc. would be most helpful

Please tell us all the ways this car is a lemon.
I have always felt Japanese cars are a vastly overrated myth.
In reality, you can expect at least two $600 repairs a year after you hit 70k.


At some point, you and a lot of other people are going to have to ask themselves why they bothered sending their kids to college…

The total outstanding student loans are now over a Trillion dollars…The crapped-out Corrola is the least of your problems…Cars are not “investments”… They are disposable consumer goods…Your kid will learn more on the Greyhound than he did his last six months in school…

Thanks for the helpful comments…

I should have been more specific. I don’t know how to go about finding or approaching a scrap yard (except for using google) to “sell” the car to. I was trying to say that I know how to donate a car, but not how to go about scrapping one - especially from 2 states away. Tips on how to get the most or things to be careful of would be greatly appreciated.

We have had a Corolla and a Camry that ran for ever and yes they eventually needed $200 - $800 some years, never anything as major as what has already occurred with this car.

The car blew a cylinder soon after he purchased it (yes, we did have our mechanic test it out). Used engine put in which was over $2000, now the flex plate on the back of the engine broke ($200), the transmission is leaking ($80 if only a new seal, or $2000 for replacement), but to see what is wrong with transmission requires pulling which is $625 to start.

Google or Yahoo “auto recyclers fremont california”:;_ylt=AsUBrdz8Fb320PLOnLXeCeObvZx4?fr=yfp-t-527-s&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&p=auto%20recyclers%20fremont%20ca

I suspect this poor Corolla has seen some pretty rough treatment…How it usually works, just tell the tow-truck driver to haul it to the scrap yard of his choice and he can keep the change…He will want you to FAX him the title followed up with the original…He MIGHT give you $50 if the car is in otherwise decent shape…

As suggested, Google “auto recyclers” in the area where the car is and sell it to one of them. Scrap cars in my area (IL) are going for at least $400-500, sometimes more, especially if it has aluminum wheels.

I think mleich has the right idea. Call junk yards in your area and see who is willing to give you the most for the car. Then have the best one come out and haul it away.


While you’re right that the idea that a Japanese (or any other) car can go to 200,000 with only oil changes and tires is stupid, you’re also a bit pessimistic with the “$1200 in repairs every year after 70k” comment.

Just because Japanese cars are not the indestructible reliability gods that some make them out to be does not mean they are not very reliable, or that they’re not more reliable than some other cars.

My gambling money would be that the cracked flexplate was caused by whoever installed the engine.

The converter likely pulled off one of the sets of splines on the transmission during engine removal and someone did not verify the converter was fully seated before bolting the replacement engine up. This will lead to the flexplate being distorted and eventually cracking at some point in time.

I wouldn’t necessarily blame these problems on the Toyota being a Lemon. Odds are that these problems were inflicted upon the car rather than it being a case of a faulty automobile.

You could try listing it on Craigslist with a Make an Offer" notation and see what happens. This could bring it much more money as compared to a salvage yard.