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My car has negative value! O_O

This is new to me, so I’m hoping it’s something you’ve never seen either, and I hope you get as much of a kick out of it as I do. I went to to appraise the value of my car, but the site locked me out because I use an ad blocker, so I decided to appraise my car at The picture below shows its trade-in value at $-82 due to the adjustments! If I want to buy one from a dealership in the same condition, though, it’s going to cost me $567!

Does anyone have an estimate of what the salvage/scrap value would be if I decided to get rid of it? My tax adviser (my mother - she used to do taxes for Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block) doesn’t recommend I donate it because I don’t itemize my deductions.

Donate or not in your case for taxes makes no difference. Call a salvage yard and see what they say or find a group that might be able to use your vehicle if you would want someone to use it.


Note that the dealer will not offer you negative money for your car. They will probably offer you 3-500 for it, but don’t be fooled because they will sneak 4-600 into the price of the new car. That’s why @VOLVO_V70 's advice is best.


Back in 1973, I had a 1965 Rambler. I was ready for a better car and found a 1971 Ford Maverick Grabber at a Dodge dealer. The price of the Maverick was $2495. The dealer would trade with me for $2200 or I could buy the car straight out for $2000. I bought the car for $2000 and sold the Rambler myself for $250. In December of 2005 I had a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass that I had owned since I bought it new 17 years earlier. We were looking for a car for my wife and found a 2003 Oldsmobile 88 at a reputable used car dealer. The price on the Olds 88 was $14,900. The dealer would trade for my 1978 for $14,500 or I could buy the 2003 Olds outright for $14,200. I bought the 2003 outright and kept the 1978 as an around town car until the fall of 2011 when I sold it for $500. Dealers really don’t want old cars. The ultimate insult was in 2008 when the 1978 Olds Cutlass got hit in a parking lot–just cosmetic damage. My uninsured motorist coverage sent an adjuster to look at the car. She cut a check for $275 on the spot. I said I would go get the title. The adjuster said, “Not on your life, bub. I don’t want your car. Fix it or buy yourself some beer”. I bought the beer.


I realize it won’t make a difference to my taxes, but if I can get a couple hundred for it, it would make a difference to my personal finances? What is the logic of donating it if I could recuperate some money from it? Without the tax deduction there is no incentive to donate other than altruism, and I’m not rich enough to be altruistic at the moment.

Well, that explains it. The last time I bought a motorcycle, the dealership had zero interest in my trade-in, so I’m still riding it. Nobody wants to buy it. I might try listing it on eBay.

We were buying a new car for my friend and his trade in was a Kia that was somewhat dented/banged up in a snow sliding accident. They took off $400 from the new car price for the trade in but at the end of the deal we noticed the Kia was still sitting on the lot with the keys in my friend’s hand. They had zero interest in acquiring the car, so I drove it to my place, fixed it and used it for a while.


If you donate the car, you will get a receipt from the charity after they sell it for the amount they get when they sell it. The only alternative is to donate to a charity that uses it themselves or gives it to a person that uses it. Your car probably won’t be attractive to either charity given the condition. If you can still drive it, take it to three junk yards and see what they will give you for it. You could sell it to someone that needs a cheap ride also. Try advertising it for, say, $300 and see if you get any takers.


I donated a boat to rawhide, they gave me a blank receipt I filled in the amount for the value. Private sale is possible if you want to deal with it if it runs or not, craigslist people buy anything running but a try for $400 might be worth a shot. Maybe one of those $3000 dollar trade in, push pull or drag if you are looking at new. It seems junkers here are $100 to $150 at the scrap yard.

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I got $100 for my 95 Olds Aurora with good panels, glass, interior, V8 engine and transmission, and they even came and got it for no extra charge. I don’t know what the wife did with the money but think she saved it so might be earning .01% on top of it all. Best thing though is I’ve got an extra garage space for my cabinet building project.

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I think any kid would pay $500 for a running Civic, just put it on craigslist.
Also, if you are in CA and you fail smog, the BAR would pay you to take your car off the road. I believe the payment could be up to $1500.

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I live in Florida, where we haven’t done any emissions testing in decades. It definitely wouldn’t pass though, as it has an illuminated CEL. Craigslist couldn’t hurt, but I’m not ready to sell it just yet.

Does it move under its own power?

That car would be worth 8 cents/lb at the local scrap yard, all day every day…and more if you care to go through the trouble of separating “like” metals before drop-off.

Here in Calif you’d probably get $1500 for that car for salvage. Not b/c it is worth that much but b/c Calif wants older cars off the road for emissions reasons. I get letters from the state every year begging me to turn my vehicles in for their cash bribe payment. Not gonna be happening if I have any say about it … lol … Anyway, double check with your state to see if they offer a similar emissions bribe to get your car off the road.

C’mon, George

In Los Angeles, there are still a few people who want a 1998 Civic . . . to DRIVE, not crush

There’s probably a few guys who would pay $1500 if it runs and passes smog

No disagreement here. I’d consider to pay $1500 myself, looks like a nice car for that price. I mean if I was looking to buy another car, which I’m not, and of course it would have to be a manual.

If you are referring to the picture that whitey posted that is not the car in question.

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Yeah, that pic was supplied by Edmunds. If you look at the description of my car, you’ll see it’s red, not white. I was honest when I indicated the car is in rough condition. It’s an eyesore. The clear coat is gone, there’s yellow tape on one of the rear turn signals, and it features body work that says, “I don’t care what it looks like, I just don’t want it to rust.”

If it hasn’t rusted, and you feel like vacationing in a northern state this summer, you could get more money for it up here. Non-rusty old cars go for a premium, especially if they’re good runners.

Last time I was down in your neck of the woods I spent an entire evening in Hollywood getting insanely jealous at all the 80’s and older cars I saw that looked brand new. Up here if it’s more than 10 years old it’s got rust somewhere.

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That’s a good suggestion. The only rust is minor from the sea air. The cars here rust from the top down instead of bottom up, and I’ve mitigated any body rust by sanding, priming, and painting (and occasionally waxing). It’s ugly, but it’s almost rust-free.