Scrap or Keep?

Hello Everyone,

I tried to ask a similar question a few years back on a less civil board, and it being a bit of a controversial topic, the convo ended up going into unproductive territory rather quickly. Still, I assume you guys can handle it while maintaining the respectful, helpful atmosphere this site is known for. My 2000 Chevy Prizm has over 250K miles on it. It still runs well, but I have a newer car with even better gas mileage (plus side curtain airbags) which is going to transition to my sole daily driver soon.

I want to do the best possible thing with this old car. I could recycle it for just a little money. I could sell it for a little more or I could see if someone of lesser means in the community needs it and sell them the car title in exchange for a meal or something.

My concern with giving it away is environmental. The check engine light is on and giving emissions related codes. The thing is though, it’s been like that for so long. 100K miles ago, in an attempt to get the codes to disappear, I replaced the 02 sensors, then the mass flow, then even the caty. Within just a few weeks, the light came back on.

Thanks to a new gasket on the valve cover and a bottle of Lucas Oil Stop Leak a few years back, this vehicle loses at most around a quart of oil per thousand miles from the tailpipe or engine leaks combined. And it still gets 30/mpg. While cars contain many recyclable materials, at least 100 pounds of it probably will just go into a landfill. Plus the process of creating new cars is energy intensive.

So…with all that being said, despite the codes, I’m wondering if it’s still the best environmental practice when you have a safe, high mpg vehicle to just “drive it till the wheels fall off” (unless of course the oil leakage or burning worsens). Or am I talking myself into something dumb?

You are polluting the air and the ground water. The car is near the end of its useful life without spending a ton of money. To sell it, depending on where you live, will require it to pass an emission test which it will not do with the CEL light on.

I’d scrap it. 100 lbs in a landfill is nothing compared to what it spews now. The steel, aluminum and recycleable plastics can live on in new products.

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Unless you are a radical tree lover, the truth is your little car is going to have zero impact in the grand scheme of things. But no offense, but a prism with a lot of miles is simply a junkyard candidate, not something you would give to anyone.

Here’s what I got for some of my cars in th past: $100 junk price for olds with 200k,$500 trade value on a 89 riviera with 530k, $50 for another riviera with 350k, $200 for an olds diesel with 480k. And those were all more or less in the luxury category and good road cars. I rented a couple priizms, and was not a great highway experience.

We ended up doing the car donation with NPR for my moms car. It was an 18 year old van, great shape. It sold at auction for $4500. We tried to donate it to the church but CEL made it a no go. If a little more pollution can help a needy family get by, I am all for it. Chances are new owners will not check the oil and it will be toast soon. Given that, donation to a charity of your choice would be my way to go.

Good ideas above. Me, I’d be inclined to repair whatever’s causing the CEL, and sell it on the used car market. I’d guess you’d get quite a bit of interest, many folks are looking for a reliable good mpg car for a reasonable price, esp true in the Covid era… I wouldn’t give it away, b/c the person getting a free car may not be inclined to do the necessary maintenance to keep in in good repair, safe, and environmentally sound. Fix the CEL problem, then sell it for what the market will bear.

If you identify the car’s engine and transmission configuration, and post the engine’s diagnostic codes, folks here will likely have some ideas what’s causing the CEL to turn on. Since you already replaced the cat, pretty good chance the repair won’t be overly expensive parts-wise.

2000 Chevy Prizm is basically a Toyota Corolla and can last a long time with care… It would make a good 2nd vehicle for when your daily driver breaks down or has to go in for repairs…
Just another option…

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Another vote to just send this thing to salvage yard . Even if you give it away someone who would want a vehicle with this many problems might not even change the registration . So if they crash into someone you might still be liable .

My idea of “recycling” is to buy a used car, perform the needed repairs, then drive it for ten years. A check engine light shouldn’t be difficult to diagnose and repair.

Depends on the location. In Nevada the selling party keeps the license plates and registration. In California, in most cases the plates stay with the car, the selling party records the sale with the DMV.

Liability wise your are ok if you can show the car was sold, but why get into the hassle. Three times I’ve had to go to the main dmv in St. Paul and force the title tranfer. They were all out of deals so not really possible to transfer at the time.

Get a personal computer (PC), then go online.

That might be with their new multi million dollar software a few years ago.

It was a real boondoggle. Local dmvs couldn’t even transact business for months. Then cost more millions to get it straightened out. Mainsframe computer folks trying to implement software in a pc world. I think the governor was Dayton at the time. There are no Dayton stores anymore.

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Producing a new vehicle creates a huge amoun to of pollution. Especially electric vehicles.

You wouldn’t be helping anything by scrapping a driveable vehicle. The would be buyer will just end up paying even more for another vehicle that is in disrepair and have even less money left for repairs for emissions.

What are the emissions codes? EVAP leaks are common.

To clarify, the potential friend I’d donate to does not live in an area with emissions testing and is with it enough to check his vehicle’s oil consistently. It has run well forever and has life left on brakes. Title transfer would be in state, and my limited experience with title transfers has been smooth.

Without knowing the codes it’s impossible to help, but if it was a misfire I’d check the valve clearances. And keep driving the car.

Could be egr also. But who knows?

I had the egr code and light on in my olds northstar. As a guess the shop replaced the $300 valve but still had the fault. When I had the dealer do the water pump I had them clean out the egr passages at the same time. They said if that didn’t do it, the trans had to come out to get to the other ones. It was ok cold but then stumbled when warm and the light would come on or Vic’s versa, don’t remember. So I just unplugged the dang thing and lived with the check engine light for about ten years. No way to reasonably fix it.

Any person that removes, modifies or otherwise renders an emission control device to be inoperative will be subject to a one billion dollar fine by the EPA. How many times has that threat been made on this message board?

Meanwhile, 150,000 catalytic converters have been removed by thieves who are not intimated by a financial penalty.

The check is in the mail but I hope they allow payments.

They’re all called Target now. I imagine the Dayton family still owns a substantial part of the company.

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That name change took place more than 2 decades ago.

Anyone from Minnesota knows that.
Remember when people would jokingly Calle Target, Tarche’, many were convinced Target was French owned.