What to do with a DONOR car?

OK - need some advice. I have a 1995 Isuzu Rodeo that threw a crank bearing. Not worth repairing. But I just bought an identical model/year rodeo and plan to keep the first one for donor parts as needed. This brings up some questions:

Can I stop insuring the donor vehicle?
Can I declare it “totaled” and not pay property tax on it?
ANy other issues or advice?


You don’t say what state you are in so no comment on taxes. Why would you need to insure a car with no value that can’t get out on the road? Drop the insurance.

You don’t say where you will store this doorstop. Many cities won’t let you park it where it can be seen or without current registration which you don’t want and can’t get in many states without insurance. Check your local laws. This thing would take up lots of space so why not strip it of the good bits and sell the rest to a metal scrapper?

Do you have a place out-of-sight to store the vehicle where it won’t be a nuisance to your neighbors? If so, you can probably get away without re-registering it when the registration expires. That means you can probably drop the insurance too.

If you’re going to use it for the parts, why not harvest the parts you want to save and get rid of the rest of the vehicle?

If your donor car will become an “eyesore” to your neighbors, better to just get rid of it…You can craigslist it as a “Parts Car” and get surprising money for it…

If you keep it, of course drop the insurance and registration…But once you take the plates off it, some locals will call it an “abandoned vehicle” and hassle you over it…

Take everything off you might need and store the parts in a garage or shed. If its a controlled environment, all the better. If you leave the Rodeo in the yard, much of the stuff you might want to keep will be damaged by the elements. Then get rid of the remainder. I’m assuming that the body and frame are of no use to you and you only want interior, suspension, and drive train parts.

If the parts car is no longer registered (no license plates), you should not have to pay taxes. Since you can’t drive it, no insurance is needed.

Just donate the old car to your local NPR radio station

It’s a legitimate tax write-off

I’d strip it of what I thought I might need (alternator, starter, headlights, taillights, etc.) and get rid of it. I wouldn’t want to have get rid of the old gas, etc, and having a junk car around just isn’t worth the minor savings down the road.

Remember that you can scrap the body for ~$0.12/lb. Pull off all the parts you need now, or reasonably forsee needing at some point, and tow the rest to the scrap yard. $300 never hurt anybody!

The big issue is whiny neighbors and city code; even if you keep a tarp over it.
If the above is an issue then my suggestion is to strip the parts that could come in handy later (especially electrical, etc) mark them with masking tape/marker, and tuck them away in boxes for further use if needed.

Rest goes to boneyard.

I’ve stripped down more than my share of donor cars over the years. I’ve always done it with the car parked in a garage so I can avoid keeping either insurance or current registration on it. When finished, I call the scrap yard, and tell them they’ll need a tilt bed to get the hulk. (I usually don’t leave them much.) If you can get it to the yard yourself, you can get money for it, but if they come get it, they’ll just take it away for free. Make sure you have the title with you, and make sure the person picking it up signs it. I usually wrote “scrapped” on it with a black permanent market, just to be sure it didn’t come back to “haunt” me later.

If you’re going to leave it outside, I echo others here who say strip it down as quickly as possible and get rid of the rest. You’re neighbors don’t want to look at a pile of junk sitting in your driveway, and i can’t say as I blame them.

Property tax? Where do you live that you pay property tax on a car?

Insurance? Why would you ever have insurance on a car that doesn’t drive? Drop it.

Registration? Only needs to be current if the car is on a public road.

If you do keep it, make sure it’s in the back yard or in the garage. It’s just a nice thing to do. Your neighbors may not want to look out the front window and see a rusting hulk across the street. Unless they have one of their own.

One of my neighbors has SEVERAL wrecks in her driveway.

We all hate her for that.

On the other hand, her front yard is immaculate, and we envy her for that.

If her front yard wasn’t immaculate, she would have no saving graces whatsoever.

I just keep the donor vehicles out of sight. I have kept them on a relatives farm out in the country. I strip them quickly and sell or give any unneeded parts to friends and family. I them sell the rest of the body and frame to the crusher. This usually takes a couple of days to accomplish so my “donor” vehicles are not much of an eyesore.

Yeah really, keep it out of site. Where we used to live there was an empty lot next door, owned by a neighbor a couple houses down. His son had an old Buick convertible that was going to be restored. Every winter though he’d park it on the lot in full view of everyone. It looked really tacky plus was a concern with little kids playing in the area. All of us complained to the neighbor and they are probably still mad, and it took years to get it moved. Now there is an ordinance that requires cars, boats, RVs, etc. to be parked on hard surfaces if they are there for any length of time.

When the kid visits, with his new BMW, I park my third car out back so he has a garage stall. But its only for a week and no one can really see it back there, but you have to respect the neighbors in a residential area.

@asemaster: “Registration? Only needs to be current if the car is on a public road.”

I’m pretty sure that varies by state, and maybe even county/city too. I know people in my old neighborhood reported a neighbor who had an unregistered car he kept in his driveway, which forced him to finally get rid of it.

Around here you’d have to have a picky neighbor who wanted to pick a bone with you. I think there’s a city code that says you have to have it registered or behind a fence or in a garage, but I think that’s rarely enforced.

Our city ordanance requires on a pad and current license tabs. Its really a good thing in town.

Same in my city. Current tabs required if it sits outside. Plus, in the winter, starting Oct 15, no more on-street parking until April 15.

I know! Remember the mean old lady that used the police to badger the guy with the pickup? After you strip off all the parts you want, take off the plates and leave it in front of her house!

@drrocket We’ve got one of your guys as our new police chief and lo and behold the city administrator was pushing for no on steet parking during the winter. I thought it was totally ridiculous and they shot it down. Seems like a common sense policy of off the street if over 2" of snow until plowed curb to curb has worked for years. Ticketing and towing a few violators would go a long way in clearing the street for snow removal. Like the mayor said, “so we want to inconvenience 5000 familes for the benefit of 18 plow drivers?”