Which is better: selling my Camry outright or parting it out?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'd like your advice on whether I'd make more money selling my '90 Camry All-Trac outright or by parting it out? The car has 160,000 miles and will soon need a new transmission, valve job, struts and who knows what else? My nephew, who is an auto mechanic, is willing to help me part it out. If I sold it privately, I think I'd get $4,000 to $5,000. Would I do better by parting it out? I'd have to rent a garage in the metro area, plus pay for ads in the paper. I'm a housewife with more time than money. -- Deborah

RAY: Deborah -- and we mean this in the nicest possible way -- you're nuts. Parting it out is a terrible idea.

TOM: To give you an idea of the economics of it, when a junkyard owner takes in a car that still runs, he sells it outright. It's only when a car doesn't run that he takes it apart and sells the individual components.

RAY: And they can stay in business because they have lots of parts for lots of different types of cars. You'd be essentially opening a junkyard with one car. Not a great business plan.

TOM: Right. Can you see some guy walking in and saying, "Do you have a fan motor for an '85 Caprice?" "No," you say, "but I have a seat belt for a '90 Camry All-Trac. You want that?"

RAY: Plus, running all those ads is going to croak you. Even if you get lucky and find three or four people who need parts for a '90 Camry All-Trac on the first try, that's only three or four parts you're going to sell. It's going to take you the rest of your life to sell off the entire car one part at a time.

TOM: So, I'd just sell it "as is" and let the next owner fix it. Or, if your nephew is willing, let him do the repairs and then sell it for a little more.

RAY: But if you try to part this car out yourself, you'll not only be a housewife with more time than money, but you'll also be a housewife with more unsold car parts than money. Trust us, Deborah. Don't do it.

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