Selling a Totaled Car: 5 Tips How to Sell a Wrecked Car at the Highest Price

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Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

If you got into a major car accident and your insurance company says it’s a totaled car, that obviously causes a huge problem for your daily driving needs. Selling a wrecked car may seem like a super complicated and drawn-out process, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on to see what your options are for selling a totaled car and which option is best for you. 

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Wrecked Car?

The cost to repair a totaled car will vary depending on many factors. An old pick-up will be more expensive than a new BMW. A car that got rear-ended with only body damage will be cheaper to repair than a car that got into a head-on collision with critical (blown engine symptoms) damage. That said, a car that has been in a serious accident that your insurance company has deemed “totaled” will cost a lot to repair. Let’s look at some major expenses you may be hit with. 

Expense #1 Frame Damage

If you get into a severe accident, there is a real possibility your car may have sustained frame damage. This is a major repair, as your car's frame (chassis) is the “backbone” of your car. It’s what holds everything — the drivetrain, suspension, and body — of the car together. Obviously, it’s essential. 

On more modern cars, chassis have a built-in “crumple zone,” which is meant to, as you guessed it, crumple during a collision. This is a fail-safe meant to crumple so that the body itself (where you and your passengers are located) isn’t the weakest link that crumples with you in it. 

Because it’s such a vital part of the car and can take quite a lot of effort to bend the metal back to its correct shape, repairing frame damage can be very costly. On top of that, many insurance companies would rather total a car than fix frame damage because they view it as unsafe. If you can safely drive the car after getting frame damage repairs, it will cost you anywhere from $600 all the way up to over $10,000, depending on the severity of the damage. 

Expense #2 Drivetrain damage

Just like your car’s chassis, your car’s drivetrain is extremely important and integral to the functioning of your car. If you got into a front-end collision, you likely have some drivetrain damage. This includes everything attached to the engine, including the radiator, alternator, and many more parts required for the engine to run. In a really severe accident, the engine may even get knocked off the mounts and may even knock the transmission and the driveshaft out of alignment.  

You won’t be able to drive without an engine in full working order; you must fix it before ever trying to drive it again. And because an engine consists of so many parts, fixing it will be costly. The absolute minimum you should expect to pay for drivetrain damage is around $1500 and could go way, way higher depending on how bad it is. 

Expense #3 Body damage

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If you get into an accident, even a minor one, it’s safe to assume your car will have body damage. This could mean the bumper, side panels, quarter panels, wing mirrors, bonnet, doors, windshield, and even the wheels. Even without structural damage, these cosmetic repairs will add up. In this case, it’s not just replacing any of the parts we mentioned; it’s also the installation as well as a paint job to get the car looking all in one piece.

A collision from the side will often damage at least one-quarter panel, the doors, windows, and at least one wheel. A collision at an ¼ angle will often damage at least one-quarter panel, one wheel, the bonnet, and possibly the windshield. A collision from the rear will likely involve damage to the one-quarter panel, the trunk, and the rear bumper. As you can see, even just body damage can quickly add up. A small case of body damage will begin around $200 and can very easily go upwards of $2500 depending on the car and the accident. And this is even before you consider things like headlights and brake lights, which will set you back another few hundred dollars at least!

Is It Possible to Sell a Wrecked Car?

The short answer is yes, it’s possible to sell a wrecked vehicle. Asking yourself, “How to get money for a wrecked car?” or, more importantly, how to get THE MOST money for your wrecked car will mean you have to take a look at all of your options. 

Since no private seller will want to buy a totaled car (with a whole load of expenses they’ll have to fix), you won’t be able to sell it like that. So what are your solutions? Your insurance company may buy it and give you what it’s worth minus your deductible. You can take it to a salvage yard, and they may give you one price for the whole thing, and then they may part it out themselves. You can take it to a scrap metal recycler, although they are notoriously cheap, and you won’t get as much money as you could get elsewhere. Your best bet is to sell it to a junk car buyer like JunkCarsUS. Check out our page where we buy wrecked cars.  

5 Main Tips to Sell a Wrecked Car

Tip #1 Sell it to your insurance company

If you get into a major accident, your insurance company will likely write it off as a total loss (also known as a “totaled car.”) This is because a vehicle that’s been in a major accident is less safe than a non-damaged car. A less safe car means that the insurance is taking a greater risk insuring it, so they will most likely cut their losses and say the car needs to be taken off the road and will offer you a cash settlement you can put towards a new car. 

So yes, you can sell a wrecked car to your insurance company, but you have to keep in mind they will give you the lowest amount possible AND remove the cost of your deductible from your payment, meaning it might not be your best option for getting rid of it. 

Tip #2 Take it to a salvage car auction

This is another option on how to sell a wrecked car, but there are definitely a few things that make this not your best choice. 

The first thing is: you have to get it to the auction site! There aren’t many auction sites, which means you may have to take it very far away from where you live. The cost of a tow truck is expensive enough just towing it to your local mechanic in town, but driving it long distances will quickly add up in costs. Beyond that, once you get it there, people will want to bid the lowest price possible for a car that isn’t in good shape at all. And even worse, you’re not guaranteed to sell the car! Imagine towing your car all the way there, then having to tow it all the way back home because no one wanted to buy it! You would spend hundreds of dollars for nothing!

Tip #3 Sell it to a salvage yard

A salvage yard will take your damaged car and part it out themselves. They’re basically a middleman that gives you cash for junk cars and then sells the parts they can salvage to local mechanics to use as refurbished parts. This may seem like a good idea, but again, one of the highest costs you’ll have to pay for is the towing over to the yard. It’s unlikely you’ll get a price guarantee from the yard before you take it over there, so it’s definitely one of the more risky ways on how to sell a totaled vehicle because you may even pay more for the tow truck than the amount of cash you get! 

Tip #4 Sell it to a scrap metal yard

A scrap metal yard will buy metal from any source (not just cars but even old appliances) and resell it to a metal recycler. Often because they will have to part the car out and clean any fluids (motor oil, transmission fluid, etc.) before selling it to a recycler, that’s another step in the process that they will have to pay for. And because they’re paying for it, it means you’ll get less money for your junk car this way. And, again, you’ll have to tow it over there. 

Tip #5 Sell it to a junk car buyer like JunkCarsUS

Selling your totaled car to a junk car buyer is the best way on how to sell a totaled car for the most amount of money. Especially when you use JunkCarsUS, which will give you free towing and a top-dollar guarantee!

If Your Car is Wrecked, Consider Selling Your Junk Car To JunkCarsUS

Like we said, getting rid of a totaled car can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. This is especially the case when you use JunkCarsUS because we buy totaled cars. So how simple can it be?

Trading cash for your junk cars is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with JunkCarsUS. With over 12 years in the junk car buying industry, we have a simple 3-step process that makes junking your car as simple as possible! 

  1. Call us at (855) 547-1550 and speak to one of our friendly customer service representatives. Over the phone, give them the make, model, year, condition, and mileage on your car, and we’ll give you a cash offer on the spot. You can also go on our website and get an instant offer from our scrap car value calculator in less than 90 seconds.
  2. Once you accept your cash offer, tell us the time and place that’s most convenient for you for us to pick it up. We even offer same-day pickup!
  3. Get your junk car towed for FREE! Remember all the options above that require you to tow your car over to them? Not with JunkCarsUS! We will send a trusted tow truck driver over to you and have it removed completely free of cost. 

If you’re worried about the paperwork, don’t be! With our experience and thousands of junk cars bought, we know exactly what forms need to be filled out and exactly how to do it. As long as you give us the information over the phone, we’ll give them to the tow truck driver already filled out and ready for you to sign on the dot. 

So if you have a wrecked or even completely totaled car you don’t want to repair, give JunkCarsUS a call at (855) 547-1550 or go online and fill out an online application today! 


What can I do with a wrecked car?

If you have a wrecked car and the cost of repairs is worth more than the car, you do have options for selling it. It’s up to you, though, to check all your options and see the costs and payouts of each because they differ. Your best bet is to sell it to us at JunkCarsUS.

Who buys totaled cars?

Surprisingly, there are a lot of people who buy junk cars. Just not private buyers, most likely. You can sell it to your insurance company, a salvage yard, a scrap metal yard, or a junk car buying service like JunkCarsUs.

Can I get an insurance payout from a wrecked car?

Yes, your insurance company will likely buy your wrecked car, as a severely damaged car is a liability issue for them to insure. However, they will try to save themselves as much money as possible, which means giving you the least amount of money they can get away with AND subtracting your deductible from that price.

What is the best way to sell a wrecked car?

The easiest, simplest, and most cost-effective way to sell your totaled car is to sell it to JunkCarsUS. We will give you friendly customer service, a top-dollar guarantee, free towing, AND fill out all the paperwork for you. All you have to do is call us, set up an appointment, and sign on the dotted line.

What if someone else gets in an accident in your car?

A lot of people wonder — what happens if your friend crashes your car? In most cases, the answer is that if someone else crashes your vehicle, you are the responsible one, so your collision insurance has to cover the damages to the car.

Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

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