What is an Unwanted Car?

This guide explains what an unwanted car is, all the synonyms of an unwanted car, and takes an in-depth look at what is an unwanted car, its prices, removal, buyers, laws, and more.

    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    What is The Definition of an Unwanted Car?

    Any motor vehicle that the owner wants to get rid of is an unwanted car. Damaged cars and inoperable cars are examples of unwanted cars that people do not know how to get rid of. Any vehicle year, make, or model can be an unwanted car depending on the circumstances. However, most unwanted vehicles being disposed of by vehicle owners are over 10 years old. Unwanted cars can be in any condition, and they may still be running vehicles. Unwanted cars can be sold as used cars, or repaired and sold, but vehicle owners don’t know how to go about doing so. These vehicles typically have a lot of miles on them and get low gas mileage, and they may need some repairs of varying severity.

    Synonyms of Unwanted Cars

    There are not any true synonyms for unwanted cars, but there are other names unwanted cars could be called depending on their condition and the type of junk car. Unwanted cars can also be lemon cars, scrap cars, salvage cars, clunkers, beater cars, rusted cars, old cars, unregistered cars, derelict cars, decrepit cars, incomplete cars, inoperable cars, totaled cars, wrecked cars, end-of-life vehicles, or abandoned cars.

    An In-Depth Look at Unwanted Cars

    An unwanted car is a vehicle that is no longer of use to its owner. Unwanted cars make up a large number of the junk cars removed from private property across the nation. Even though many vehicle owners use their old cars as a trade-in on a new vehicle, there are many people who have unwanted cars. Finding a private buyer for an unwanted car can be a hassle, and many people are beginning to turn to junk car buyers to get rid of their unwanted cars in any condition.

    Unwanted cars can be in any condition, and many of them are still running. There are several reasons someone might want to get rid of an unwanted car of any year, make, model, or condition. Popular vehicles are more likely to become unwanted cars because there are so many of them on the roads. According to Statista, the 5 most popular car brands are Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, and Honda.

    Unwanted cars are a big portion of the used car sales market. Private car sales are not tracked or included in the market size of used car sales, but many unwanted vehicles are now being sold to “junk” car dealers. The unwanted cars are then sold in lots at auction to provide used car dealers with their inventory. Per International Business Information Systems, the total size of the used car market is $145.9 billion as of 2023. Most unwanted cars in running condition sold to junk car buyers end up in buy here pay here used car lots, where 2.6 million Americans bought vehicles in 2019. Unwanted cars that are inoperable, damaged, wrecked, or totaled are instead passed on to the automotive recycling industry, which is worth $67 billion in 2023 according to imarc, another market research firm.


    How does a car become an Unwanted Car?

    A car becomes an unwanted car by living out its usefulness to its owner. Here are 12 common ways cars become unwanted cars.

    1. The owner of the unwanted car purchased a new vehicle. Unwanted cars are the result when a vehicle owner decides to change or upgrade their mode of transportation and their old car was not used as a trade-in. Many people like the convenience of trading in an unwanted car as a down-payment, but Consumer Reports warns that you will get wholesale value at best.
    2. The owner no longer needs the vehicle. There are many reasons one might find they no longer need a vehicle. A car no longer needed to maneuver a large property or run small errands is a common unwanted car. Vehicle owners also have unwanted cars when they are no longer able to drive for whatever reason. For example, per data from Zippia, 70% of seniors over the age of 65 will require nursing home care at some point, and those vehicles become unwanted cars that family must dispose of. A vehicle purchased for a teen that has since become an adult with their own car is also an unwanted vehicle.
    3. The owner no longer has storage for the vehicle. Some unwanted vehicles are cars that the owner wouldn’t get rid of if they had the space to store them. Often this is the result of downsizing or being unable to afford the rent for a space in a private garage. According to Neighbor.com, indoor parking garage storage costs between $200 to $400 per month, which can be taxing on the 40% of seniors living on fixed incomes in the United States as reported by the National Council on Aging. Common unwanted cars of this type include old cars, vintage cars, collectible cars, antique cars, classic cars, and cars of historical significance.
    4. The incomplete car is no longer need or is an unwanted car. Incomplete cars that become unwanted cars include parts cars that are no longer of use and car restoration or resto-mod projects that have been abandoned. Body Shop Business reported in 2022 that 80% of classic car owners feel comfortable doing at least some of the repairs themselves. This is a good indicator of the number of parts cars and incomplete cars that could become unwanted cars each year.
    5. The owner inherited the unwanted car and has no use for it. Inheriting unwanted cars is very common. Car owners have the ability to add a “transfer on death” beneficiary that automatically gains ownership of the vehicle upon the death of the owner. The idea is to avoid probate and eliminate the need for a will when there is little property of value to the estate. Unfortunately, this results in many unwanted cars going to individuals that do not have the room for storage or the time to sell, nor do they have use for the vehicles. Many times these unwanted cars become an unwelcome headache in a time of grief.
    6. The wrecked car was in a car accident and is no longer safe to drive. There are about 15 million car crashes in the United States every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) site shows that there are about 5 million passenger vehicle accidents reported per year, with an estimated 10 million car accidents going unreported. About 20% of these occur in parking lots where seemingly minor damage could be hiding unsafe driving conditions.
    7. The totaled car was retained and needs to be sold as salvage. Wrecked cars or damaged cars that are deemed more expensive to repair than they are worth are totaled by the insurance company and issued a salvage certificate by the state DMV. These salvage cars can be retained by the owner to get more cash by selling the unwanted car instead of allowing the insurance company to keep it for a smaller payout overall.
    8. The inoperable car costs more to repair than it is worth. Even when a vehicle is well maintained, every car reaches the end of its life at some point. Inoperable cars that are suddenly money pits become unwanted cars that need to be hauled away. Depending on how much work was done on the car before it is hauled away, unwanted cars could be difficult to sell when in pieces. Junk car buyers are not picky about condition and will accept the car in total even if some parts are loose in the car.
    9. The unwanted car was a lemon car that is unsafe to drive. Lemon cars are cars that people buy from a car dealer then break down soon after purchase. There is no protection for consumers who buy lemon cars that are used in most states, and there is no protection against buying lemon cars for used vehicles at the federal level. Therefore, individuals buying used lemon cars end up with unwanted cars that they don’t know how to unload.
    10. The unwanted car cannot be registered. There are many reasons a car cannot be registered and thus becomes an unwanted car. The main reason unregistered cars become unwanted cars is that it is too expensive to make the repairs necessary to pass the required safety and emissions inspections for registration. Cars that were registered in another state but do not qualify for registration in a new state of residence also become unwanted cars when there is no way they can reasonably returned to the roads in that state. Almost every municipality has laws against having unregistered vehicles in public view, making getting rid of these unwanted cars a top priority for most owners.
    11. The abandoned car was left on private property. Cars are abandoned on private property all the time, and when the property is large abandoned cars could go unnoticed for any length of time. This makes it hard to find the owner of the car to have it removed, but there are options. Some states give property owners a “certificate of authority” that allows them to dispose of a vehicle abandoned on their property when the vehicle has no value other than as scrap. Other states allow municipalities to remove abandoned unwanted cars from private property.
    12. The unwanted car was a barn find. Barn finds are old cars that are discovered in dilapidated barns and empty fields. These cars are usually in poor condition but are often vintage cars, antique cars, classic cars, or collectible cars. This makes these unwanted cars worth more money to the right buyer, but finding that buyer takes time in which the unwanted car is just taking up space.

    Any time a vehicle has outlived its usefulness to its owner, even if it has usefulness to someone else, is considered an unwanted car. People often feel stuck with these types of unwanted cars and do not know how to unload them.

    What are some common characteristics of Unwanted Cars?

    Unwanted cars can by any vehicle, in any condition. However, there are 4 common characteristics of unwanted cars.

    1. Unwanted cars are often unregistered, either because they cannot pass inspections or because it is too costly to bring the vehicle into compliance for another reason.
    2. Unwanted cars may be missing the title, especially when they have been found as in the case of abandoned cars and barn finds.
    3. Unwanted cars are usually older cars, with the average age of a car on the road today sitting at 12 years according to Recycling Today.
    4. Unwanted cars have typically been unwelcome for months or years before vehicle owners decide what to do with them.

    Unwanted cars can be in any condition, but as used cars most will have some type of visible damage even if it is just some scratches in the paint.

    Are unwanted cars junk cars?

    Not all unwanted cars are junk cars, but junk car buyers pay for unwanted cars of any condition. In this way unwanted cars could be considered junk cars. Unwanted cars that are damaged or inoperable are also junk cars.

    What is an Unwanted Car worth?

    How much an unwanted car is worth depends on the year, make, model, condition, and recent prices for similar vehicles in your area. The type of vehicle affects the worth of unwanted cars most when sold as scrap because each vehicle is made with different amounts of different metals.

    What are the price ranges of unwanted cars?

    The price range of unwanted cars is based largely on the demand for the vehicle, the vehicle’s condition, and average used car prices where you live.

    What are the most valuable car parts on unwanted cars?

    The most valuable car parts on unwanted cars depends on the type of vehicle. The engine and transmission are always valuable whether or not they are in working order. When a vehicle is popular all of its car parts that tend to give out over time have value. Even the frame and body of vintage cars, antique cars, classic cars, and other old cars can be of high value to the right car restoration shop or hobbyist.

    What are the most valuable metals in unwanted cars?

    Most of the value of unwanted cars comes in the form of recyclable steel and other iron alloys. This makes up 55 to 65 percent of the average vehicle, including the drive train, frame, and body. Transmissions are made of aluminum, sometimes with a cast iron casing, both of which have high value as scrap metal recycling. Other valuable metals found in unwanted cars include platinum, palladium, rhodium, and magnesium.

    What is an unwanted scrap car shell worth?

    Unwanted cars that are nothing more than a scrap car shell or scrap car hulk still have value as scrap metal. The average unwanted car with value only as scrap metal recycling is worth depending on how much of the vehicle is still present.

    What to do with an Unwanted Car?

    Many vehicles are only kept in the owner’s possession because they don’t know what to do with their unwanted car. Here is what you can do with an unwanted car based on its condition.

    • All unwanted cars: All unwanted cars can be donated to a charity. Charities accept car donations, then sell them at auction through a junk car buyer. Charities usually get less than wholesale value for unwanted cars they receive as donations. All unwanted cars can also be sold to a junk car buyer, regardless of its condition, but not all car buyers pay fair prices for running vehicles.
    • Unwanted cars in running condition. When you have an unwanted car that still has some life left to it you can sell it to an individual or a car buyer like Junk Car Medics. Finding an individual buyer can take time and be very frustrating. Selling to a car buyer is easier and faster. You can also use unwanted cars that can be driven to the dealership for trade-in as a down payment.
    • Unwanted cars that don’t run but are in demand. Unwanted cars that are inoperable cars but are of a make and model that is in demand are welcomed by junkyards and salvage yards when they still have reusable car parts that can turn a profit. Junk car buyers also buy these unwanted cars and pass them on to junkyards, auto salvage yards, auto dismantlers, and used auto parts stores in your area.
    • Unwanted cars that don’t run and have no value other than as scrap. Most people don’t realize that even completely inoperable unwanted cars have value. It isn’t as hard to get rid of these unwanted cars as many people believe. Every unwanted car has at least some value as scrap metal and therefore can be sold to vehicle recyclers and scrap yards. Junk car buyers also take unwanted cars of this type and pass them on to the next logical step in the vehicle recycling journey.
    • Unwanted classic, antique, and vintage cars. There is not a market for every vehicle that falls within the years for classic, antique, vintage, and other historically significant cars. However, when an unwanted car is of the right make and model, these vehicles can bring a great price with the right buyer.

    Junk Car Medics is the best way to get rid of unwanted cars of any year, make, model, or condition. Junk Car Medics uses a proprietary system to take into account all of the factors that affect prices for unwanted cars, including local demand for the vehicle. When unwanted cars have value other than as scrap metal or salvage car parts, Junk Car Medics is able to find the right buyer for the right vehicle. This allows us to give sellers of unwanted cars the best price possible for their vehicle.

    Can I sell an unwanted car with no title?

    Yes, you can sell an unwanted car with no title in most states as long as you can prove ownership. Some states require that the vehicle must have been previously titled in the vehicle owner’s name to sell an unwanted car with no title. All state DMVs can provide information on the necessary paperwork and process to sell unwanted cars with no title. Junk Car Medics locations in all 50 states can also assist with identifying and completing the required paperwork to sell unwanted cars without a title.

    Can I sell an unwanted car with no registration?

    Yes, you can sell an unwanted car with no registration in all 50 states. Many types of unwanted cars cannot be registered, and some cars like classics, antiques, and vintage cars are not eligible for registration. However, you can use the previous registration to prove ownership to sell unwanted cars with no title.

    Who buys unwanted cars?

    Here are 3 places who buy unwanted cars regardless of condition.

    1. Individuals buy unwanted cars. Individuals buy unwanted cars in various conditions. Unwanted cars that could still be driven for some time can be sold to individuals via many online platforms and marketplaces. However, selling to an individual takes time. Vintage, classic, and antique cars are in demand from individuals needing them to restore another vehicle. Hobbyists also buy unwanted cars for their recyclable steel for use in metal sculptures, forging blades, or blacksmithing hobbies.
    2. Junkyards, salvage yards, and auto dismantlers buy unwanted cars. Unwanted cars that still have salvageable used car parts are in demand by junkyards, salvage yards, and auto dismantlers to fuel the $6.5 billion used auto parts industry, as reported by IBIS in 2023. However, not all junkyards, salvage yards, and auto dismantlers buy unwanted cars from the general public, and one might need to go through a junk car dealer.
    3. Junk car buyers pay cash for unwanted cars they remove. Junk car buyers are the easiest people to work with of all the places who buy unwanted cars. This is because junk car buyers do all of the legwork for you. Junk car buyers will remove the vehicle as part of the quote for your unwanted car so that you don’t even have to worry about how you are going to have the unwanted car towed away.

    Junk Car Medics is the best junk car buyer because we work with all of the junk car facilities, used car parts stores, and used car dealers that require unwanted cars for their inventory. Junk Car Medics has a proprietary system that makes selling unwanted cars quick, easy, painless, and rewarding.

    How to choose a car buyer for your unwanted car

    Choosing a car buyer for your unwanted car is an important decision, especially when the unwanted vehicle is not a junk car. Here are 5 things to look for in a car buyer for your unwanted car.

    1. Experience: The junk car industry was worth just $25 billion in 2019, but has grown to $67 billion as of 2023 per imarc market research. This means there are a lot of new players on the field that don’t have the experience necessary to give the best prices and service for removal of all unwanted cars regardless of age or condition. Junk Car Medics has been dealing in unwanted cars since 2016.
    2. Quick junk car quotes and easy to accept offer for unwanted cars. Not all junk car buyers have easy quote systems or instant cash offers. The more transparent a car buyer is the more secure you can be that you are getting a fair deal. Junk Car Medics has a proprietary online system that can be accessed over the internet or with an agent by phone to generate instant cash offers for unwanted cars that are guaranteed for up to 7 days.
    3. Easy, painless, and free removal of unwanted cars. The best junk car buyers will handle removal of the unwanted car and without charging up front. The cost of towing away the unwanted car should be included in the price you are given for your unwanted car. Junk Car Medics works with the best local towing companies to give the most painless and rewarding experience selling unwanted cars.
    4. Painless and rewarding assistance to sell unwanted cars. When unwanted cars do not have a title, selling them to a junk car buyer can be frustrating. Some junk car buyers will give low-ball prices for unwanted cars with no title rather than helping owners obtain a title or the appropriate paperwork that can take the place of one, depending on state law.
    5. Rewards you with cash on pick up of unwanted cars. The best junk car buyers will give payment, usually by check, when the unwanted vehicle is removed from your property, or wherever it currently sits. Junk Car Medics always pays on pick up of unwanted cars unless it is arranged otherwise ahead of time.

    Junk Car Medics stands out from other junk car buyers because we work with all of the entities that make use of unwanted cars at every stage. This allows us to give better prices and ensures that unwanted cars go to the next logical step in their life cycle.

    About The Author

    Scroll to Top