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When Should You Junk Your Car?

Nothing lasts forever – not even your car. Sure, you love your car. It gets you where you need to go. It’s not easy to part with “old reliable.” But at some point, you have to let go.

How do you know if it’s time to junk your car?

The Repairs Cost More Than the Car’s Worth

Maybe you’ve taken the car to a mechanic or you have a buddy who knows a thing or two about cars. If you come back with a laundry list of repairs that cost more than the car is worth, it may be time to junk it.

If the engine or transmission are going, it’s time to seriously consider taking your car to the junkyard.

How can you tell if your repairs cost more than your car’s worth? Check your vehicle’s Kelley Blue Book Value.

You Don’t Feel Safe Driving the Kids

If the car was made before safety ratings even existed, it may be time to trade it in for a new one. Driving around in a car without airbags is just a tragedy waiting to happen.

If you don’t feel safe driving the kids in the car, junk it.

Even compact vehicles from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s have too low of safety ratings to be truly safe to drive.

New vehicles have essential safety features, including side airbags, that will help keep your family safe in case of an accident. Plus, many new model vehicles also have accident prevention features, like emergency braking, collision alerts and prevention, and backup cameras.

The Check Engine Light Never Goes Off

At this point, you’ve just accepted that the “check engine” light is never going to go off. In fact, it’s been on for years. You never bothered to get it fixed, or maybe you did and new problems just keep popping up.

In either case, you’re probably at a point where you’ve done a lot of damage to your vehicle. It may not be safe to drive anymore. It’s probably better off at the junkyard.

The Car Has Become a Rust Bucket

Maybe the car had some rust on the exterior when you first purchased it, or maybe it’s rusted out since you bought it brand new two decades ago. You knew that rust would someday be a problem. That day has finally arrived.

At this point, the rust has completely taken over the side of the car and even spread to the undercarriage. That’s how you know that it’s time to junk your car.

When rust overtakes the undercarriage, you’re in trouble. The undercarriage is your vehicle’s support, and it supports other important parts – like your brakes and fuel lines.

If your vehicle has now become a rust bucket, it may be time for an upgrade.

Parts are Held Together with Duct Tape

If you’ve taken the “duct tape can fix anything” motto too seriously, it’s time to junk your car. No, you shouldn’t have parts held together with duct tape – I don’t care how strong it is.

Depending on where the tape is, it can actually be a fire hazard.

At this point, your vehicle is literally hanging on by a thread. Why hold onto it?

There’s No Room for Your Growing Family

Maybe you aren’t driving a rust bucket. In fact, your car is still in pretty good shape. But you’ve finally decided to settle down and start a family.

That two-seater isn’t going to cut it when you have two kids in tow. You’re going to have to upgrade to a van or SUV.

If your car’s trade-in value is low or you just don’t need to trade it in, it may be time to junk the car – or sell it privately.

The Mileage is Through the Roof

Once a car reaches 150,000 miles, its value drops significantly. It’s going to be hard to find a private buyer, and the trade-in value will probably be next to nothing.

It doesn’t matter how diligent you’ve been with maintenance and repairs, things are bound to start going wrong with the vehicle at this point.

If your car’s mileage is through the roof, it may be time to call it a day and junk the car. This way, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of trying to find a buyer or negotiating with the dealership.

You Don’t Even Have the Title Anymore

Maybe you’ve lost the vehicle’s title, or you obtained or inherited the vehicle without one. Obtaining a new title for an old car can be a tedious and lengthy process. It can be costly, too.

At some point, you have to decide whether it’s really worth the time and effort. You won’t be able to trade in the car or sell it privately without a title, so your options are limited. Junking the car may be the only practical option.

You’re Moving Up in the World

If you’re driving around in a rust bucket but you can afford a new car, it may be time to let “old reliable” go.

Maybe you’re working a new corporate job, and it’s crucial to uphold a certain image. You may want to consider upgrading to a new, modern vehicle and junking your old car.

Even if your old car is still in good shape, upgrading may be the better option for you and your family. New cars have better safety features and usually drive better overall. If you can comfortably afford a new car payment, there’s no reason to compromise on safety.

It’s Just Falling Apart

Maybe your car is falling apart, but you’re living in denial about it. Sure, the car still drives and moves from one point to another.


  • The windows don’t roll up.
  • The A/C hasn’t worked in years.
  • It smells like someone died in the trunk.
  • The gas tank door is long gone.
  • The interior is completely destroyed.
  • The trunk won’t open.
  • You lost your side mirror years ago.

If most of your car’s features aren’t working, it’s probably time to junk it.

It can be hard to let go of a car, especially if you have good memories in that car. But junking it may be the best option for your safety and the safety of others on the road.

November 5, 2019


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