Getting rid of that old junker sitting in your driveway should be easy, right? Unfortunately, getting cash for your junk car might get difficult if you choose to do it yourself, or if you don’t have all the correct information on your vehicle’s title.

What Is a Title?

The vehicle title is a piece of paper that proves you own your car. If you bought your car used from an acquaintance — or if it was given to you as a gift — you may not have dealt with any of the licensing and registration processes. This means that you might not know where your title is. You might not have it at all. Read on for more on this subject if this sounds familiar.

Why Is it Hard to Junk Your Own Car?

Depending on the shape your car is in, you could elect to pay a tow company to take your vehicle to a junkyard. However, this can be a costly process and it isn’t without risk. A scrap dealer could agree to pay a certain amount for your car before you bring it in, and then change the price once you drag your clunker all the way to them. Even if you get an offer in writing, you’ll have to keep an eye out for language in the contract that lets the yard change the price on you.

Alternatives to DIY

Most major cities and many small towns have services that come to you, give you cash, and then tow your car away. The one caveat is that you’ll definitely have to prove you own the vehicle. For example, companies that help you junk a car in Chicago require you to prove that you own the vehicle and before they even give you the time of day.

Above Board

Even in a place that isn’t as litigious as the Windy City, the reasons behind this requirement are relatively obvious. Nobody wants to risk being held liable for buying a vehicle without knowing who owns it. Get your paperwork in order before you call a company to come take your car away.

You can take care of obtaining a duplicate title by mail, or else you can go in to the office in person. There are typically several office locations in and around most major cities, so check with your local authorities.

What Are the Costs?

Your main cost in time and money will likely be the application itself. If you need a duplicate title, you might face a fee for processing the document. Title transfers are often the same price as a new title.

If you received the car as a gift and your family member or your friend did not complete the necessary steps, perform the transfer as if you just received the vehicle. In the future, it would probably be a good idea to perform title transfers immediately after you accept the vehicle, just to be on the safe side.

Since the process is relatively complicated, your net profit from selling a junk car to a reputable company will often be more than the combined cost of independent towing and junkyard negotiations. You also usually get your money much more quickly this way. Just make sure you have your title in order, or a straight-dealing company probably won’t touch your car.

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Emily Muelford

Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.

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