How would I sell a car that can't be driven?

Last month, my car’s oil light started flickering randomly. I brought it in for an early oil change, figuring that would do the trick, but the light kept flickering every now and then. On Thursday morning I finally did some research, and everything I found said “STOP DRIVING IMMEDIATELY AND GET THE CAR SERVICED.” Turns out it’s an oil *pressure *light, not an oil *level *light. :smack:

I took it to a shop I trust, and left it with them*. They were hopeful the problem would just be the sensor, but on Saturday morning the guy called with the bad news: parts need to be replaced, and just getting to those parts is challenging (and could require replacing some of the parts that are in the way). He figures they’ll need to keep my car for this whole week, and estimated a $3500 repair bill (:(). He said I was in a “repair or immediately replace” situation, because – of course – if oil isn’t getting to the engine properly it could seize at any moment. I green-lit the repair, because despite the wallet ouchie it seems like a no-brainer ($3500 is cheaper than getting something else; plus, I *love *my car [a 2010 Nissan 370Z with ~67K miles]).

My question, though, is related to the hypothetical of if I’d chosen to replace it: how does one sell a car that runs and isn’t a heap but shouldn’t be driven? Would I likely wind up having to give it away for parts? Or maybe ask for a nominal amount from someone who is willing to pay for the repair? Has anyone had to get rid of a car like that?
*Walking into an Enterprise car rental place with no reservation is fun. My only options were a van (NOPE) or a Kia Soul…so, for the time being I’m Party Rock-ing it hamster style.

I’ve seen cars on craigslist advertised that they were not running with a description of the problem. I assume that someone who is a handy mechanic would consider buying it if they were familiar with that kind of repair. They would need to come over with a trailer and tow it away.

Another way is to call a junkyard. Many of them will come out and tow it, but you may only get a few hundred dollars.

With a 370Z, I would guess there are lots of people who would want the car to customize and would consider the repair just part of the work they would be doing on the car.

A quick check shows similar cars selling for $15k to $20k, so you’re well above “giving away for parts” or only getting a “nominal amount.” Figure that the buyer is going to want to get a discount for the repair, plus a discount for the considerable risk that there is something else wrong with the car that is being masked by the fact that it can’t be driven. WAG is that you could have sold it for $5k-$10k on Craigslist or FB marketplace, but you’re hitting a small market and would likely be in for a real treat of flakes and tire-kickers.

Wholesale auctions regularly deal in cars that don’t run or need reconditioning, even small corner lots can often afford to front the cash on a gamble like this. So if you didn’t want to sell it yourself you could also try to find a lot that would be willing to flip it to an auction house. is a major auction house dealing in wrecked cars, they would also likely buy it and there’s a form on their website.

But you made the right call in fixing it. You’ll ALWAYS get more money selling a running car that you’ve just paid to have fixed than a non-running car. Plus once a car is fixed people usually realize that it’s not that bad and just keep it.

Great car, BTW.

You’ll always find people who will buy those cars because they can do all the work themselves, which makes it much cheaper for them to restore the car.

yeah just say you’re selling it for a restoration project and/or parts …

I’ve seen people sell their old car like a pick a parts yard … they made more money selling the working parts separately than they would of the whole car

even sold the doors and seats …had a recycler pretty much pick up the frame and unsold parts … and still got about 150 out of it …

67K miles is awfully low to having major engine problems like this. I’d complain to your Nissan dealer, and see if they will do something for you.

What did the repair guy say the problem was? Worn crankshaft bearings?

Man, watching “my” car get towed away would almost definitely make me cry… :frowning:

But then, it wouldn’t even be at my house, right? I imagine I’d work out a deal with the shop where I pay some kind of storage fee until someone takes it…?

For a *driveable *car, yes. :slight_smile: I was imagining that the value of any vehicle would plummet to pretty much $0 if it needs to be towed away.

Thanks. :cool:

Like I said, the “fix or replace” decision was an easy one for me. Honestly, I can’t imagine driving anything else right now. I :heart: my Z, and have no idea what I’d even want as a replacement. (Part of my brain says “a new Z, duh” but this car has cost me some serious repair money over the years…I’d need to think twice…) I’m hoping to drive it for at least another 20K miles.

Ooooh, good point! I forgot about those people. :smiley:

I bought it used, in 2013, from an Audi dealership’s used car lot (with only 16K miles on it). And I don’t trust/like the local Nissan dealership. But don’t get me started about “too soon for major problems”: I’ve also had to replace the entire clutch assembly. Nissan did *not *bother to put these cars together very well (and doesn’t care at all about known issues), hence the hesitation about simply getting another 370Z if a replacement were needed.

I honestly don’t remember. Everything he said/explained made sense at the time, but I don’t know enough about cars to remember exactly what’s wrong. Plus, I was slightly distracted by trying to get a large custom sheet cake into my rental car while I was talking with him. :slight_smile: He also wasn’t 100% sure he was right, because they needed to start disassembling stuff to be sure and he wanted to talk with me first. He said he was fairly certain he knew what the problem was, though. I’m expecting an update on Wednesday.

A decent junkyard engine for that car is around $1,300 locally with a 90-day warranty according to I know a guy who could drop it in over a weekend for less than a grand. I’m guessing professional installation from an independent shop might run $1,500 to $2,000. Basically, you can fix this car for roughly $3,000. So, assuming it’s worth $15,000 in good shape, it would be worth maybe $8-9,000 to me, which gives me plenty of margin to deal with the hassle of transporting it, sourcing an engine, arranging for the engine swap, accepting the risk that I’ll discover other problems with it, and dealing with a car that’s worth less because the engine was replaced.

I will admit that $15,000 sounds like a lot to me for an 8-year-old 370Z from a private party. I was looking at brand new ones last year for $27,000 and I saw a used one (2009 I think) from a private party with Akebono brakes, no accidents, and about 70,000 miles go for under $10,000 last year. That one sold fast though so it probably wasn’t indicative of the market.

The clutches on those were seemingly made of papier-mache and replacing the it in the first 60,000 miles isn’t unusual.

You’ve obviously never owned a Nissan or Infiniti!:joy::joy::joy:

I got a great deal on an 03 G35 but I lived in constant dread of a catastrophic failure. That coupled with the painful bucket seats caused me to sell it and switch back to Toyota.

Probably not a good option in this case, but I donated an old car to my local NPR station, and they picked it up with a flatbed tow truck even though it was driveable.

We had to do this last year, stepdaughter forgot to put oil in car and blew the engine.

The add started with “DOES NOT RUN, NEEDS NEW ENGINE”

This is how the typical conversation went with the people that actually came out to see it:
Buyer: “Looks pretty decent, can I drive it?”

Us: “Uhh, as the add states, it does not run, the engine is shot, it needs a new engine”

Buyer: “Hmmm”

Should’ve gone for the van. :smiley:

Didn’t you trade in a perfectly good Honda Accord coupe for this kitted out Datsun? :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

Just put in a regular ad, describe the car honestly, and say, “needs extensive engine work, possibly rebuild or replace.” Set the price at 50% what you think a you could ask for if it ran. See what happens.

How did that work?

As a rule, engines have oil in them - driver does not routinely need to add any.

It may be worth noting that sensing oil level is tricky, especially when the engine is running. So pretty much any oil warning light that appears when a vehicle is in motion is complaining about pressure.

Some cars consume enough oil so that they can end up dangerously low before the next oil change. Some owner’s manuals will tell you that a consumption rate of 1 quart per thousand miles is considered acceptable; on a car that’s burning that much oil, if you don’t add some every time you stop for gas, you might be risking oil starvation before the next change.

I’m not aware of any cars that sense/report oil level, but my motorcycle (a BMW) does; it’s a text display message that says “oil OK” or “oil low” (or words to that effect), and is separate from the glaring red low oil pressure warning lamp. It only reports while the bike is at a idling at 0 MPH.

BMW and Porsche have had oil level sensors for years. I’m not even sure if they have dipsticks anymore. You do the oil check on a Porsche with the ignition on but the engine not running. I assume it’s similar for the BMWs. Mazda RX-8s have oil level sensors too but it just triggers a dummy light at startup. RX8s consume a lot of oil in routine operation so this is a worthwhile precaution for those cars.

I just checked Kelley Blue Book online, and their estimate of my car’s private party value is $14,023. Location might have something to do with it…? Plus I have a 40th anniversary edition, so that could affect its general value.

Indeed: replacing the entire clutch assembly at ~30K miles ( :mad: ) was my first major repair on this car.


Perhaps. :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue:

I had one of those before the Accord. I had to get rid of it after less than three years, because of random stalling issues (in gear, at speed) that Mazda couldn’t replicate and therefore wouldn’t do anything about. That car ate oil and got crappy mileage, but I loved it. The Honda was an overcorrection: the minute I drove it off the lot, I knew I wanted another sports (or at least sporty) car. Just had to wait until I wasn’t upside-down on the loan. :slight_smile:

OP said this:

As I read it, he’s saying that he drove the car with the oil level low enough to cause oil starvation (and consequent damage) because he misunderstood the meaning of the “oil light.” In other words, the cause of the damage was operator error, not a pre-existing flaw in the engine.

Misnomer, am I understanding your OP correctly?