#value of cars
Do’s and don’ts of getting rid of your old car
I have only ever owned two cars, and a thief relieved me of the last one. So when it came to saying goodbye to my defunct 13-year-old Alfa estate, lying abandoned with a dead battery outside my house since November, I realised I had no idea how to actually get rid of a vehicle. Could I sell it? Scrap it? Give it away?
Every year in Britain between six and seven million used cars are sold, and two million are scrapped. The EU has introduced strict environmental rules on how cars should be disposed of through its End of Life Vehicle Directive, while new rules designed to combat copper and other metal theft have had the curious impact of making it illegal for car owners to be paid cash when scrapping a vehicle.
So what is the best way to rid yourself of an ageing car? Where can you obtain the best price? And how can you be sure the buyer isn’t some rogue who will take your car, yet leave you still liable for potential speeding tickets and fines?
Autotrader.co.uk is probably the best place to start (full disclosure: The Guardian Media Group has a 50% share in the company, although it last month announced it was selling this). You can enter your car registration and mileage for free, then it finds the vehicle and gives an immediate suggested selling price. Advertising on the site costs from 9.99 to 19.99. In my case it said the car was worth around 600. But what the computer didn’t know was that the MOT and tax was due to run out in three days’ time, there was no proper service history, and I was pretty sure it would fail the MOT – and, with a corroded battery, even jump-starting looked out of the question.
Trading in an old car when buying a new one is seen as bad value. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA
Gumtree is another option. Its chief advantage is that advertising is free (although it will encourage you to pay for premium services) and clearly the site has lots of old bangers like mine for sale. But again, with just days to go before I risked being clamped for failing to have a tax disc, I decided against.
How about Webuyanycar.com. It offered 285, but it prefers you have an MOT lasting at least one month and two sets of keys – both fails for my Alfa. Plus (something of a problem) I’d have to drive it to a local centre. and they’re not keen on non-runners in any case.
Trading in your old car when buying a new one is discouraged as bad value by many motoring experts. Back in November I bought a new car, and at that point thought it might be useful to keep the Alfa as a second vehicle, given it was still taxed and insured for a few months. But those months slip away, and I realise now that had I traded it in then (for around 400) I would have saved a lot of hassle.
The good news is that the days when drivers had to trawl round dodgy car breaking yards are over. Now just pop scrap my car into Google and up comes dozens of companies that promise to collect your car within days – and pay you as well.
But are these safe? The first one I emailed gave me an instant quote of 120 – and rang almost immediately, saying they’d pop round in an hour. And this was a Sunday afternoon. It’s the sort of offer that rings alarm bells; were they a registered scrap dealer? (he mumbled something about a certificate coming soon); would he pay cash? (should be able to – which later I realised is a no-no); and would it definitely be scrapped? (er, he might sell it abroad). At this point I realised more research was necessary.
Rules introduced in 2005 make it a legal requirement that any car sent to be scrapped must go to an Authorised Treatment Facility. All car scrapyards must have a licence issued by the Environment Agency or Scottish Environment Protection Agency to ensure that scrapped vehicles don’t harm the environment (all that battery acid, gearbox oil and engine parts) and that they are recycled appropriately.
All the car scrapping sites that came up on my Google search allowed me to enter my car registration and came back with quotes for how much they’d pay me. The range was between 150- 200 if I took the car to the yard, or 50 or so less if I wanted it collected from home.
You must tell the DVLA if you send your vehicle to scrap. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA
Which sites should you trust? Under the EU directive, the car manufacturers are ultimately responsible for ensuring vehicles are recycled properly, and that cars can be disposed of for free.
Many have linked up with either cartakeback.com or rewardingrecycling.co.uk. which says it has handled the destruction of 1.25m cars. Ford in the UK says cartakeback.com is its recycling partner, while Toyota is linked to rewardingrecycling.co.uk, although both sites deal with virtually all brands of car.
They don’t scrap the car themselves but get a local recycling centre to contact you. In my case, both offered around 150 for home collection.
What happens next? Dig out your V5 ownership document, follow the instructions and send the relevant part to the DVLA, which should confirm to you that you’re no longer responsible for the car. The scrap dealer should send you a Certificate of Destruction, and should also tell the DVLA you don’t own the car anymore.
If the dealer says they’ll pay you in cash it’s a sure sign they are dodgy. Under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, introduced last October to combat metal theft, particularly copper from railway lines, it is illegal for anyone to pay cash for scrap cars. Most will issue a cheque or make a payment directly into your bank account. When selling, you have to give proof of identification, such as your driving licence or passport.
Remember to claw back any road tax or insurance you have on the vehicle. You can reclaim any unused complete months of road tax from the DVLA by downloading form V14 and returning it along with your tax disc to the DVLA.
Giving it away
There are a number of organisations that will take your clapped-out car and donate the money to charity. The leading one is giveacar.co.uk. while cartakeback.com operates charitycar.co.uk. Oxfam runs a donation service at oxfam.org.uk. which since 2006 has raised 100,000-plus through the sale of more than 350 cars.