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Click and Clack: Sell Camry for parts? Don’t bother

SHARE Click and Clack: Sell Camry for parts? Don’t bother

Question — I'd like your advice on whether I'd make more money selling my '90 Camry All-Trac outright or by parting it out? The car has 160,000 miles and will soon need a new transmission, valve job, struts and who knows what else? My nephew, who is an auto mechanic, is willing to help me part it out. If I sold it privately, I think I'd get $4,000 to $5,000. Would I do better by parting it out? I'd have to rent a garage in the metro area, plus pay for ads in the paper. I'm a housewife with more time than money. — Deborah

RAY: Deborah — and we mean this in the nicest possible way — you're nuts. Parting it out is a terrible idea.

TOM: To give you an idea of the economics of it, when a junkyard owner takes in a car that still runs, he sells it outright. It's only when a car doesn't run that he takes it apart and sells the individual components.

RAY: And they can stay in business because they have lots of parts for lots of different types of cars. You'd be essentially opening a junkyard with one car. Not a great business plan.

TOM: Right. Can you see some guy walking in and saying, "Do you have a fan motor for an '85 Caprice?" "No," you say, "but I have a seat belt for a '90 Camry All-Trac. You want that?"

RAY: Plus, running all those ads is going to croak you. Even if you get lucky and find three or four people who need parts for a '90 Camry All-Trac on the first try, that's only three or four parts you're going to sell. It's going to take you the rest of your life to sell off the entire car one part at a time.

TOM: So, I'd just sell it "as is" and let the

next owner fix it. Or, if your nephew is willing, let him do the repairs and then sell it for a little more.

RAY: But if you try to part this car out yourself, you'll not only be a housewife with more time than money, but you'll also be a housewife with more unsold car parts than money. Trust us, Deborah. Don't do it.

Question — I drive a 1991 Toyota Camry. I've gone to Midas, and I've gotten a muffler with a lifetime warranty. However, I've had to have the muffler replaced just about every 12 months. The muffler has gotten so loud every spring for the past four years that I have had no choice but to have it replaced. The guys at Midas have been more than happy to replace my muffler every year at no cost. Is it normal to have a muffler replaced every year? Are the guys at Midas secretly regretting giving me a lifetime warranty? — AJ

RAY: Au contraire, AJ. They're thrilled to see you. First of all, those mufflers they put in only cost them about eight bucks. And every time you come in, they have a chance to sell you another part of the exhaust system or some brake pads or shocks — especially if you feel guilty about taking so many free mufflers from them! So, don't worry about the poor guys at Midas. They'd put cardboard mufflers in if it would get you to come back more often.

TOM: I'd like to note here, for the sake of Midas' lawyers, that my brother is just making a little joke there, guys. We know you don't make mufflers out of cardboard.

RAY: Not yet! Anyway, to answer your question, AJ, it's not normal for a muffler to last only a year. And there are generally two factors that lead to premature muffler failure.

TOM: One is the way you drive. If you only take short trips and never let the exhaust system heat up enough, it won't vaporize the water that naturally comes out of the engine. And that water is going to have a corrosive effect on the exhaust system.

RAY: But the other factor, which I'll bet is much more of a factor in your case, is the quality (or lack of quality) of the muffler. In my opinion, none of the aftermarket mufflers are as good as the original equipment (OEM) stuff you buy from the dealer. The OEM mufflers fit better, sound better and last longer, in my experience. But they're more expensive, and many of them don't come with a lifetime warranty. So many of my customers go for the aftermarket stuff.

TOM: And like you, AJ, some of them end up going back for a new, free muffler every year or so. And — in a lot of cases — end up with some not-so-free connecting pipes or shocks to go with it.

The Magliozzi brothers' radio show, "Car Talk," can be heard Saturdays at 10 a.m. and Sundays at noon on KUER FM 90.1, and on KCPW 88.3/105.1 FM Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m. If you have a question about cars, write to Click and Clack Talk Cars c/o King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017. You can e-mail them by visiting their Web site at (http://cartalk.msn.com).