Keys and mirrors and hubcaps, oh my! What to do when your car is missing important parts

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8 min read

Similar to our bodies, cars function differently over time. While it’s safe to assume your foot won’t fall off in a couple years, cosmetic or functional components of your car actually can. When this happens, do you immediately replace what broke, or strategize a way around it? Let’s say you decide to replace and wind up spending more money than you planned––does that purchase positively affect your car’s resale value, or not at all?

Ahead, we take a look at 11 car parts and answer four questions that may come up during the process. If one of your questions is, “Can I sell my car with missing parts?” don’t worry, we answer that too.

hubcaps

  • Is it safe to drive without? Yes.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes.
  • How expensive is it to replace? Starts at $25; higher-end starts at $100.
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? No, exterior issues like dings and dents will have a greater impact on resale value.

tire pressure valve stem caps

  • Can I drive without one? The valve stem cap acts as a cover to the tire valve and keeps debris like road salt, water, and dirt from the tire. With no cap, your tire will potentially leak air. It’s not an emergency to replace, but you should replace sooner than later.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes
  • How expensive is it to replace? < $1
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? Maybe. if you leave the cap off for too long, you could wind up trying to resell a car with leaky tires. The cover itself won’t affect resale value, but leaky (or even worse, flat) definitely will.

antennas

  • Is it safe to drive without? Yes. The car antenna is on your car so that you can pick up radio stations or GPS signals in newer models with fin antennas.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes.
  • How expensive is it to replace? The median price is $150.
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? No, but keep in mind that no antenna means your car lacks features that a potential buyer could find essential.

sun visors

  • Is it safe to drive without? No. Since the sun visor protects your eyes from high beam lights, sunlight, and other intense rays, not having one can pose a serious safety problem.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes.
  • How expensive is it to replace? $50–$150, depending on your car’s make and model.
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? No.

keys

  • Is it safe to drive without? No, unless you’re missing your only pair of keys. That could be an issue.
  • Is it easy to replace? For the most part. However, some car keys have to be custom made from the dealership and cannot be replaced quickly by a locksmith or with help from your car’s instruction manual.
  • How expensive is it to replace? Car keys can be expensive depending on the make of your car. The average price range is between $75–$500. (Remember, any repairs you don’t make yourself you pay for both the part and the service.)
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? Yes. If you resell your car with one car key instead of two, or went along the DIY key replacement route, this could seriously affect the value of the car to a buyer.

rearview mirror

  • Is it safe to drive without? No. While it’s not illegal to drive without a rearview mirror (though it is if your side mirrors are also missing), the lack of a rearview mirror can be a huge problem, especially if your car is bigger.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes.
  • How expensive is it to replace? $140–$330 at a repair shop. (Remember, any repairs you don’t make yourself you pay for both the part and the service.)
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? No.

spare tires

  • Is it safe to drive without? It depends. If you’re located in an urban area, or an area with 24-hour towing, not having a spare tire can be OK. But, if you’re in a rural area with the chance of no one being able to help you if you get a flat, a spare tire is imperative.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes.
  • How expensive is it to replace? $50–$300
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? No.

lug nuts

  • Is it safe to drive without? No. A missing lug nut puts extra pressure on the wheel and can cause other lug nuts to fall off. Get your car to a shop or hit up your trusty mechanic, stat!
  • Is it easy to replace? Somewhat, but be careful––if you’re replacing the lugnuts instead of a mechanic, take the lugnuts off one at a time.
  • How expensive is it to replace? $90–$120. (Remember, any repairs you don’t make yourself you pay for both the part and the service.)
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? Yes. Missing lug nuts can cause irreparable damage to your car. If you don’t have one (or some) on when you look to resell, you’re setting the car––and person potentially getting behind it––up for failure.

catalytic converters

  • Is it safe to drive without? Yes. Your car won’t be filtering out bad-for-the-environment chemicals that add to air pollution, but lacking a catalytic converter will have no effect on the car itself, though there will be changes to the exhaust sound. It’s important to note that toying with the catalytic converter is illegal, especially in states with strict laws around vehicle emissions.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes. It takes about an hour to replace.
  • How expensive is it to replace? Pretty expensive. The common price range to replace a catalytic converter is $945–$2475. (Remember, any repairs you don’t make yourself you pay for both the part and the service.)
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? Yes. While the catalytic converter doesn’t specifically affect the car, it affects the environment and air you’re driving your car in (not to mention breathing!).

door handles

  • Is it safe to drive without? No. Not having car handles will not only pose a huge inconvenience on you when trying to open and close the car door, but it could also increase problems in the case of an emergency.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes.
  • How expensive is it to replace? Keep in mind that interior and exterior door handles have different prices. Both types of handles range between $80–$500. (Remember, any repairs you don’t make yourself you pay for both the part and the service.)
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? Yes. Imagine a potential buyer trying to get into your car…but literally can’t!

windows

  • Is it safe to drive without? No. Similar to car handles, windows are an emergency exit in case of an accident. Regardless of the situation, no windows is a no-no.
  • Is it easy to replace? Yes––if you’re experienced with working on cars.
  • How expensive is it to replace? $150–$400. (Remember, any repairs you don’t make yourself you pay for both the part and the service.)
  • Does this majorly affect my car’s resale value? Yes. Potential buyers want the ability to roll down and roll up their windows.

If reading through this list has made you realize how many cosmetic or functional components of your car are missing, “Should I junk or sell my car?” may be a remaining question. If you decide to part ways with your car, Peddle would be happy to take it––missing any (or all!) of the components above. No car is too damaged, broken, or used for us.