Junkyard – Definition, Types, & What They Do

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    Junkyards are a location where scrap metal, from vehicles, large appliances, and other items, are sold. These yards purchase scrap to resell it to other consumers or to recycling facilities by weight, who will shred the metal and separate it by value. There are various types of junkyards, also referred to as wrecking yards, auto salvage yards, car dismantlers, and car recyclers.

    These yards will dismantle junk cars for parts, store the inventory, and sell these components to local mechanics and the general public. Some junkyards sell parts via the Internet as well, utilizing websites such as eBay to reach buyers across the world. Junkyards are important for the recycling and disposal process of cars, boats, and RVs. After salvaging usable parts, the yards can save the community thousands of dollars by selling used parts at a fraction of the cost compared to OEM parts from the dealership.

    Junkyards help to keep vehicles on the road for years to come. When repair expenses begin to rise, some drivers head to the junkyard to purchase salvaged parts to keep their ride drivable. This lowers the need for part production, which is an expensive industry that adds carbon to the environment. Many consumers rely on junkyards as an affordable option when repairing their vehicles.

    What is a Junkyard?

    A junkyard is a place that buys and sells junk cars, as well as other junk appliances and scrap metal. There are many names for a junkyard, such as wrecking yards, salvage yards, dismantlers, breaker yards, and scrap heaps. All of these names are synonymous with a place that dismantles wrecked and otherwise non-operational vehicles and salvages usable parts and components for resale. Depending on the locale, different names will be used. For instance, a junkyard is a common term in the United States while Canada prefers a wrecking yard. In the UK, the popular name is a scrap yard.

    Junkyards make a profit by selling salvageable parts, such as engines, light housings, side-view mirrors, and so on. These parts can be purchased and used on other vehicles of the same make and model. This cuts down on costs for drivers who don't want to spend hundreds, if not thousands, on brand-new parts for their vehicles. Some junkyards opt to provide additional services such as the installation of parts, though many just sell them.

    What Can Be Found in a Junkyard?

    Despite popular understanding, junkyards aren't only for junk cars. They take all types of junk appliances and vehicles — including boats, RVs, buses, washing and drying machines, and other household appliances. The public is often welcome at local junkyards. They can find salvage parts for their vehicles or entire appliances such as a refrigerator.

    Junkyards sell both vehicles and scrap parts, which enables them to diversify and expand their profits. Depending on the vehicle, they may keep it whole and try to sell it as-is. Other times, the vehicle is only worth the sum of its parts and the yard will remove the transmission, GPS and audio system, engine, mufflers, and even windshields. Depending on what parts are in high demand, which is dependent upon location and the make and model of the vehicle, the junkyard will sell parts accordingly.

    What Are the Different Names of Junkyards?

    Depending on the location, a junkyard can go by one of several names. In Canada and Australia, wrecking yards are the common reference to a junkyard. In the UK, wrecking yards or scrap yards reign supreme. Junkyard is mainly used in the United States. At the end of the day, all of these names refer to the same basic business model — to buy and resell vehicles that have been wrecked, totaled, or otherwise decommissioned and to salvage valuable parts and components that can be flipped for profit.

    Junkyards A yard that purchases vehicles with salvageable parts that can then be resold. Junkyards also take other appliances and large equipment, as well as boats.
    Auto Salvage Yards A yard that specializes in the automotive aspect of the junk industry, including cars, buses, and RVs. Auto salvage yards buy and resell vehicles, including components that have been removed and resold individually.
    Wrecking Yards A location that specializes in dismantling wrecked or otherwise inoperable vehicles to resell for parts. Similar to both junkyards and auto salvage yards; just a different name — more common in Canada and Australia. Read more about what is a wrecking yard.
    Car Dismantlers A business that focuses on dismantling old and decommissioned vehicles in order to sell functional parts for profit. Same business model as junkyards, auto salvage yards, and wrecking yards.
    Car Recyclers Car recyclers dismantle vehicles for valuable spare parts. There is less focus on salvaging all usable parts of a vehicle and more on recycling the vehicle by getting it ready for being crushed, shredded, and melted down.

    What is the Purpose of a Junkyard?

    Junkyards not only serve as blue-collar employers in many communities but they also benefit the public at large as well as the environment. From a business standpoint, junkyards serve the purpose of buying and selling junk cars and their various parts and components. These items may include engines, transmissions, alternators, tires, airbags, and audio systems. Some junkyards may sell junk cars whole, for those who are seeking a project car. Most junkyards strip these scrap cars for parts and sell the individual pieces to interested parties.

    Junkyards are a location where wrecked and totaled vehicles can be taken. Many neighborhoods have rules against inoperable cars sitting in the driveway or on the street, visible to the public. From the junkyard, usable parts can be resold at steep discounts. The public and mechanics can purchase individual parts to repair a vehicle for a cheaper cost when compared to brand-new OEM parts.

    Environmentally, junkyards help to reduce the carbon footprint of the automotive industry as a whole. They provide less demand for part manufacturing, which is expensive and energy-intensive.

    How Does a Junkyard Operate?

    There are many daily operations that a junkyard must successfully run to stay in business. It costs nearly $40,000 to start a junkyard and these costs can quickly add up over time if the business doesn't become profitable quickly. Junkyards may opt to invest in marketing, to encourage the local public to sell vehicles to the yard. Without enough public interest and business, including the buying and selling of vehicles and used parts, a junkyard is at risk of going out of business.

    Junkyards don't just recycle and resell vehicles and components, they're also responsible for disposing of hazardous liquids such as Freon, engine oil, brake fluid, and fuel. These liquids can't simply be dumped, as this is harmful to the soil and the water sources nearby. Junkyards safely dispose of these hazards, as well as dead batteries that must be responsibly recycled.

    Once a junkyard salvages any usable parts on a junk car, they sell the remaining metal frame to a recycler where it can be shredded and sorted using magnets. The junkyard can sell the frame based on weight, giving them additional profit from the same vehicle that they salvaged and resold parts from.

    Are Junkyards Open on Sundays?

    Are Junkyards Open on Sundays?

    Most junkyards are closed on Sundays. However, it is possible to find a junkyard that is open on Sundays, though it may be more difficult to do so. If you are looking to sell your junk car on a Sunday, you may need to search for a junkyard that is open on that day or consider alternative options, such as selling your car to a private buyer or dealership. Keep in mind that junkyards may have different operating hours and policies, so it is best to check with the specific junkyard you are interested in before visiting.

    Junk Car Medics is a nationwide junkyard that allows customers to get offers for junk acrs 7 days a week. If they are unable to provide junk car removal services on Sundays in your city, they will try to schedule the removal on the next business day. Junk Car Medics will buy any make or model of car and do not require the keys or title, as long as you have a copy of your license and vehicle registration.

    Do They Sell Car Parts at the Junkyard?

    Yes, junkyards sell car parts to the public as well as to specialized buyers such as mechanics. This is one of the main aspects of a junkyard's business and by removing or salvaging used car parts, the yard can pay better prices for cars. Once a vehicle has been scrapped for all of its valuable parts, the junkyard can then crush the frame and sell it to a recycler — such as a scrap yard that then breaks the metal down further and sorts it out.

    Used car parts often sell for 20%-80% less than new parts at the junkyard. This enables drivers to keep their vehicles on the road for a longer period, due to cheaper replacement parts. Mechanics can refurbish a junkyard car part and use it as a replacement for a vehicle in their shop.

    Do Junkyards Purchase Junk Car Parts?

    Yes, junkyards will purchase junk car parts. Junkyards usually purchase junk cars and then salvage usable parts. In some instances, they will be interested in purchasing used parts individually — such as engines, transmissions, and potentially catalytic converters in good condition. These junk car parts must be in working order, apart from the converter which can be scrapped for metal instead of resold to be used as a replacement part.

    Do Junkyards Purchase Junk Cars?

    Yes, junkyards purchase junk cars. This is the number one priority of a junkyard's business model. Without junk cars, there would be no junk car parts and no scrap metal to sell to a recycler. Junkyards purchase junk cars from the public once a vehicle has reached its end of life. This can be due to a wreck or simply as a vehicle gets old and begins to break down and become unreliable and too expensive to repair.

    Junkyards provide offers for junk cars based on the make, model, year, and condition of the car. Junk cars that are damaged on the exterior but have valuable interior working components are worth a fair price to a junkyard, as they can remove the parts and resell them. Read more about what is a junk car.

    How Much Do Junkyards Pay for Cars?

    The average price for a junk car varies between $100 and $500, depending on the make, model, year, and condition of the vehicle. Junkyards will pay more for high-demand vehicles with internal parts that are in good resale condition. Junkyards pay in cash and provide towing services once they've purchased the vehicle.

    A 2010 Toyota Corolla can bring in $1150+ when junked, as the make and model are in high demand. Toyotas are notoriously reliable and inexpensive to fix, which may enable the junkyard to sell the car whole or parted out for the engine, transmission, and various replacement parts for other Corollas. In comparison, a 2012 Nissan Altima may bring in $667. This is still higher than average, which indicates that the make and model have relatively good demand.  How much do junkyards pay for cars? The answer varies by the car.

    Junkyards may offer less per junk car if they have low-profit margins and high overhead. Other yards, with healthier margins and less overhead, will be able to provide fairer quotes to sellers. Comparing quotes is recommended to receive the best price for a junk car. Junk Car Medics provides the best prices for junk cars and makes it easy to sell a vehicle in a hassle-free manner.

    How Profitable is a Junkyard?

    The profit margins of a particular junkyard depend on where its located. Profit margins can range from 20% to 70%. Locations near city centers with millions of people do better than those in a more rural area. They have more access to a customer base and locals will be more likely to sell their old cars to the closest junkyard. Junkyards try to keep their overhead low, so they can offer fair quotes and make larger profits each month.

    Junkyards that have successful advertising and marketing strategies are more likely to bring in more cash each month. The more familiar the residents are with their brand, the stronger the trust within the community is. The type of junk that a yard deals in is important as well, such as what types of vehicles they buy and whether they specialize in a specific make and model that's in demand.

    Profit for a brand-new yard with a single employee (the owner) may be as low as $1,000. Some yards may not make much profit at all as they begin to build their business. Other national junkyards can make tens of thousands of dollars each month. Large junkyards often have higher storage costs, such as more land and larger warehouses.

    Are Junkyards Good for Business?

    Yes, junkyards can be good for business. Depending on what type of property the junkyard is located on and how much it costs to upkeep the land, buildings, and storage units each month — junkyards can make a healthy profit. Many junkyards don't have many employees, which decreases the cost of salaries, insurance, and other benefits that employers offer.

    Junkyards are location-dependent as many people won't drive long distances to reach a yard unless they have a rare part. Junkyards should be built in proximity to a populous town or city to garner enough business to stay profitable.

    What Tools Do Junkyards Use?

    Junkyards rely on a wide range of tools to operate daily. Not all tools are heavy machinery, as employees often get their hands dirty by removing salvageable parts. A solid-built junk car tool kit can go a long way in a junkyard, though it's not a replacement for the massive car-crushing machines that flatten vehicle frames once they've been parted out.


    Inside a toolbox, there are various handheld tools that can help employees to dismantle a vehicle. Many of these tools are used by mechanics to unscrew, loosen, and otherwise remove parts from under the hood and within the interior cabin. Doors, taillights, and tires can be removed using basic tools.

    Machine Saws

    These heavy-duty saws are necessary when employees need to cut through thick pieces of metal. This can be the case when workers are trying to gain access to more valuable pieces that have a higher resale value.

    Fork Trucks

    Fork trucks have two large tongs in front, which go under heavy objects to move and load them to other areas of the junkyard. This can include large appliances and heavy car pieces, such as engines and transmissions.

    Roll-Off Trailers

    Roll-off trailers are another option that junkyards have when they need to move heavy objects around the junkyard, such as into the warehouse for storage and inventory purposes.

    Wire Strippers

    This tool is helpful when taking off the insulation around copper wires, which allows access to the valuable copper. Junkyards keep a range of sizes, as different cables within a vehicle have different insulation.


    Balers are used to crush metal and cut it into predetermined sizes. Then, the metal is turned into a bale of metal which is then transportable to other locations.


    Handlers can use magnets to sort metals into piles, such as ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Handlers will also use shears to split large chunks of metal apart, making them easier to process and recycle.

    Is Car Crusher Most Important Machine In a Wrecking Yard?

    Car crushers are one of the most important machines in a junkyard or wrecking yard. This powerful piece of machinery allows the yard to reduce bulky junk cars down into flattened slabs. This makes it easier to transport scrap cars via truck or train to a recycling facility. At a recycling facility or a scrap yard, the crushed vehicles can be put through the metal shredder, which breaks the metal down further and sorts it into separate piles depending on whether it's iron-based or not.

    These machines help to boost the profits of the wrecking yard. There is no other way to efficiently break down a junk car. With a crusher, yards can process several vehicles at the same time, which allows the junkyard to make better offers on junk cars without harming their margins.

    A car crusher can be either portable or stationary. Many of the older models of car crushers are stationary, which is suitable for many wrecking yards since they don't need to move from their location. These days, some junkyards seek to save money by splitting the costs of one car crusher between several yards. These portable crushers can be traded off during the month, providing everybody a turn to use them.

    Car crushers can flatten a vehicle's frame once it has been stripped of valuable parts, such as engines, transmissions, and other components that the junkyard will sell to mechanics and the public for a discounted rate. Crushers can also crush items such as large appliances like fridges, dishwashers, and washing machines.

    What Kind of Vehicles Are Junked In Junkyards?

    There are many types of vehicles that get sold to junkyards every year. Some will be in poor condition after being totaled by insurance and undrivable due to a wreck. Others may look in decent exterior condition but they have many mechanical issues that made the vehicle no longer suitable to repair and continue driving.

    Depending on the wrecking yard, there may be several conditions that a vehicle must meet before it is purchased. Many junkyards rely on being able to salvage usable parts to resell to increase profits. If the vehicle is completely wrecked and has poor components such as a faulty engine or a busted transmission, the junkyard may be uninterested in purchasing it. If they do, it will be for a decreased cost compared to a junk vehicle that has several thousand dollars worth of resalable parts.

    How Many Junkyards Exist in the US?

    There are more than 8,200 auto salvage businesses in the US according to Popular Mechanics. This number has grown over recent years, indicating the success that many junkyards have with their business model of paying cash for junk cars and selling discounted used parts to the public. The auto salvage industry in the US brings in 22 billion dollars each year, which is an impressive sum considering many yards only have a few employees.

    Junkyards are an employer for over 46,000 people within the United States. This number is spread across all 50 states, equating to hundreds of jobs per state. States with larger population numbers, such as California, Florida, New York, and Texas, have an increased need for salvage yards. More people often equate to more vehicles on the road, therefore more vehicles become junk each year.

    What Are the Biggest Junkyards in the USA?

    There are many local junkyards across America and the world. Some of the biggest names in the game stand out by boasting thousands of vehicles in their inventory and thousands more parts for projects and vintage cars waiting to be restored.

    1. French Lake Auto Parts

    This junkyard is located 60 miles west of Minneapolis and has been in business for over 100 years. With 100+ acres of property, the yard has over 10,000 vehicles on any given day. These vehicles may be suitable for restoration projects, as well as scrap metal recycling and salvageable parts.

    2. CTC Auto Ranch

    This salvage yard is located in Denton, Texas, which is an hour north of Dallas. The yard specializes in muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s. The dry climate featured in the Dallas area means that many of the vehicles are rust-free, making them ideal for restoration projects. The yard has over 4,000 vehicles and the inventory changes consistently.

    3. Wildcat Auto Wrecking

    The junkyard in Oregon focuses on Chrysler vehicles, with over 800 vehicles in active inventory. Many of the bodies are from the 1950s through the 1970s, with many more parts in salvageable inventory. This yard sells parts from motors to glass and bumpers.

    4. Turners' Auto Wrecking

    This is a popular junkyard in California and it began in 1928, putting it in business for nearly a century now. There are over 100 acres of vintage and classic cars and parts, making it a great place for those in search of hard-to-find parts for their project cars.

    5. Old Car City USA

    This is one of the most famous junkyards in the world, boasting over 4,000 vehicles throughout 34 acres of land. There are several miles of trails on the property, allowing visitors to take the sights in and look at the many cars.

    What Are the Wrecking Yard Statistics?

    • Vehicles are the most recycled item in America
    • 86% of auto parts are recyclable
    • 27 million vehicles are recycled globally each year (12 million in the US)
    • 20% of junkyards have one employee — the owner
    • 86% of junkyards are classified as small businesses with fewer than 10 employees
    • $25 billion is generated by the auto industry annually
    • 46,000 people are employed within the US by auto recyclers

    What is the Cost of Car Wrecking in Junkyards?

    The cost of car wrecking varies depending on location, equipment used, costs of the land and upkeep, and the labor required to keep the junkyard operational. Many junkyards are classified as small businesses and have fewer than 10 employees. Quite a few junkyards only have one employee — the owner. Depending on what type of overhead the junkyard has, the offers they make on junk cars may be more or less than the competition.

    Sellers should always source several quotes before deciding on a final offer. This will provide a better idea of what the scrap car is worth. Several online resources allow sellers to calculate their car against the national junk car average, using the make, model, and year of the vehicle. High-demand vehicles are worth a heftier price as the parts are in higher demand.

    Why Do Junkyards Have a Warehouse?

    Junkyards have warehouses on the property to store scrap metal and other vehicle components. This allows the junkyard to grow an inventory of valuable parts before they're sold or recycled. Without a warehouse, these parts would have nowhere to go. Leaving sought-after parts open to the elements can result in rust and other damage that would drop the value.

    Warehouses boost the profits of a junkyard. Without this valuable storage space, junkyards aren't able to offer more for the junk cars they buy. Profitable junkyards have hundreds, if not thousands, of parts in their inventory that can be sold to various local and national buyers.

    What Makes a Good Junkyard?

    Good junkyards will have professional service, an organized lot, a warehouse for storage, and an online offering system for convenience. Many junkyards have an online presence in the form of a website. Their website should provide their hours of operation, their inventory, and an easy-to-use online quote system that enables sellers to receive a fair price estimate at any hour of the day.

    Junkyards that sell hundreds of parts a month often have an organized system for keeping updated inventory. This is generally a searchable online list that is sorted by the make, model, and year of the vehicle. Buyers from all over the nation can search through the inventory to see if their part is in stock and how much it costs.

    How to Choose the Best Junkyard?

    When seeking the best junkyard to sell a scrap car to, drivers should do their homework by reading reviews and asking for quotes. Most junkyards will have some type of online presence, in the form of a website or social media.

    Helpful questions to ask the junkyard to determine their professionalism include:

    • What are your business hours?
    • Do you work with a tow service to pick up junk cars?
    • What paperwork do you need to be filled out for the sale?
    • Do you require a title of ownership?
    • Do you pay with cash or check?

    Sellers should research what their make, model, and year are worth. This can avoid any swindling on the part of the junkyard by taking advantage of a clueless seller. Junkyards that have a warehouse on site can offer better prices for junk cars, as they have room to store the salvageable parts.

    Online junk car buyers such as Junk Car Medics have lower overheads, enabling them to offer better prices for junk cars. Junk Car Medics works with a wide range of junk car buyers, enabling sellers to find the best buyer for their scrap car. The online offering system is available 24/7 and sellers answer a few questions about their vehicle before receiving an offer.

    When choosing the best junkyard, drivers should keep in mind what purpose they're seeking to have fulfilled. If the main goal is to find a junkyard that will pay the most for their scrap car, this goal is met by receiving several quotes and comparing the offers. If the purpose is to find a junkyard with the best inventory system for used parts, the driver should compare websites to see what type of system the yard is using to collect inventory that's for sale.

    How to Find Replacement Auto Parts in a Junkyard?

    Depending on how a particular junkyard operates, the public may be able to find a searchable inventory list on their website. Some junkyards keep track of their inventory, while others use helpful services to do this task for them. If this information isn't readily available online, then consumers should call the yard and ask an employee if they can manually search for a specific part. Oftentimes, the junkyard workers will know what they have available or what junk cars have recently come in.

    Other junkyards have a "U-pull" system of business. This means that those looking for parts have to physically come to the yard with their tools. It can be tough to know how to find the best parts in a junkyard. They can search the cars on the lot and when they find the make and model that they're looking for, they can remove their parts. This saves junkyards time and money.

    Some junkyards specialize in particular makes. There are Honda junkyards, as well as Toyota and Ford specialty yards. The popularity of the model has a lot to do with whether there are junkyards that make it a point to collect parts for the brand. If there are large numbers of drivers for a particular make and model, it's more likely that the coinciding parts will inevitably sell.

    How to Sell a Junk Car to a Junkyard?

    The main source of business for a junkyard is the purchasing of junk cars. The public can receive quotes from junkyards to determine the best place to sell their scrap car. Depending on what type of storage the junkyard has and how they inventory their parts, some yards may be able to offer better prices due to higher profit margins.

    To sell a car to a junkyard, drivers should follow a few basic steps.

    1. Complete an online search of the local junk yards, auto salvage yards, and wrecking yards in your area
    2. Request quotes from the top few candidates, either through an online system or over the phone
    3. Choose the best offer and determine a time for the vehicle to be towed
    4. Receive cash from the tow driver or junkyard employee and finalize the sale

    In some states, the seller will need to notify the DMV of the junkyard sale. Research your local and state laws before selling your junk car, which will provide information on the titling requirements and how to legally process the sale.

    Can You Sell a Car to a Junkyard Without a Title?

    Yes, you can sell a car to a junkyard without a title if the local laws allow it. Some states have enacted rulings around when vehicles can be junked without a title. Depending on the vehicle's age and current condition, some junkyards are allowed to buy it without a title in hand. Signatures showing proof of transfer and sale may be required. When possible, a replacement title can be sought by the owner. This will result in a higher cash value for the junk car.

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