7 Factors That Determine How Much a Junk Car is Worth

A junk car's worth varies. There are 7 factors that determine a junk car's value. The 7 factors are listed below.

1. Vehicle year, make, and model

The older the vehicle, the lower its value. The only exception to this rule is when dealing with a well-maintained vintage car. Make, and model is not the same thing. The make of a vehicle is its brand. An excellent example of this is when referring to a Rolls Royce or a Beetle. A Rolls Royce is known for its superior design and expensive parts. Therefore, the Rolls Royce will cost more than the Beetle.

When referring to the model of a car, we are referring to its specific name. Nissan is a make that manufactures Nissan Skyline {model}. Newer models have advanced technology and spare parts that have high demand in the market. As a result, the price of these junk cars is higher.

2. Vehicle’s condition

The condition of a vehicle will determine its sale value. Cars that require minimal repair to be operable will fetch better prices. Junk cars that have numerous mechanical problems will cost less. Junkyard dealers will decide to salvage a vehicle if they establish that repairing it is too expensive.

To increase the sale value of a junk car, protect it from weather elements such as rain. Rain and extreme temperatures can corrode the metal lowering its value. Components that can reduce the car's value include a missing steering rack, transmission system, and damaged engine.

3. Vehicle's parts

Decrepit cars that lack valuable parts will cost less when compared to vehicles that have these parts. Functional car parts that increase the value of a junk car include the airbag system, doors, Gps systems, and fenders. Other valuable parts are the wheels, rims, catalytic converters, and bumper. These parts are useful because they are sold to second-hand car dealers.

Parts such as catalytic converters are valuable because they contain precious metals such as platinum and palladium. Bumpers are made from materials such as steel and fiberglass, which makes them useful. Airbag systems that did not deploy can be sold to other motorists at a profit. GPS systems are in high demand because of their electronic components. A car has many parts but it's the valuable junk car parts that matter.

4. Vehicle's weight

How does the weight affect junk car value? The bigger the vehicle, the more metals it has in mass. Therefore, bigger cars are bought more because the junkyard will have more metals to sell.

A good example is selling a ford truck and a beetle. The Beetle weighs less because it does not use alot of metal. As a result, it will be bought for less when compared to the buying price of a Ford truck.  The weight has a big impact on the value of junk cars.

5. Local scrap metal prices

Local scrap prices change daily. The prices are affected by factors such as the global economy, the cost of energy, and natural disasters. The prices are also affected by market forces {demand and supply}.

The two most common metals found in a car are steel and aluminum. Therefore, a sudden change in any of these metals will significantly affect the price of a junkyard car. Prices are also affected by geopolitical factors. An example is when a country increases tariffs on the cost of imported steel and aluminum.

The tariff will increase the cost of steel, expanding the demand for local metals. An increase in local demand will result in increased prices for scrap cars. Therefore, scrap metal prices impact junk car values greatly.

6. Valid vehicle title

A car title is used to show proof of ownership. The title must have a license plate number, owner's name, make, model, and year of manufacture. The title should also have technical information, such as gross weight. Vehicles bought using a lien should have the lien holder's information. Lien cars are cars that have been purchased using debt.

Junkyard companies will use information such as gross weight, make, model, and year of manufacture to determine a suitable price. A salvage title is given to a car that has been damaged to the extent that it would cost 50 - 100% of its value to repair.

Read more on how the vehicle title impacts a junk car's value.

7. Vehicle’s location

The location of the vehicle is a factor in that it impacts scrap metal prices. Location also matters in terms of how far the vehicle is located from the junk car buyer. The longer the distance, the more the towing charges. Higher towing costs will reduce the offer price. Lastly, some vehicles are more prevalent in certain regions than others.  All of these makeup why the location is an important factor in determining the scrap value of a car.

How much is a junk car worth?

If you have one or more cars you want to scrap, you might wonder how much money you can get for each vehicle. While the exact price will vary from place to place, as well as the make and model of your vehicle, the average price for junking a car is anywhere between $200 and $800.

Junk car prices are typically calculated by the weight of the vehicle being junked. That's because the scrapyard makes a profit on the metal and raw materials they can harvest from the vehicle. Larger vehicles will yield a higher profit. Smaller cars will yield a lower profit.

The average price for scrapping a car can also vary depending on your state. Here’s a breakdown of the average price to junk a car by state.

View updated junk car prices.

Which is the Most Important Factor in Determining What a Junk Car is Worth?

The most crucial scrap car value factor is the price of scrap metal. Higher scrap metal prices increase demand for scrap cars. The price of scrap metal is affected by three factors. The first is the quality of the scrap metal. A vehicle that has rusted or insulated metal will be valued less.

The second factor is the season. Season affects demand and supply constraints that affect various industries, such as construction. During winter, construction activity slows down, affecting the scrap metal market.

Finally, scrap vehicle prices are also affected by changes in commodity prices. Increased commodity prices in the international market will increase demand for scrap metal. The increase in demand for scrap metal will increase junkyard car prices.

What Factors Affect Junk Car Prices In The Past and Present?

In the past, the value of junk cars was mainly determined by the weight of the vehicle and the current price of scrap metal. However, other factors such as the condition of the vehicle, make and model, and demand for specific parts could also affect the price.

Today, the value of junk cars is still influenced by the same factors as in the past but some additional factors have emerged. Environmental regulations have become stricter which has led to an increased demand for environmentally friendly vehicles. As a result some junk cars may have valuable parts that are in higher demand than others.

The factors that affect the price of junk cars has involved over time but, the weight of the vehicle and current scrap metal prices still play a significant role. Learn more about the history of junk car prices.


How to calculate how much a scrap or junk car is worth

Scrap value is an estimated cost that a car owner can use to sell an asset. Scrap value has to factor in the price of depreciation. Every junkyard has its preferred way of calculating the scrap value of a vehicle. However, all of them will factor in four main things.

The first is the make, model, and year of manufacture. The older the car is, the lower its value. Most old cars do not have valuable parts that can be fitted to new model cars. The second thing that will be considered is the value of salvaged parts. The more reusable car parts there are, the higher the price. Essential parts include the battery, radiator, bumper, and engine.

The third factor is weight. Cars that weigh 1.5 tonnes will fetch lower prices when compared to vehicles that weigh 2.5 tonnes. Lastly, the junkyard will consider the cost of valuable metals such as steel and aluminum.\

You can also use our scrap car value calculator to calculate the scrap car's value.

Does the value of junk cars vary nationwide in pricing?

Yes. Scrap vehicle prices vary nationwide depending on three main factors. The first factor is location. Some States have more demand for scrap metal than others. As a result, they have higher junk car prices.

The second factor is the make and model of the decrepit vehicle. Some dilapidated cars have spare parts with more demand than others. The higher the need for a car’s spare parts, the better the price.

How much metal is in a junk car?

The amount of metal in a junk car will vary depending on size. However, according to Worldsteel Association, 900kg of steel is used in a normal-sized car. 40% of this steel is used in the body structure, while 23% is used to make wear-resistant gears.

According to the Aluminum Association, around 150kg of aluminum is used in a standard-sized car. 2.5 Kg of cobalt is used in a Prius car battery.

How much is the metal in a junk car worth?

The average price of car scrap metal is $200 per ton. The price will fluctuate depending on the size of the car. Smaller cars will have less metal and therefore cost less. Steel is worth $145 per ton, while iron is worth $200/per ton.

How much is a scrap car engine worth?

The price of a scrap car engine will depend on the engine’s condition, capacity, and local demand.

How much is a scrap catalytic converter worth?

The average value of a scrap catalytic converter is $300 - $1,200. The price of the converter will depend on the Car’s model and make. The converter will fetch a better price if the car has a big engine capacity.

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