Scrapping a Car: How to Salvage a Car for Cash

If you've found yourself with a junk car that you need to sell, consider your options first. Those with experience with cars may be able to remove some of the parts and scrap them for cash separately to maximize profit. Scrapping a car is the process of dismantling and salvaging usable parts and components, such as GPS systems, batteries, and catalytic converters. Once the vehicle has been salvaged for parts, the remainder of the body can be sold to a scrap yard. The metal frame is still worth a chunk of cash, depending on the current market prices.

The process of scrapping a car can be time-consuming, so many sellers opt to sell intact junk vehicles to junk car buyers, such as junkyards or online entities. Depending on the experience the owner has removing parts and finding buyers, scrapping a car for parts may not be worth it. Those looking to make an extra few hundred dollars at least from their junk car can upgrade the value of their scrap car by searching online marketplaces and local buy and sell groups for interested buyers of used car parts. Websites such as eBay and Facebook provide an opportunity for sellers to connect with buyers across the country.

How to Scrap a Car For Cash

The best way to scrap a car and maximize the cash value of a junk car is to follow the 7 steps below.

1. Find Buyers for Your Car Parts

Before embarking on the process of removing parts on a junk car, first determine where the buyers are located. For many people, it's difficult to find storage space for various parts of a dismantled vehicle. If a buyer is already lined up, you can ship directly after removing the part and cleaning it up or you can schedule a local pick up or drop off.

Some of the best parts to dismantle and sell individually include:

  • Batteries
  • Radiators
  • Spare tires
  • Catalytic converters
  • Aftermarket tires
  • Audio systems
  • GPS systems

Sellers can choose to list these items on an online site, such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace to garner interest. If nobody is interested in buying the part, it's no use spending the time to salvage it and remove it.

2. Remove and Sell the Car Parts

The process of removing vehicle parts can be difficult. If you have no experience doing this, it's best to work with a trusted mechanic to pull the parts out without causing damage to them. There are various YouTube videos and online resources to learn how to work on a car and how to remove most parts on any make and model.

Once the parts have been successfully removed, all that remains is to sell them. Contact the interested buyer and set up either a local pick-up or a shipping agreement. Most sellers opt to get paid cash for parts, as this is the quickest, easiest, and most trustworthy source of payment as opposed to a check.

3. Remove Your Personal Belongings

Before you have your junk car towed, it's important to collect all of your items from the interior. This may include forgotten CDs in the center console or a coffee mug that rolled under the backseat. Check the trunk for any items, as well. Even if you have personal belongings that you no longer want inside your junk car, you should throw them away yourself. It is not the responsibility of the tow truck driver or the employees at the junkyard to sort through these items. The vehicle doesn't need to be detailed and washed, just free of garbage.

Insurance cards and important pieces of documentation should be removed, as the owner may need these later on. Make a plan to clear out the junk vehicle a day or two in advance of the tow truck's scheduled arrival. This allows you plenty of time to collect your things and prevents you from forgetting something. Once it's at the junkyard, it will be parted out or sent directly to the scrap yard to be shredded.

4. Gather Paperwork

Even after a junk car has been sold, sellers will still need the vehicle's title of ownership and important insurance and registration documents. Anytime a vehicle is sold, whether to a private buyer or a junkyard, there is always paperwork involved. A paper trail ensures that everything is legal and above board while providing proof of sale and ownership. Call the DMV to cancel the registration and have the title transferred to the junk car buyer.

When a vehicle has lien paperwork against it, then it cannot be sold to a junkyard. This means that money is still owed on the vehicle and the loan must first be paid off before it can be scrapped, even when the sale isn't to a private buyer.

5. Shop Around for the Best Scrap Car Price

When selling a junk car or any valuable item, it's key to shop around to find the best price. To do this with a junk car, call several junk yards or junk car buyers and request a quote. Most of the quotes should be in the same ballpark, though if one is significantly lower — this can be considered a lowball offer. Once you have several offers, choose the highest one to accept. This puts extra cash in your pocket that only costs an hour of researching and calling around.

Online junk car buyers such as Junk Car Medics have a convenient and hassle-free online offering system. Online quotes are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You don't need to worry about calling during business hours. Input some general information about the junk car, as well as the current odometer mileage and other key details to receive a quick, fair price

6. Scrap the Car

Once an offer has been accepted, the removal should be scheduled. With many buyers, this only takes a day or two. Sellers should keep in mind that additional towing fees and expenses should be baked into the offer price and not charged separately. Buyers who want to charge the seller for the towing expense should be avoided.

At the time of removal, the cash should be handed over by the tow driver. Many times, junk car buyers or junk yards work directly with the towing company. Once the vehicle has been removed and the cash is in hand, the sale has officially been complete and all that remains are a few T’s to cross and I’s to dot.

7. Cancel the Insurance and Registration

After the removal has been scheduled and the vehicle has been picked up and towed away, all that remains is to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to surrender the license plates and to inform them of the sale. Junk car sellers will also need to contact their insurance provider to cancel the policy. You no longer need to pay for a policy on a vehicle you don't own and operate. Ask the insurance agent if you're due any refunded premiums. If you paid for 6 months or a year of insurance, you may be entitled to that money back.

The DMV may request the registration papers on the car. When junking a car, it creates a unique scenario where the new owner likely isn't going to be registering the vehicle to be driven. Instead, the car will be disassembled and then recycled. The DMW will want to make a note that the junk car should no longer be registered in your name.

Scrap Car FAQs

Some of the most frequently asked questions concerning scrap cars are answered below.

How Can I Scrap My Car for the Most Money?

The process for scrapping a car for the most money is fairly straightforward in theory. The step-by-step instructions below outline how sellers can boost the cash value of their junk car, with a bit of elbow grease and the ability to locate interested buyers.

Outline of the basic steps in scrapping a car for the most money

  1. Research marketplaces, online or local, to find potential buyers.
  2. Remove the parts from the junk car and prepare them to be sold.
  3. Ship or deliver the parts and collect cash.
  4. Sell the remainder of the junk car to a scrap yard or vehicle shell buyer.

It's important to find buyers before removing parts, to avoid having loose salvaged parts lying around without an interested buyer. Depending on the popularity of the make, model, and year, finding buyers may be quick and easy. Less popular vehicles may take more time, as there are fewer of them on the road in need of used parts.

Will Junk Car Buyers Buy My Car After It's Been Salvaged

Junk car buyers prefer to purchase intact vehicles, as they make their profit from salvaging car parts and selling them to interested buyers. Once a junk car has been parted out, it's best to sell the frame to a scrap yard. The yard will base its offer on the weight of the vehicle and make a calculation using current scrap car prices.

Depending on the parts that have been removed, some junk car buyers will still be interested in purchasing the vehicle for a discounted rate. For instance, if the catalytic converter has been sold — many junk car buyers will still purchase the vehicle at a fair price. It is illegal in some locations for converters to be sold secondhand, meaning that they were destined for the scrap yard anyway.

How Much Can I Get for Scrapping a Car?

There is no one price that covers all instances of scrapping a car. Junk yards and junk car buyers will pay between $100-$500 and potentially higher for vehicles based on an array of factors. These factors include the vehicle's condition, the year it was manufactured, the make and model, the location, the status of the vehicle's parts, and the current market for scrap metal. Vehicles that have already been parted out are generally worth the lower end of $100. This is because they no longer hold value in resalable parts, just in their weight in metal.

In the long run, sellers will end up making a better profit if they choose to sell parts separately. The roadblock to doing this is that it takes a significant amount of time and expertise that many people don't have.

What's the Difference Between Scrapping a Car and Junking a Car?

The difference between scrapping a car and junking it is that scrapping involves dismantling and salvaging various parts and components. Junking a car means selling it whole to a yard or a buyer, without removing parts for resale. When junk car owners choose to scrap their vehicles, they are responsible for locating buyers for the parts. After the junk car has been dismantled, a buyer will need to be found for the remaining metal shell of the vehicle.

Junkyards basically act as a middleman between sellers and buyers interested in getting a deal on used car parts. They often have a buying population already in place, especially if they're local and they provide advertising to the community. This gives them a step up over individual sellers. Selling a junk car "as is" to a yard or an online buyer is much easier than salvaging it for parts. Junk car owners looking to make quick cash and to remove the decrepit vehicle from their property opt for selling it whole.

Is It Better to Scrap a Car or Junk It?

There are pros and cons to scrapping a car versus junking it. It's better to scrap a car when you have experience doing so, as this will net you extra money at the end of the day. It's better to junk a car when you have no experience working on cars, as the additional time and effort will cost you in the end. You can still get a good price for your junk car when you sell it intact, especially if you call around several buyers and junkyards to find the one offering the most cash.

Some neighborhoods, especially those with an HOA, don't allow inoperable vehicles to sit in the driveway. When scrapping a car, it will need to be dismantled and this can take time. Junk car owners may have a junk car in various levels of disrepair on their property for weeks, maybe a month or more, while they find buyers for the parts. This can be a determining factor in whether somebody junks or scraps their car, especially if they have nowhere else to work on it.

Chart of do's and don'ts of scrapping a car

When Should I Scrap a Car?

Sellers should opt to scrap a car when they have the background knowledge to do so. When the vehicle is reaching the end of its life or it's no longer safely drivable, parting it out and selling the functional pieces is a great way to boost the value of the scrap car. Mechanics and those who work in auto shops will often salvage parts from their vehicles before scrapping the bodies. If you have a friend who knows their way around under the hood, you may be able to ask for help.

The best time to scrap a car is when it can't be sold through platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Scrap car values are less than junk car values. Scrapping a car should be the last avenue for getting rid of it for cash. Vehicles that have major issues and would cost too much to repair are considered scrap. They're often a decade old at least with well over 100,000 miles on the odometer. When a car won't sell to a private buyer and it doesn't have any value left other than metal, it should be scrapped.

When to Not Scrap a Car

Those deciding between selling their whole junk car to a buyer or scrapping it out for parts will have to determine the worthwhileness of the task. If you have no experience with removing parts, this can potentially take days or weeks to learn how and to remove them safely. You'll also have to track down buyers, which can be a process in and of itself. Many people don't have this kind of excess time on their hands. It's more straightforward to sell the entire junk car to the yard as this is a one-step process. You'll still make a decent amount of cash and you'll have saved yourself time and stress.

Vehicles shouldn't be scrapped if they are still in a drivable condition and if the repair bill doesn't amount to the total value of the car. Many private buyers from online marketplaces are willing to shell out several hundred dollars for vehicles that need a bit of work and elbow grease to repair. As a rule of thumb, if the car will get more than $300-$500 through a private sale, this is the best route to go.

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