Car Scrap Value: Understand the Value of Your Car Before You Sell

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

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It’s official, your car has died. It’s old and most people consider it a hunk of junk.

At this point, you might think you’re out of options. Luckily, that’s simply not true.

All that’s really needed is for you to understand what your car scrap value is truly worth. Then you can more easily find the right place to sell your car for a good price.

Keep reading to learn how.

The Time of Year Makes a Difference

With certain cars, what time of year you try to sell your car will make a difference. Car scrap value for a 4×4 or SUV rises when there is bad weather.

The amount of money you’ll be able to get on your junk car will also rise on these vehicles when the cost of gas goes down.

Meanwhile, convertibles have a much higher value during warmer months, especially when the sun is shining.

However, don’t wait until the season changes to sell your car. Instead, if you have a convertible in Connecticut, consider heading toward warmer weather like Florida to get a better price car scrap value for your car.

Waiting Too Long Devalues Your Car Scrap Value

While it might now seem like you should wait to sell your 4×4 or SUV when it’s winter, that’s not true.

If you’re not driving a car, then the longer you wait, the scrap value will actually go down. That’s because many parts on cars will quickly deteriorate when they’re not being used.

Also worth noting, those parts that deteriorate the most quickly are also the most valuable parts of your car. Here’s what happens when a car is no longer being used.

Rust covers the car more quickly when the car isn’t being used. Rubber parts become brittle.

Fluids begin to settle out. Gasoline left in the tank will absorb water coming from the air.

Cars left outside are at the mercy of the weather. Seats can crack and fade in the sun. Left out in the rain, snow or cold, corrosion is a possibility.

And let’s not forget about animals. An infestation can really devalue the price of your car scrap value if they start chewing on the wiring.

If your car has been unused for a while and you plan to sell it to a scrap yard, just tell them you recently stopped using it. You’ll get a car scrap value that way.

Check Out Current Scrap Metal Prices

An average car has 2,400 pounds of steel in it. A truck contains 3,000 pounds worth of steel.

That’s about 55% of the car’s total weight. But both vehicles also contain aluminum. About 300 pounds worth is found in the average vehicle.

Car junkers are looking to buy the steel, aluminum, copper, and other metals found in your car. These metals all are worth something. Their current prices will greatly affect your car scrap value.

The car junkers want to buy your car for the metals because they, in turn, can sell those same metals to manufacturers who will recycle those metals for use in new cars, building materials, and even cell phones.

Which means if you sell your car to a car junker, you’re actually helping out the environment.

However, keep in mind that the price of metals depends greatly on the demand. Unfortunately, right now the supply is high while demand is low.

The demand depends on how whether car companies are making cars and building construction is low. This means the price of aluminum and steel is low.

Before you sell your car, check out the current prices of metal. They vary on a daily basis. They also vary depending on where you are in the country.

You want to ensure you receive the best car scrap value possible.

Salvage Prices are Higher Than Scrap Metal Prices

Don’t get too discouraged if the price of scrap metal seems low. Don’t forget there are other valuable parts of your vehicle that affect its car scrap value.

If your car still contains parts that work and are reusable, that will increase the price you receive for your car. The alternator, starter motor, new tires, and your onboard GPS system are all worth something.

Actually, anything else that’s easily removed and can be resold is worth some value. Just keep in mind that salvaging these parts also involve labor, along with the risk and expense of keeping inventory on hand.

As a result, auto salvage companies won’t give you full value for these parts. Their intention is to resell to make a profit. However, negotiating with the salvage yard for about half the car scrap value is a possibility.

Don’t Forget the Weight of Your Car Matters

If the prices you’re looking at for scrap metal seem confusing or you don’t have access to the latest figures, that’s okay.

You can also use your vehicle’s curb weight to guestimate its value as scrap metal. That’s because the majority of your vehicle is steel.

That makes it easier to determine the value of scrap steel used in recycling yards. Prices around $150 are fairly common.

Which means the average car is usually worth somewhere around $300 to a scrapyard.

However, if your car has parts that are salvageable or can be sold at auction, negotiate further with the junkyard for a higher car scrap value. You can also keep looking around for a better quote.

A Driveable Car is Worth More

If your car is still driveable, you’re going to have a higher car scrap value for it.

That’s because there won’t be any towing involved. It costs money for a company to come to your home or business to pick up and tow away your car.

While they do tow cars all the time, saving their time and a little bit of money will help increase the overall car scrap value for your car.

Also, a car that still runs is much more desirable to auction buyers. They often are looking to buy cars to refurbish and then resell.

However, you should know that unless your car is in excellent shape, your car will most likely be sold as part of a group of cars at auction. That will lower the amount of money your car is worth.

But don’t think that just because your car will be sold with others cars as a group at auction that the only amount it’s worth is only worth the scrap minimum. You should receive more than the bare minimum of its car scrap value.

Check Out the Blue Book Value

Don’t forget to check out what the current Blue Book value of your car is. It’s easy and free.

However, if your only option is to junk your car, the car scrap value will not be anywhere near the Blue Book value.

That’s because the Blue Book assumes your car is in good condition. If that were the case, you wouldn’t need to consider selling your car to a junkyard.

However, looking up the Blue Book value will help you estimate whether the offer given by the junkyard or salvage company is worth it. Here’s how to figure that out.

Simply take the potential Blue Book value and subtract the cost of all repairs needed to make the car sellable. That will provide you with a rough estimate of what your car might be worth if sold at auction or repaired and flipped at a junkyard.

You can also check out the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) website to get a general determination of your car’s value.

Contact Your Insurance Company to Find Out the Salvage Value

You can also contact your insurance company to determine the car scrap value. Just keep in mind that each insurance company uses their own formula to determine the price.

Your assessor will consider what happens next to your vehicle and the costs associated with getting rid of it. Those costs are then compared to what the expense would be if the car were repaired to its original condition.

Your insurance company will also use past auction results to determine how much they can recoup their costs if the car is a total loss. A specialty vehicle determined to be a total loss can actually sell for a much higher salvage vehicle than a more common vehicle.

That may increase the value.

To make the determinations, call your insurance company. Find out what percentage is used in their calculations. Most companies use between 75% and 80%.

Other factors such as rental car charges, parts availability, and type of repair may be considered. Also, if a major part is discontinued or unavailable, the total loss may be determined at a much lower percentage.

Next, multiply the market value of the percentage provided by your insurance company to get the car scrap value.

If the car is completely totaled or declared to be a total loss, a few things might happen. Your insurance company can pay you a settlement check for the cash value of the car, minus any deductible.

If that happens, your insurance company takes ownership of your car. In other words, you are selling your car to your insurance company at whatever amount they feel it’s worth based on their own calculations.

Consider Trading in Your Car

If your car has really reached the point of no return, it’s worth looking into trading it in. Especially if it’s your primary vehicle.

Keep in mind that the dealership’s primary goal is to turn around and sell your car for a profit. The amount they’ll give you will be lower than what you can get selling it yourself.

If it’s completely junked and not even running, an auto dealership may not be interested as it will take them much more work to get the car into resellable shape.

However, you can put that amount toward a new car, which is great. It’s also a lot less hassle than researching scrap yards and current metal prices to determine its scrap value.

Get More Than One Quote

Don’t call one company and assume they’re going to give you the same price as everyone else.

Do some homework first to ensure the car scrap value you receive is the best you can get.

Also, don’t accept any car price that has conditions attached to it. Some junkyards aren’t scrupulous and may try to pull a bait and switch on you.

That means they’ll offer you a great price over the phone but with the condition that the final price will be given after inspection. When they arrive, their final quote turns out to be far lower than the original quote.

Consider Donating Your Car

Sometimes, it’s worth more to donate your car than to try to sell it for its car scrap value.

That’s because you can claim it as a deduction on your taxes. Make sure you donate it to a legitimate charity.

To receive more of a donation, drive the car yourself to the charity. Using a towing service will lower the amount your car is worth.

If the charity you give your car to plans on reselling your car, ask them what percentage of the proceeds they’ll receive.

Don’t forget to keep your records. Donating a car to charity is a red flag for an audit by the IRS.

They’ll help you assess its worth and how much you can claim it for on your taxes.

Consider Selling to Us

If you have a car that’s no longer useful to you and your family, consider selling it to us.

We buy cars, trucks, SUV’s, and vans in any type of condition. We also buy these vehicles in any type of condition, make, year, or model.

We’ll even consider buying an RV, bus, or work truck, depending on your location.

We’ll offer you a fair car scrap value for your vehicle. That price won’t change after the vehicle has been dropped off.

We’ll even pick up your car within 24 hours after giving you a free estimate.

We’re also located conveniently all over the United States. Check to find a location near you.

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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