Cash Auto Salvage

Who Buys Junk Cars: 10 Expert Tips for Picking Car Salvage Services

who buys junk cars

Nobody got hurt in the crash – except your car, which has been deemed a total loss by your insurance company. And now you’re trying to figure out who buys junk cars, reminding yourself no one but the car got hurt.

Okay, maybe your dignity, but your insurance doesn’t have a say in that.

The pros and cons are out on buying a salvage car, but if both you and your insurance are looking to dump the car, junking it is a good way to get value out of your car.

Of course, getting a quote on your salvage car is an art in itself. Keep reading for 10 tips on how to get the most from your sale.

1. Know Why You’re Selling

As in, know what’s wrong with your car and what it’s going to cost to get it off your hands.

For example, preparation requirements. If your car isn’t driveable, the salvage service will either move it for you or ask you to tow it there yourself. (Pro tip: a service trying to upsell you by making you pay for towing is conning you.)

You should also know, based on the damage that led insurance to forsake your car, which parts are damaged. This will also affect your quote.

2. Selling Online vs. In Person

Fun fact: in the 21st century, that person who buys junk cars need not be in person. It’s a beautiful world we live in.

Here’s the thing: buying in person can help you ascertain personally whether the person is honest with you, but the price can vary widely between yards. It’s also possible you’ll have to swallow the cost of transporting the car.

Online buyers aren’t automatically shady; they just work differently. Usually, someone who buys junk cars from you over the phone or online is buying nationally. In this case, they’ll buy and then arrange for a local affiliate to pick it up.

Whatever else you do, do your homework to make sure someone buying online is legit, especially if they’re picking up the car from your home.

With online buyers, you should also make sure you’ve got all the appropriate paperwork set up yourself.

Side note: don’t forget our old pals/mortal enemies at the DMV. Yes, they’re annoying even when your car is dying.

The DMV has guidelines for salvage title vehicles. To make your life easier, those guidelines vary by state (emphasis on sarcasm.)

Make sure you know what the guidelines are before you Frankenstein your car. It makes the DMV a lot less insufferable.

3. Know Your Junker’s Value

A lot of factors will influence what you receive for your junker.

The biggest one? Knowing what your junker is worth before you walk in the door.

Remember that feeling when you bought your car? When you walked into the dealership and were had the sudden feeling you were getting played for a chump?

Know what your car is worth. At least a ballpark. And keep in mind that a lot of seemingly irrelevant factors can change the value – like where you live.

Or, the make and model of your car.

Year, Make, and Model Aren’t Just Numbers

Age is more than just a number. Especially when picking a salvage service.

Let’s get real. Someone who buys junk cars is paying attention to the year, make and model. There are a few reasons for this.

Some cars don’t have a significant change from year to year. That means their parts will be more widely available on the market, even if there isn’t a lot of that model on the market.

Kiddies, supply, and demand is an inverse relationship. If your car has a lot of parts that are widely available on the market, your junk value just won’t be as high. Even a different model year with the same parts might have a higher value.

Now, let’s be crystal clear: we’re not saying there’s no value in junking a mass-produced car. We’re saying you need to shop around to get the best price.

Yard A might turn up their nose. Yard B might snap it up before you can say the title number. Know your options.

4. Contact Area Salvage Service Yards

While we’re on the subject of knowing your options: shop around. Like a lot.

A lot of things will affect what quote you’ll get from someone who buys junk cars. That’s why it’s worth your while to ask around.

Say you have a car you’d like to sell, give all the particulars, and see what they have to say for themselves.

You should have a general sense of what your car is worth going in. Asking around will serve two purposes: proving which salvage yards aren’t shady and showing what price you’re likely to get for your car.

It’s also possible that one junkyard may see more value in a car than another. All to your benefit. You never know if you never ask.

5. Know Your Way Around Salvage Scams

As a general rule, if you feel like you’re being conned, that’s because you probably are.

To be fair, not every person who buys junk cars is scamming you, just most of them (kidding). Most junkyards and salvage services are legitimate businesses.

There’s no way of knowing how many junkyards use questionable tactics, but by one recent estimate, there are over 1 million used cars in the U.S. that have been title washed.

Here are a few red flags to watch out for.

Vague Units

Quick question: how many pounds in a ton?

If your answer was “I’m not good at math,” then congratulations. You’re about to be scammed.

Someone who buys junk cars knows that junk cars are often valued based on tonnage. But there are two kinds of tons: net tons (equal to 2,000 pounds) and long/metric tons (equal to 2,240 pounds).

Ask your dealer what tons they’re using. If they don’t answer, or say it doesn’t matter, they’re lying liars who lie. Also, if it looks like they’re quoting you on long tons when they told you otherwise, call them on it, leave and tell people to never go there.

Generally, if it looks like you’re being conned, that’s because you are. It’s way less fun when there’s no Matt Bomer for your troubles.

Towing Problems

Remember earlier when we said someone who’s charging you to tow could well be conning you?

Here’s the thing: towing a car is not rocket science.

Ask your dealer if towing is included in your cost. If they won’t answer or if they answer vaguely, you’re in for a surprise when they come to tow your car.

Not the fun kind that has confetti either.

Some real winners will even charge you twice. Once when you get the quote and again when they actually tow it. Rude.

Ask. If you don’t ask, don’t look for sympathy.

False Incentives

Repeat after me: non-cash incentives are a bigger con than Ponzi.

If a dealer is giving you a low offer and trying to sweeten it with coupons, they’re not being generous. The coupons are bigger junk than the car you’re trying to ditch.

Often, they’ll be highly restrictive and of limited value. No matter what they’re trying to throw at you, if it’s not a good offer, it’s not worth it.

6. Easy vs Profitable in Selling to a Junkyard

Easy and good idea are not synonyms. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Usually, when you call a cash-for-cars company, they’ll quote you for the scrap metal and exclude the parts. That’s why, if you have the time, it could be worth it to sell the parts on your own beforehand.

On the other hand, if you just want to get rid of your car quickly, finding someone who buys junk cars could be of benefit to you. Usually, they’ll tow it, pay you on the spot and deal with the paperwork themselves.

In other words, it’s a clean breakup. For a lower value. Make of that what you will (and for the sake of you and your loved ones, don’t apply this to relationship advice.)

7. Junk Value vs Used Value

Notice how these are two different phrases. That means they’re not the same thing.


Junk value is like scrap value. Scrap value is the value of an asset’s components when the asset itself is deemed no longer useful.

Unsurprisingly, junk value is the value of the components of your car (like the parts and the metal) when the car itself is deemed too useless for this world.

Bear in mind that junk value and used value are relative. You might think that your car has value because it runs fine, but someone who buys junk cars might see a late model vehicle with low mileage and a clean title.

Real talk: salvage services are not used car dealerships.

This means they’re more interested in the value they can get out of end-of-life vehicles that are worth more in parts than as a complete car.

8. The Value is the Weight – Not Accessories

We mentioned earlier that when you get a quote from a salvage service (like this one here!) you’re not getting quoted on the price of the car as a whole.

Remember: someone who buys junk cars is not a used car dealership. They don’t care about the bells and whistles.

Translation: they couldn’t care less that your car has a fancy stereo system. They will not pay you more for your car because of the said stereo system.

They’re not buying it for the stereo. They’re buying it for the scrap.

Make no mistake: there is a market for parts. It’s just that someone who buys junk cars isn’t in that market. This brings us to #9.

9. Sell the Parts

Take a long hike back in time to tips #6 and #8.

Salvage yards, or an individual who buys junk cars, don’t quote you on the value of the parts. They quote you on the value of the scrap.

If you have the time and patience to sell the parts yourself, you can make a decent chunk of change doing it.

Fair warning: it’s a ton of work (net and metric). You’ll essentially have to remove everything from the interior of the car that isn’t metal. You’ll also have to drain fluids, remove wires, and ascertain which parts are worth selling.

And unless you’ve got a buyer lined up, you’ll also have to store the parts appropriately until you can find one.

Add this to the time required to figure out the value of these parts if you don’t already know your stuff, and the time required to sell the parts to a non-shady buyer (they exist, you just have to be aware of yourself).

10. Compare Offers

This isn’t a high school history test. Compare notes. Compare notes generously. Be obnoxious.

Okay, don’t be obnoxious. You should be thorough though.

This goes back to visiting several junkyards. Get quotes to figure out what you’re getting out of each respective deal.

Pro tip: get a guaranteed offer. This means the price can’t change once a local affiliate comes to pick up the car. Why get robbed at the very end of the game?

Towing should also factor into your offer quality considerations. As we’ve already repeated, someone who buys junk cars and is also reputable will usually tow for free. Asking about it during the offer is a way to make sure.

Find Out Who Buys Junk Cars

Still with us? Great. Let’s find you someone who buys junk cars.

Hint: we do. Look at that.

We like to think of ourselves as your one-stop shop for all things auto salvage. Because everyone likes it when things are easier.

We cover a lot of important questions about auto salvage on our blog, especially for newbies. Check out our guide to everything you need to know about auto salvage to get started, or where you can sell your car.

Still have questions? Good thing we’ve still got answers. Check out our FAQ page for a few common ones.

Junk Yards Near Me: A Customer Guide to Selling Junk Cars

how to sell a junk car

When disposal of your vehicle becomes a necessity there are many factors to consider before deciding on your vehicle’s final resting place. Whether the vehicle is totaled or has been sitting around collecting rust, what do you do with it?

Cash Auto Salvage is excited to provide this comprehensive and informative guide. We offer solid advice and answer commonly asked questions about selling a junk car for cash.

Have you recently totaled your car in an accident? Do you have an old junker you’re ready to sell?

Our guide is written for you. Read on and you will learn:

  • What criteria are used to determine if a car or truck is classified as “junk”
  • The different selling options available to the owner of a junk car
  • Important information on how to handle issues with the vehicle title
  • What to look for in a reputable junk car dealer in your area
  • Important tips to help you successfully sell your car for cash

Full of useful information, this customer guide will prepare you for the task of selling your car to a junk or salvage yard.

What is a “Junk Car?”

There are two distinct definitions used to define a junk car. Make sure you understand which category your wrecked or unrepairable vehicle falls under. It will help you decide what to do when it is time to sell your junk car.

Total Loss

If you were involved in an accident you’re probably waiting to hear from your auto insurance company. The appraiser may determine your vehicle to be a “total loss” if the damage is extensive. This also may be referred to as “totaled”.

If your vehicle is totaled (or deemed a total loss), this means that the cost of repairing your damaged vehicle is more than the current value of your car. In this scenario, a junked vehicle is also referred to as a salvage vehicle.

End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV)

A vehicle that cannot be repaired or safely driven on the road is considered an ELV. These vehicles are inoperable.

An ELV designation is given if the vehicle: suffered large-scale damage from an accident; has no monetary value due to extreme deterioration or age; has been stationary for an extended period of time (typically abandoned cars and vehicles missing necessary parts).

Before selling an End-of-Life vehicle to a junk car buyer it’s a good idea to locate the title or apply for a replacement.

What to Do With a Total Loss Vehicle

In the case of a total loss you have two options: pay to repair it or junk it.

Repair It

If you choose to keep your totaled car and pay for the repairs, a salvage title is required before it can be driven. Check your particular states’ regulations to find out what is required to obtain a salvage title.

Most statutes will read something like: “If the owner retains a motor vehicle upon settlement of a claim with an insurance company, the owner must apply for a salvage certificate of title in their name.”

Issues With Repair

It’s important to be aware of possible issues you may encounter before deciding to repair your totaled vehicle.

  • The likelihood of future repairs is high – the severe trauma of an accident compromises the integrity of a vehicle; there may be internal or structural flaws that were not detected during repair.
  • Salvaged vehicles suffer major depreciation – used car valuators such as Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides do not apply to vehicles with a salvaged title. This makes it hard to determine an accurate value for the vehicle. You will find it difficult to negotiate a fair market value price should you decide to sell.
  • Prepare for auto insurance woes — many insurance companies only offer extremely limited coverage for salvage cars and trucks, or may choose not to offer insurance at all
  • Troubles with resale – the majority of new and used car dealerships will not accept a vehicle with a salvage title as a trade-in. Since vehicle history reports are available online, selling to private buyers may also be difficult.

It’s important to note that an auto salvage yard cannot buy your junk car if you still owe money on the vehicle.

Sell or Junk It

Sell it Online

One place to sell your junk car is on Craiglist or eBay.

There are plenty of buyers searching for junked cars. Depending on the type of vehicle and the condition, buyers will purchase your junk car for refurbishing or as a source of parts. This is a great option if you have space to store the vehicle and are willing to coordinate transportation.

Sell it for Parts

You can disassemble your junk car and sell the valuable parts. This DIY project can net you several hundred dollars. All you need is a little ambition, the right tools, some know-how and storage space for parts that don’t sell right away.

Donate It

If you just want to get rid of a junker and cash for your car is not a priority, donating your vehicle is an excellent way to go. Donation facilities will usually pick the vehicle up at no charge. Don’t forget a receipt — donating your junker to a non-profit organization is tax deductible.

Sell it For Cash

There are over 9,000 salvage and junk yards nationwide, all in the business of purchasing junk cars. The majority of these operations provide a convenient, hassle-free service. Many offer free online estimates.

A reputable salvage company will not charge a fee for towing a junk car.

Why Sell to a Junkyard?

Despite certain stigmas attached to vehicle salvage operations (remember Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown?) they offer an extremely beneficial service to the economy and the environment.

Salvage lots and junk yards are in the business of recycling automobiles, a multi-billion dollar industry. Roughly fourteen million tons of steel are recycled every year in the United States. At least 25% of the steel used to assemble a new vehicle is recycled material. This equates to the manufacture of 13 million vehicles.

Before the vehicle is sent to a shredding facility it is stripped. Intact parts (hoods, bumpers, doors, seats, windows, engines and transmissions) are either reused, if they meet quality-control standards, or repurposed.

80% of a junk car is recyclable. This includes items like tires, batteries, catalytic converters, and plastics. The recycled materials are delivered to an authorized processing facility. These regulated facilities practice environmentally sound disposal techniques.

The automotive recycling industry has very high standards concerning hazardous materials in junked out cars. According to the Automotive Recyclers Association, 96% of all lead acid batteries are collected from vehicles taken to salvage lots.

Here’s an interesting fact — car batteries are the number one recycled product in the US — more than aluminum and paper.

What to Know About Your Junk Car Title

In most states, a valid title is required for a car or truck to exchange hands. Before selling your junk car to the salvage dealer it is a good idea to check your state’s salvaged auto regulations. Every state has different guidelines regarding titles, registration, and license plate.

Here are some basic procedures for title transfer standard in any state:

  • All written information and signatures must be in blue or black ink
  • If you make a mistake, strike through it with a single straight line and initial below the error (the DMV must be able to see what the error was). Scribbling over items or using white-out invalidates the title. You will have to take a trip to the DMV to apply for a duplicate.
  • The title must be signed using a signature that matches the name printed on the title; if your name changed since you purchased the vehicle, do not sign the title with your current name. Regardless of the purpose for your name change (marriage, divorce, or any other reason), you must sign the title using the name printed on the document

It’s good practice to not hand over your title to a salvage yard representative (or any other car buyer) until you have received payment.

No Title? You Have Options

If you can’t find the title to your junk car the first course of action is to replace the lost title through your local DMV. Most states have an entire section dedicated to “lost titles” on their website.

If you need the cash for your car before you will receive the replacement title some junk yards are willing to accommodate you. A valid photo ID and current registration (to prove ownership) will be needed.

If the title is not available, document the transaction using a Bill of Sale.

A Bill of Sale should have the following information:

  • Buyer and seller names
  • The date of the sale
  • A description of the vehicle – year, make, model, vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The mileage of the vehicle at the time of the sale
  • The agreed upon price
  • You may also want to add a note that reads “title to follow”

Tips on Getting the Most Cash from a Junk Car Buyer

Here are some criteria to consider:


Although not a hundred percent, you will be able to weed out the “shady” operations based on complaints logged at the Better Business Bureau. Unethical junkyards are notorious for using bait-and-switch tactics. Successful cash-for-cars operations have websites where you can check out customer reviews.

Why waste your time with inexperience or inefficiency?

Yards with multiple locations or a nationwide network are professionals in the industry. They have the business of buying totaled or junk cars down to a science. Larger operations can usually afford to offer more cash for your car.


Check to see which junkyards offer service in your area. Some have larger service areas due to multiple locations. A larger fleet of tow trucks means you will not have to wait for days to have your clunker towed.

Legitimate salvage yards have no problem giving you an estimate before towing your car. Look for those who offer free quotes online, so you have an idea of what to expect when you start making phone calls.

Price and Payment

Operations that value customers are not shady about their pricing. Look for businesses with websites openly publishing prices paid for other junk vehicles.

The automobile recycling industry is highly competitive. Obtain several quotes to maximize the cash you get for your car. Choose a junkyard willing to pay you dollars per ton of steel for your vehicle.

And since cash-for-cars is the name of the game, make sure they pay in cash.

If a representative shows up to tow your car with a cash amount less than the original quote, do not allow them to take the vehicle, keep the title, and call another salvage yard.

Say Your Final Farewells

Once you have received a quote from the salvage yard, it’s time to finalize towing arrangements. Now there’s only one thing left to do – pat Old Betsy on the boot and say good-bye.

Gather all your belongings using this helpful checklist as a reminder.

  • License Plates (this is crucial since many states require plates be returned to the DMV)
  • Any custom or stock stereo equipment, CDs, CD player, DVD player, speakers, woofers, etc.
  • Jumper Cables, tire iron, jack and any emergency roadside items
  • Spare tire
  • Thoroughly go through your trunk and glove compartment. Retrieve items with personal information or account numbers

Closing Thoughts

Perhaps Murphy’s Law decided to pay you an undeserving visit. Maybe it’s time to get rid of dad’s “I always wanted to overhaul a car with my own hands project” (still sitting on the side of the house, of course).

Selling your junk car is either an unfortunate necessity or something you have put off for far too long. Regardless of your reason, we hope you found our Guide to Selling Junk Cars helpful.

If you recently totaled your vehicle or have a junk car sitting in your yard, consider Cash Auto Salvage for your cash for car needs.

Contact us today for a free quote.

Free Junk Car Removal For Every Vehicle

We Back Up The Truck With Cash
We Back Up The Truck With Cash

Did you know that your old or totaled car is actually worth money?  If you are trying to figure out what to do with a car that you have just sitting around, you need to call Cash Auto Salvage today.  We are a network of junk car buyers that are dedicated to giving you the highest purchase price for your junk cars.  We offer free junk car removal for every vehicle, no matter what the condition.  Our process is quick and easy, and we will provide you with a free offer with only a few details.

Free Offer for the Purchase of Your Junk Car

If you have a junk car that you need to get rid of, all you need to do is call 1-855-540-4649.  We will ask you a few questions about your vehicle, and we will provide you with an offer on the spot.  If you would prefer not to call, we also offer a fast cash for cars form that only takes around 2 minutes to fill out.  Once you have submitted the form, we will contact you with our best offer for your car.

Free Pick Up

Once we have made you an offer, and you accept it, we will work with you to make arrangements that are most convenient for you.  We can pick up any car, SUV, truck, or van at whatever location that works best for you, including your home or office.

Get Paid

Once we pick up the vehicle, all you have to do is give us the keys if they are available, and we will pay you the cash that you agreed to from our offer.  We strive to make the process as easy and stress free as possible so that you can get paid for your vehicle without all the hassle.

What We Accept

At Cash Auto Salvage, we accept nearly any vehicle.  We will recycle cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs that are in any condition.  We accept all makes, models, and years of vehicles, so you can finally get rid of that junk car that you just do not know what to do with.

If you do not have the keys or title for the vehicle, that is not a problem.  All we will need from you is a copy of your license or ID, as well as a copy of the vehicle registration.  It does not matter if the registration is expired, as long as the information on it matches your ID.

When you accept our offer, we are usually able to handle your request within 24 hours, but most are taken care of within a few hours for your convenience.  We will pay you by cash, check, or money order when we pick up the vehicle – its your choice!

Our goal is to make this a quick and easy way of getting paid for your junk car.  Our network will provide you with the best pricing possible so that you can get on with your life. Get a free cash for cars quote today.