We'll buy your car - no matter the condition!

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

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

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.

Share this!


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.

maximize cash offer on car

We'll buy your vehicle!

Wait! We REALLY Want Your Vehicle!

We pay up to $20,000 for cars, trucks, & SUV’s – no matter the condition. Get paid on the spot + free towing!

Or Call... 1-855-922-3095

There is no obligation to accept an offer.

Unable to verify mileage

Selecting “unable to verify” may decrease your offer and should only be selected if you cannot visually confirm the mileage of the vehicle upon inspection of the odometer.