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[Do Your Homework] What to Know Before You Junk Your Wrecked Car

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Americans drive less than they did pre-pandemic, and experts predict that won’t change. There’s a good chance you’re spending a lot more time at home these days, whether you’re one of the millions of people who started working at home or out of work. Shelter-in-place orders and other public health measures also keep people off the roads.

If you were thinking about getting rid of a wrecked car before the pandemic came along, now is the perfect time to do so. We could all use some more money in the bank, and you might have the solution in your garage.

Junking an old vehicle is an easy way to make some fast cash. These are the basics of selling a junk car that you should know.

Be Realistic About Your Car’s Condition

The first thing you need to know about junking a car is that vehicle condition does matter. This is hard to understand for many people with old cars to sell. Knowing there are different perspectives on your vehicle helps.

The importance of condition boils down to this: Businesses and individuals that buy wrecked cars want the cars that sellers don’t.

The car’s condition doesn’t matter to sellers. It’s hard to view the car as anything but worthless junk when you can’t drive it and it’s wasting away in your driveway or garage.

On the other hand, buyers get more money when they resell cars and parts that aren’t broken or banged up.

Consider that if your car was worthless, you couldn’t sell it at all. Change your mindset to get the best price for your vehicle. Assuming your car is worth less than its true value gets you less money.

Don’t Confuse Junk Cars With Trash

Junk cars are always more valuable to buyers than they are to sellers, even in the worst condition possible. Yet, when you’re trying to sell, “wrecked car” may be a misleading term. Some “junk your auto” businesses deal in all kinds of used cars ranging from lightly used to cars good for nothing more than parts.

Wait, why would you sell a car that works to a junk car buyer? Selling a used car to a junk car buyer instead of to a dealership or individual has benefits for the seller and the buyer alike.

As a seller, you may be able to get more money for your used vehicle from a junk car buyer than you can from a dealership, depending on who you sell to and what you’re selling.

Selling to a car-buying business is less work for you than selling to a private individual is. Working with a reputable company means the deal won’t fall through like it might when selling to a stranger.

Buying used cars along with junk vehicles is good for buyers, too. As they’re in better condition, scrap metal and parts from them are worth more. If a used car is in exceptional condition, the buyer could sell the car to a dealership or individual instead of junking it.

What Makes up Your Vehicle?

Usable metals and car parts are the things that make junk cars valuable. Knowing the materials in the car can help you get more money when selling it. Pointing to wanted materials gives you more leverage when negotiating a price with junk car buyers.

Buyers want metals like steel and copper, while plastic and rubber parts aren’t worth as much. Determine how much of your car is made of plastic and what kinds of alloys its rims are.

If you know your car is scrap, separating these materials lets you learn how much you have for the junkyard. You may need to do this if you’re selling to a scrap yard instead of to another junk car business.

Separating iron, steel, aluminum, copper, and other metals makes it easy for them to estimate the value. You can get more money for scrap metal if you isolate valuable metals like copper.

Doing so helps scrap buyers make an accurate estimate, and means less work for them. Both of those things help you get more money for your vehicle.

Selling your car as scrap metal is less convenient than having your entire car picked up. Plenty of junk car buyers don’t need you to take your car apart at all. Talking to junk car buyers you’re considering will give you a good idea of what they’re looking for and how they want you to prepare the materials.

You May Want to Salvage Parts From Your Wrecked Car 

While scrap metal is a big draw for buyers, the most valuable things in cars are usable parts like working engines and catalytic converters. If you’re up for the job, gutting your car for useful parts may be wise.

Learn what parts your car has and how well they work. Seeing a mechanic before selling your car may help you figure out the parts’ condition and worth. Look up the value of car parts so you know how much they’re worth on average, too.

You can use some of the parts for yourself, sell them on your own, or use your knowledge to get more money for your car. For example, say a buyer offers $1000 for your wrecked car. If you went through the vehicle and know there’s $1000 more of usable parts in there, it helps you haggle.

Don’t Forget to Prepare Your Vehicle Before Junking It

One of the biggest regrets you could have when junking your car is not readying it before sending it away.

Why? Even people who try to keep their cars clean tend to have some things in their vehicles.

If you leave things in a junk car, chances are you won’t ever see them again. If you’re able to reach and get to the junkyard, it could be too late.

In the best case, you might leave some CDs and knick-knacks that you won’t die without. What’s worse is leaving valuable things like jewelry, nice sunglasses, or expensive auto maintenance equipment. You might also want to take things you installed, such as car audio equipment.

In the worst case, you could leave personal documents in your car. Depending on what’s in there, people rummaging through the junkyard could even steal your identity. 

These are unfortunate and scary scenarios, but it’s easy to avoid them. All you have to do is make sure you take everything out of your car!

Check every single compartment, under the floor mats, and more for things that could have slipped into little nooks and crannies. You might consider taking car-related things like your spare tire or the mats themselves, too.

Some junk car buyers looking for scrap metal and wrecked car parts don’t have much use for those things. Others collect and sell them like they sell other car parts, so ask if you’d rather get money for them. Still, consider whether you might have a use for them before parting with your car.

Find a Car Buyer With a Good Reputation

Knowing the condition of your car, what it’s made of, what parts it has, and taking your items out of the car help you get the best value for your car. Yet, knowing all of these things won’t do anything for you if you deal with a shady company.

Always take a look at reviews of junk car buyers before doing business with them. Note that some people might be upset if they had an unrealistic expectation of their car’s worth. If a wrecked car buyer has a large number of negative reviews, there’s more to it than unrealistic expectations.

Don’t Fall Prey to Faulty Weighing

One dirty trick some scrapyards play is using inaccurate scales. They undervalue everything by using a scale that says items weigh less than they do.

To make sure you get a fair price at a scrapyard, ask for the scale’s certification. They should have a document proving their scale is legitimate. You could also ask them to put a standard weight on the scale to prove it works.

On the same note, make sure any scrap metal dealer you work with tells you how much your junk car scrap weighs, in pounds. If you don’t have the weight of your scrap, you can’t compare their offer to market value. Scrapyards use pricing per piece, per each, and other measurements to throw you off. 

If a scrapyard won’t tell you how much the scrap metal you bring in is worth in clear terms, don’t work with them!

An easy way to avoid these scams is by working with a different kind of business. You don’t have to worry about weight if you sell to a business that buys entire used cars instead of selling your wrecked car as scrap.

Make Money From Your Junk Car Today

Now that you know the basics of junking a wrecked car, you can start the process. You don’t need to brave a wrecked car auction or the scrapyard to get rid of your vehicle: We’re here to make junking it easy.

Get a free estimate for a better idea of how much your junk car is worth.

Once we have a deal, we tow your car for no cost and pay you on the spot. It’s that easy to get rid of your unwanted car, so what are you waiting for?

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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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