Car Scrap Prices and Your Junk Car’s Value

junk car prices

Nearly everyone, at least once in their life, has ended up with a car that needs to be scrapped. Maybe you’ve been driving an old clunker that finally met its end.

Or maybe you were simply in a bad car accident and your car was totaled.

And while thankfully you’re okay, your car isn’t.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t earn some money by getting rid of your car. Because you can sell it for scrap. And if you’re considering scrapping your old car, it’s important to know the scrap prices of today.

Because what you don’t know when you get rid of your car can mean money out of your wallet.

So here’s what you need to know about the current scrap prices of today.

How Do Scrap Prices Affect the Value of my Junk Car?

Scrap cars tend to be sold by the ton. Some places often tie-in bulk metal rates with junk car rates.

No matter where you sell your car, you’ll need the following information to get the best deal on scrap prices.

  • Year
  • Make
  • Model

Knowing your mileage and any damage done to your car will also help us come up with the most accurate price possible.

And while rules vary from state to state, you’ll want to bring a copy of your registration and your title. Also important to note is that if you still owe money on your car, you cannot sell it for scrap until it’s fully paid off.

It’s also a smart idea to do some research on how much your car weighs before you come in. It will help you understand how much you can possibly get for your car.

Understanding Scrap Prices

When it comes to figuring out how much you can receive for your car, it’s important to understand current scrap prices.

But did you know that scrap prices vary throughout the country? And even the world? And that those prices are changing all the time?

Or that metals are commodities which mean that their prices are changing all the time? And that if you want to follow scrap pricing trends in real time, you’ll need to pay for an online subscription service?

Luckily, we have some numbers from those services dated September 2018.

From Scrap Monster


  • Structural Steel $345
  • Shredded Auto Scrap $365
  • Sheet Metal $265
  • HMS 80/20 $310
  • #1 HMS $345
  • #1 Busheling $390
  • #1 Bundle $380

From Scrap Register


  • Steel Casting $366
  • #1/#2 HMS 80/20 $354
  • #1 HMS $364

How to Determine the Price of Your Car Using Its Weight & Scrap Prices

The average car weighs about 4,000 pounds. That’s including your typical passenger vehicles which are cars, trucks, vans, and SUV’s. About 55% of that weight comes from steel.

Once you know the weight of your car in tons, you can then multiply whatever the per ton price happens to be by the actual tonnage.

What that amounts to is about one metric ton of steel that has value. But did you know that same car also holds about 330 pounds of aluminum?

And also copper and iron? All of which are also worth something.

Why is the Metal Market So Volatile?

Metal prices change constantly and they can also change drastically.

Why? It all has to do with global economics. When countries begin to build, like China did in 2010, they buy up tons of steel. They bought so much it brought up the demand. But their demand outpaced production. The result was record high steel prices.

Today China is still producing steel but isn’t using it. The result? They sometimes sell steel to the U.S. and other countries at a loss.

The Oil and Steel Markets Reflect One Another

Another reason why the steel markets rise and fall is due to their close alliance with the oil industry.

Thanks to this relationship, steel prices are actually rebounding since U.S. oil and gas production has been increasing recently.

Why Do Scrap Prices Matter When Selling Your Car?

The value of your car changes throughout its lifetime. The value also changes if a car has been in an accident. But that doesn’t mean those old cars hold no value. Nor does it mean that a recently totaled car will have no value.

They both do.

Here’s why:

  • A new or rare car that has been wrecked can often be repaired. They can also retain some utility and value.
  • Newer, low mileage, and very desirable cars that have been totaled also still hold some value.

Why? Because if you have one car that’s wrecked but has good mechanics and another car that’s broken down and has bad mechanics you can create one good car out of them.

What Parts Have the Highest Scrap Prices?

While steel makes up the majority of metal used in a car, it’s far from being the only metal. And steel is definitely not the only metal that holds value. Scrap prices also include the following metals.


While aluminum may seem weak, cast aluminum is found all over your car. It’s used within the engine and makes up the rims of the car, doors, and hoods. And aluminum is valuable.

January 2017 prices for aluminum:


  • 356 Aluminum Wheels (Clean) $0.59
  • 1100 Scrap $0.58, 3003 Scrap $0.58
  • 6061 Extrusions $0.53
  • 5052 Scrap $0.55
  • Al/Cu Radiators $1.03
  • Al/Cu Radiators /Fe $0.87
  • 6063 Extrusions $0.60
  • Aluminum Transformers $0.10
  • Aluminum Radiators /Fe $0.25
  • Aluminum Radiators $0.42
  • Litho Sheets $0.59
  • MLC Clips $0.55
  • Painted Siding  $0.53
  • Zorba 90% NF $0.51
  • UBC $0.46
  • Old Sheet $0.4
  • Old Cast $0.50
  • Mixed Aluminum Turnings $0.25
  • E.C. Aluminum Wire $0.75
  • Breakage 50% Recovery $0.11


Copper is used for electronics, wiring harness, and the battery. It’s also found through the car’s safety system, radio, computer and within the starters and alternators.

January 2017 prices for copper:


  • #1 Copper Bare Bright $2.34
  • Alternator $0.37
  • #1 Insulated Copper Wire 85% Recovery $1.62
  • #1 Copper Wire and Tubing $2.26
  • #2 Copper Wire and Tubing  $2.12
  • #2 Insulated Copper Wire 50% Recovery $0.86
  • #3 Copper – Light Copper $2.02
  • Cu Yokes $0.60
  • Copper Transformer Scrap  $0.38
  • Copper Radiators $1.41
  • Cu/Al Radiators $1.03
  • Cu/Al Radiators /Fe $0.87
  • Cu/Al Radiator Ends $0.53
  • Romex® Wire $1.24
  • Heater Cores $1.17
  • Harness Wire 35% Recovery $0.81
  • Xmas Lights $0.23
  • Starters $0.29
  • Sealed Units $0.18
  • Scrap Electric Motors $0.19

Stainless Steel

Most often found in the exhaust. The best way to check is to try to stick a magnet to it.

If it doesn’t stick it’s probably stainless steel.

January 2017 prices for stainless steel:


  • 201 SS $0.24
  • 301 SS $0.28
  • 304 SS Turning $0.25
  • 304 SS Solid $0.43
  • 330 SS $1.10
  • 316 SS Solid $0.62
  • 310 SS $0.86
  • 309 SS $0.62


Here’s where you’ll most likely find lead:

  • Wheel Weights: Usually found on the aluminum rims.
  • The Battery: Sounds weird, but your car’s battery is actually lead based.

January 2017 prices for lead:


  • Soft Lead $0.61
  • Scrap Auto Batteries $0.28
  • Lead-Solid Lead $0.56
  • Lead Wheel Weights $0.33

Platinum and Palladium

Found more commonly in cars than most people realize, these metals are found within the catalytic converter.

They are also really valuable metals and they’re difficult to process separately.

January 2017 prices for platinum and palladium were unavailable.

What Car Components Have Value?

It’s not just the metal portions of your car that hold value. There are plenty of other features that can help you get more money when you sell your car to us.

Features like:

  • GPS System
  • Wheels, Tires, & Rims
  • Bumpers
  • Doors
  • Air Bags
  • Air Conditioning
  • Windshield Wiper Arms
  • Tailgates
  • Radio
  • Motor Oil & Oil Filters
  • Catalytic Converters
  • Fenders

But if you’re really looking to make some big bucks, these next components hold the highest resale value of all.


Remember that the battery does contain lead, so you can get money for that. But you can also sell your used battery to someone with the same make and model as you.

Used batteries can often be sold for $15-$25.

If your battery is completely dead you also have the option of recycling it. Most recycling programs will give you a $10 gift certificate in exchange for the dead battery.


Depending upon what metals are found in your radiator, you could make as much as $1 per pound by selling it for scraps. Or if your radiator is still in good condition you can sell it on its own for $30-$75.


If your tires are still in good shape, they can fetch up to $50 per tire. Even damaged tires that can be repaired might be worth as much as $10.

If Scrap Prices Fall, Should I Wait to Junk My Car?

When the prices of steel and other metals are low, you’re not going to get the best price for your car. Especially if you try to sell it yourself.

But you will get a better deal if you:

  • Sell it By the Part: As you know, certain parts are still valuable even when the price of metals gets low. So you can still make money off your car by selling the more valuable parts.
  • Hold Onto the Car: You can always wait until metal prices rise again or until you find the right buyer for your car.
  • Sell Your Car to Us: The time is always right to sell your car to us. You’ll always get the best value for your car here, no matter what the price of steel is at.

And don’t forget that a drivable car is worth more. But if yours doesn’t work, we’ll be happy to pick it up for you no matter where you live. For free!

Contact us today for a free quote on your car.

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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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