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5 Reasons Why an Auto Salvager Will Pay More for Your Used Car

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Reason 1. A Dealership Will Give You the Bare Minimum

Trading in your car at the dealership is an easy way to sell it, especially if you are planning to buy a new one. But this convenience comes at a cost. Dealers understand the huge benefit of turning over the keys and being done with it.

This is such a prevalent dynamic that researchers at the University of Southern California looked into it. They found that dealers recognize that people trading in their vehicles are looking for an easy swap and push for higher prices for the new vehicle. The study showed that, on average, people trading in their cars paid $990 more for their new one than those who were not trading in one.

There are many other consumer studies showing that dealerships will give you less for your car than other sales methods. This is because, by the nature of their jobs, auto dealers know precisely how much they can get on the resale of a vehicle. And, while you may be able to negotiate with them a little bit, there may will probably not be much wiggle rooms.

Another thing to consider with a dealership is what kind of shape your car is in. If it is having any problems the dealer knows that they will have to get it in tip-top before reselling it. You can bet that that tire pressure indicator light is going to cost you when the check is written.

With an auto salvager, they are not trying to sell you anything. Their incentive is to make a good offer for the car, depending on what they can use it for. So, if they plan to recycle it for parts, that same TPMS light will not affect their offer at all. 

Reason 2. Selling Your Car on Your Own Is a Lot of Work

With so many options for selling products online these days, it can be tempting to try to sell your car on your own. Through things like online forums or social media, you can access a much wider audience than you could 15 or 20 years ago. And you are almost certain to make more money than you wood forking it over at the dealership.

But, unlike the convenience of the dealership, you should plan on a lot of hassle and headache. You will likely spend a lot of time fielding questions from prospective buyers. And you will need to coordinate their visits to inspect the vehicle.  

Also, you will have to set up test drives, which can be nerve-wracking and even dangerous. The internet may offer a wider audience, but this means you have no idea who is coming to drive around in your car. Besides riding with strangers, the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic presents challenges in this regard as well.

And people are leery about buying costly items secondhand. If there are any insignificant issues with the car, it may be hard to find a buyer. In short, selling your car on your own will involve a lot of work for only a little more money than what a trade-in would have gotten you.

Auto salvaging is a quick and seamless process. There is no negotiating with dozens of potential buyers. Once you find the right auto salvage company, it is only a matter of transporting the vehicle, doing some basic paperwork, and signing over the title.

For an added convenience, there are online sites that can gather instant quotes from a network of auto salvage yards in your area. It makes the process simpler and eliminates all the work of searching for potential buyers. 

Reason 3. Major Repairs Outweigh the Benefits

Vehicles are better built and lasting much longer these days. You might now expect a car to be a reliable form of transportation for well over 10 years, or even closer to 20. And major repairs like transmissions and engine overhauls can keep cars running for a long time.

But major repairs are expensive, and there is always a level of diminishing returns. At some point, you may feel like those thousands of dollars are better spent on a new vehicle, or for other purposes.

At the same time, your car may not be that old and otherwise in good shape. But you may feel that you have to address that major issue in order to sell it. If not, you will be at a particular disadvantage.

This is where an auto salvager comes in. Unlike dealerships or individuals, salvage shops will want your car for the parts that are working, regardless of which ones are not. This makes your vehicle is much more marketable for them than with other potential buyers.

Selling to a salvage yard helps you avoid spending thousands of dollars on major repairs or the hassle of having to address minor warning lights. They will take it “as is,” so you get the most bang for your buck.

And, if your car is not running, do not worry. Salvage yards are used to picking up cars that are undrivable.

You may have to reach some kind of informal agreement with them, and some may want you to pay for the wrecker service. But this is a nominal cost compared to what you will get in return.

Reason 4. An Auto Salvager Uses All Parts of the Vehicle

The salvaging of used car parts and reconstituting them for selling is no small enterprise. The automobile recycling industry in the United States supports $32 billion in sales every year and employs more than 140,000 people.

There are many factors that salvage shops will take into account when buying your vehicle. Each will have to do with what parts they might be able to reclaim and sell, or the prospect of them reconstituting the vehicle as a whole.

Make and Model

The make and model of your car matters for two reasons, both of which have to do with how rare your vehicle is. The first is that, like other buyers, the salvage yard may be interested in how much they could resell the car for. What it will cost for them to fix it up will impact this bottom line.

The second aspect is the opposite: how valuable are parts of your car that they could sell to other people with that same make and model vehicle. More unique cars have components that are harder to find. This can be enticing for an auto salvager.

But common vehicles can be of value as well. Since their parts are more frequently sought after, this means there is more demand. In this case, it will just depend on what the auto salvager has on hand and what they may be in the market for.


The age of your car will be a factor as well. Like anything else, the newer it is, the better. 

But there are some exceptions. One is that, if your car is quite old, then parts will be scarcer. Like a unique car, this is a matter of supply and demand.

Even if your car is older and seems to have few valuable components to it, remember that you probably have had many things replaced on it. If you did not keep a record of repairs, it might be worth contacting your mechanic to see if they can provide these. An approximate date when you had those new brake lines put in could help in negotiating a sale price.

Value of Scrap Metal

The current price of scrap metal also will have an impact on how much you can get for your car. Your vehicle most likely contains several hundred pounds of aluminum and a few thousand pounds of steel. And most vehicles contain copper wiring for stereo systems and other electronics.

Your car also may also contain lead, in the battery or in parts of the frame. And your catalytic converter likely contains platinum, a metal that is rarer than gold and very valuable.

Very basically, the auto salvager removes all of the car parts they can use, then the rest of the car is sold for scrap metal. How much these metals are worth will depend on the condition they are in, as well as their current value.

While you cannot control the market for scrap metal, you might be able to do a little research to see when prices for these products are up. It is not the only reason auto scrapers buy cars, but it is a consistent variable that determines how much they will pay for one.

Reason 5. Recycling Vehicles Helps the Environment

One of the reasons salvage shops are becoming more popular with people looking to sell a good used car is the idea of recycling a vehicle for better uses. There are both anti-waste and environmental aspects of this.

More than 25 million tons of material is recycled from vehicles every year. Reusing anything saves energy over having to produce a brand new one from scratch. Doing so with vehicle parts is no different.

The processes involved in producing things like steel and aluminum are very energy-intensive. This includes the metallurgic procedures for forming the car parts, as well as extracting the raw material from the earth.

Selling your vehicle to an auto salvager contributes to the reuse of car parts and these scrap metals. It conserves materials, energy, and is good for the environment.

Before You Sell…

There are only a few things to do before you begin your search for an auto salvager. First, make sure you have the car title handy. You will not be able to sell your vehicle without it.

The title will most likely have the vehicle identification number (VIN) on it, although you can find it on the car frame itself. Having this may help expedite the quote process.

You will also want to make sure that you remove all personal items from the vehicle. And you will need to remove the license place before selling the vehicle. But you may want to leave it on there until you are completely finished driving the car.

Finally, check the Kelly Blue Book value of your car. It is good to have a ballpark of what your car is worth before you begin negotiating its sale.

Find a Salvage Yard

Now that you have an idea of some of the advantages of using an auto salvager and the potential for getting the most money for your car, you can start looking for one today. There are many salvage yards in your area. It is just a matter of matching up the right one with your particular vehicle. 

At Cash Auto Salvage, we have a loyal, nationwide network of auto salvage yards. By entering a few details about your vehicle, you can have a quote in minutes, with no obligations. Take a look at our online reviews and see what others are saying.

Also, check out our definitive guide on selling your car, truck, or SUV. It gives tips for navigating the selling process and outlines some of the things you can do to maximize the sale value of your vehicle.

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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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