General Factors That Affect a Junkyard's Offer
Let’s start by looking at some of the factors that a junkyard must take into consideration when determining the value of any vehicle that appears on its lot.
The Current Market Price of Scrap Metal
Junkyards take steel, aluminum, copper and other metal from your junk car and sell it to scrap metal dealers for cash. In turn, the scrap metal dealers sell the metal to manufacturers who recycle it into car parts, building materials, and other items we use every day.
The amount that the manufacturer pays the scrap metal dealer depends on the current market rate of scrap metal which determines how much the scrap metal dealer will pay the junkyard. Ergo, the current market rate of scrap metal affects a junkyard’s cash offer for your junk car.
The current market price of scrap metal depends on a few things, but most importantly, it’s determined by supply and demand: the more scrap metal there is on the market, the lower the value.
The Cost of Labor
Once a junkyard acquires your vehicle, they strip, dismantle, and crush the vehicle. This takes time and labor, and time is money. Before they crush your vehicle, junkyards employ auto dismantlers who specifically disassemble a junk car to acquire the most valuable parts.
They test and examine each part and component in a vehicle to determine if it can be reused in a future vehicle. In addition, all the fluids and unusable parts must be removed and legally disposed of. These fluids may include gasoline, oil, transmission fluid, Freon from the air conditioner, coolant in the radiator, wiper fluid, and brake fluid.
Later we will discuss how you can take care of some of this before your vehicle goes to the junkyard in an effort to get the best possible cash offer.
Transporting the Vehicle, if Applicable
Since most junk cars are not in working condition, most junkyards have special equipment including flatbeds that can transport your vehicle, no matter the condition, to their facility. In most cases, the junkyard will charge for the removal and transport of your vehicle.
For this reason, it is helpful to search for junkyards that are close to where your vehicle is located. Better yet, if you can tow or drive in the vehicle yourself, this will increase your cash offer as it saves the junkyard both time and money.
The Interior & Exterior Condition of the Vehicle
You might think the condition of your vehicle doesn’t matter since they’ll strip your car and eventually crush it. However, considering that about 80% of a vehicle can be recycled, every part potentially has value.
Whether they are used for other vehicles of the same model or if they’re used for scrap metal, the condition of all the parts matter. Taking care of minor dings and dents can increase how many parts are easily re-usable.
Rust takes away from the value of any parts. The more “road worthy” your car is, the better your cash offer will be. The more work that needs to be done at the junkyard, the less your offer will be.
A junkyard cannot buy your vehicle if you are not able to produce the title for it. They are not legally allowed to purchase a vehicle from anyone but the owner. In other words, do not show up to a junkyard without the vehicle’s title (see “Frequently Asked Questions” for some exceptions).
In addition, familiarize yourself with laws in the state where you’re selling your junk car. Lemon laws protect buyers against mileage tampering which is punishable by law. If you have a vehicle you’re bringing to a junkyard and its odometer stopped working through no fault of your own, which has happened, you must indicate that on the title and let the junkyard know.