• Buying Guides

How to Junk a Car

By Michael O'Connor | May 9, 2022

Having an old car lying around can be a massive waste of space and an eyesore. Old, damaged vehicles can not only be an unwelcome addition to your driveway, but they can also leak fluids or become hiding places for pests if they are allowed to sit for too long. When this happens, selling it to a junkyard could be a great way to get your space back and remove the vehicle without going through the hassle of fixing it and selling it.

Whether the car was damaged in an accident, involved in a flood or fire, or is simply beyond the point where fixing it makes financial sense, junking it may be your only option. Fortunately, even if the vehicle is in terrible shape, you can usually at least get a little bit of cash for it. There are all kinds of uses for an old car, and a good salvage yard will understand its value and pay you accordingly.

It's best to know as much about it if you have a clunker in your driveway and want to get the best price at a yard that pays cash for junk cars.

1. Contact Salvage Yards

The first step you should take when trying to sell a scrap car is to get in touch with all the auto salvage yards in your area. In addition, any metal recycling centers in your area may also buy junk cars, so it's worth getting in touch with them. Next, get quotes from the different junk car removal services around you and see which ones give you the best cash offer. That will help you decide whether you need to shop around more or if you will be able to get a good deal in your local area.

You will need to provide the scrap yards you contact with some information about the junk car you are trying to sell. Have information handy such as the make and model and any details you know about the damage it has sustained. You may also have to give them information like the number of miles on the odometer and the vehicle identification number, or VIN. Giving the junkyard the most accurate possible information will help you get top dollar for your vehicle since there will be no surprises when the buyer gets to look at the actual car.

If a junkyard asks you to bring the car to the yard, you will most likely want to pass on them, especially if the vehicle isn't operational. The cost of towing the car to the yard will most likely cut into the price you are getting. Any good scrap yard will offer free towing and pick up for your junk vehicle and have someone come out to look at it before giving you a final offer.

2. Verify Junk Yard Licenses

When looking for an auto salvage yard to take your old vehicle, you should always ask about licenses and certifications. You want to be sure that your old car will be disposed of properly and responsibly. An irresponsible junkyard can not only cause problems for the environment, but it can also cause legal issues for you down the line. A licensed scrap yard will ensure that the transfer of ownership is done correctly and that you won't be liable for anything that happens to the vehicle after it leaves your possession.

It would be best if you also asked about the scale that will be used to weigh your vehicle. Most junkyards will pay you by the ton for your car, and you should make sure that the scale they are going to use is accurate. All weighing scales are different, and an unscrupulous junkyard may tamper with their scale to give you less for the car than you deserve. Check to make sure that the yard uses a certified weight scale and that it's as accurate as possible.

3. Check Junkyard Reviews Online

One of the best ways to find out if a junkyard is reputable is to read reviews by people who have used them in the past. People who have had a poor experience with a business will be very likely to write a review and let others know about it. The same goes if a junkyard offers exceptional customer service, so you should be able to figure out whether or not they deliver a good experience to their clients.

You should also look to see if a junkyard or metal recycling service has a solid online presence. If a company is not reputable or if they are not fully compliant with local laws and regulations, they will most likely not have much of a presence online. Look for social media pages and websites, and make sure that the yard you are considering has contact information and other online resources before you go with them.

Compare Junkyard Offers

You will need to do some math when figuring out if a junkyard or scrap metal salvage service will be your best bet for removing your old vehicle. If you want to get the most for your junk car, consider all the costs that may or may not be associated with getting rid of it.

That is especially important when it comes to getting the vehicle from your yard or driveway to the junkyard if the car doesn't run and drive.

If the junkyard you are selling the car to doesn't offer free junk car removal, you will need to factor in the cost of towing. Sometimes, a junkyard will also provide a free instant offer, which means that they will drive a tow truck over to the car's location and give you an offer on the spot.

Then, they will tow it away for free. However, because of the costs involved with this process, the offer may be lower than it would be if you had it towed to the yard yourself. That is why it's so crucial that you get a variety of quotes and that you do the required math to figure out what service will be best for your particular circumstances.

Prep Your Car To Be Junked

Once you have decided on a junkyard, you must prepare your car and remove any personal belongings that might be in it. Make sure you look in every nook and cranny of the vehicle and remove anything that may contain your address, phone number, or other important identifying information. While this may seem obvious, there are many places in your vehicle that are easy to forget when checking for possessions.

Some of the places that are easy to forget about include:

  • Glove Box: Your glove box may contain important documents such as registration and title information.

  • Trunk: Your trunk may have hidden compartments with jumper cables or other vital tools that you will want to keep for your new car.

  • Center Console: Ensure that your center console is empty and that you have cleared it of any trash or manuals you may have kept there.

  • Under the Seats: The area under your seats is significant to check, and essential items can easily be hidden in the space.

  • Door and Seat Pockets: Many cars have pockets behind the seats and cubby holes inside the doors, which are often overlooked when cleaning.

Consider Selling Your Car's Parts Individually (Parting Out)

One of the alternative options available to you when trying to get rid of a junk car is to part it out. Since you will most likely be getting the value of your vehicle based on its weight, you might not be getting the full value of some of the individual parts.

Depending on the condition of some of the parts, you could end up making much more money selling them on their own than you would by selling the car as a whole. However, this will also take more time and effort and may not be worth it in the long run.

Some of the most valuable parts of your car include the catalytic converter, the alternator, and the window glass. It's best to do some research and find out what these parts are worth in your area and what condition they need to be in to get top value.

Then, you can sell them on online marketplaces like Craigslist or eBay, or you can even participate in a local swap meet. In some cases, these parts can be worth more individually than the entirety of the car's value.

Grab All Your Paperwork

You will need proper documentation to sell your scrap car to a junkyard. In some cases, you can sell the vehicle without paperwork, but you will almost certainly get less for it than you would with all the correct documents. You will usually have to have some proof of ownership, which is generally in the form of the car title. To transfer ownership to the buyer, you will have to bring this with you to the junkyard.

If you don't have the title handy, you can usually get a duplicate at your local department of motor vehicles. However, you may have to go to the DMV anyway to surrender your license plates since the car will be scrapped. Talk to the junkyard you are selling the vehicle to find out their requirements for the documentation, and make sure you have all of them if you want to get the best offer.

Finalize the Junkyard Sale

Once you've settled on a junkyard and have all your paperwork together, you can proceed with the sale. If the yard offers pickup, schedule a time for them to come and get the vehicle. If you are coordinating your own tow, make sure the yard knows when you will be arriving so they can be ready for you.

Once the car gets to the junkyard, they will want to inspect it and make sure that it matches the offer they gave you. It's also a good opportunity for you to let them know if it still has any valuable parts, like the alternator or catalytic converter. They may be willing to add some more money to the original offer. Once the price has been agreed upon, you will transfer the ownership and walk away with a check or cash. It'll depend on the junkyard and how much they give you for your junk car.

Your Other Options

If you don't want to sell your vehicle to a junkyard, there are other options. Many charities will take old cars to fund their programs if you wish to donate. In many cases, these donations are tax-deductible and can be worth more than the cash you might get at a yard.

In some cases, you can even trade your scrap car at a dealership if you want to buy a new car. Some dealerships offer something called "push, pull, or drag" programs and will offer a minimum trade-in value if you bring your vehicle to them. These can sometimes be worth more than the vehicle's cash value and will be a better deal for you in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Once you have junked your scrap car, you will need to follow up with the DMV and ensure the ownership transfer has gone through. If the transfer doesn't happen, you could be financially liable if the vehicle is abandoned or stolen. Call the DMV after two weeks to ensure that the yard transferred the title to their name. In most states, title transfers need to happen within 30 days. If it hasn't been done by then, contact the junkyard and request that they do it as soon as possible.

Having a junk car can be stressful if it's taking up space in your driveway or is causing an eyesore in your neighborhood. Fortunately, selling a car for scrap is a relatively straightforward process that doesn't require too much work on your part. By understanding what you need to do to get the most value for your old car, you can make the deal work for you and get some extra cash.