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Scrap Car Prices: How Much is Your Junk Car Worth?

Updated on May 21, 2018
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Marc is President at Cash Auto Salvage, a nationwide car buying company.

If you drive a used vehicle, you may be faced with a situation which requires you to scrap it. People often overlook the opportunity to scrap their vehicle because they are focused on finding a new vehicle, making arrangements for transportation in the meantime, or handling medical issues that have come from a crash.

Depending on what vehicle you drive, you could be missing out on a lot of money if you just leave that old junker in the yard. Before you're faced with the task of scrapping or getting rid of your old car, you should take the time to research your local scrap car prices.

Here's a guide to the scrapping your car.

When You May Need to Scrap

If your car is still functioning you may be faced with the question of whether you should sell it, scrap it, or keep it.

There are a number of financial factors to consider when faced with this problem. The first thing you should do is assess the amount of money that you are spending on your car regularly.

Keep tabs on how much you spend on repairs, oil changes, and any other maintenance that you need to spend money on. Tally up a monthly average and consider that your "car payment."

What is your car actually worth? If you're spending 200 dollars a month on repairs, and your vehicle is only worth around 1,000 dollars, would it be better to unload your beater and buy a quality car that has a payment of only 150 a month?

What do you do with your previous car in that situation? You may need to make some repairs and tune it up before you sell it, but how much would that put you back? If the car needs a new transmission, brake pads, tires, and windshield, you might be looking at paying nearly what the car is worth.

Research your car's scrap value and you might find that you'll make more money by simply scrapping it.

Another thing to look at is the long-term financial benefits of buying a new car. Sure, you'll be paying less monthly for this new car, but you're going to have payments for at least a few years.

A lot of dealerships offer free maintenance if you're making payments on a new car. Depending on your habits and the car that you choose, that could save you thousands of dollars over a few years.

Additionally, take a comparative look at your current car and prospective car's mileage. Depending on your commute, you may find that you'll save nearly the amount of your previous car's repair costs.

It may be that you have an old car that you want to get rid of. It's been sitting in the garage for five years and you've just gotten used to the fact that it's sitting there. No one's buying it, but you don't really mind that it's taking up space.

Scrapping is a relatively easy way to get that vehicle off of your hands.

There are other considerations to make as well. If the car holds a lot of sentimental value to you and your family, you may find it best to make the repairs and pass it along to a close family friend or relative.

There's also the financial issue. If you're weighing the pros and cons of scrapping a vehicle, you may not have the money to go out and buy a brand new car. It's important to do whatever makes the most sense at the moment, and not run out and scrap your car for a cool 300 bucks.

There are a number of different situations in which scrapping a car is a viable option. Whether or not you find yourself in one of those situations, keep in the back of your mind that scrapping is always a possibility. Use the following information to get an idea of what your scrapped car would be worth.

What You Need to Know About Your Car

The first thing that you need to do before scrapping is have your title in order. The junkyard will need your car's title in order for the transaction to be official. Having the title in hand will prevent you from experiencing legal complications.

Some junkyards won't require that you have a title. You should try and give it over to them even if they don't require one. If your car is scrapped and still in your name, you could be open to liability issues.

That leads to the next point, which is that you must cancel your insurance before scrapping. Essentially, anything you would do if you were going to sell the car is something that you should do before scrapping.

Different states have different requirements concerning scrapping vehicles. Some, for example, don't require you to hand over the title in order to scrap. For that reason, it's difficult to give definitive advice on how to prepare the paperwork before a scrap.

Contact your local DMV and see what they have to say. They will have insight into the specifics of your situation. They'll consider things like year, make, and model and give you a rundown on what you need to do in order to scrap the vehicle legally.

There is one way to entirely avoid paperwork being involved in your scrap. This would require you to entirely strip down the vehicle and sell each part individually. While it's difficult, it is certainly possible.

You may a higher sum overall if you do this, but it would require a significant amount of time and effort. Locating places willing to buy your car's specific parts may not be worth the small amount of extra money you'd receive.

Before you scrap a car, you'll want to know it's value in the scrap yard. Having a clear idea of your vehicle's worth will help you to avoid being shorted at the yard. The first things you'll need to know are the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

Those pieces of information will tell you what kinds of materials your car is composed of. Different cars are composed of different metals and pieces of technology, and those things can vary in price depending on the time and location.

Special Car Components

Different cars are equipped with unique stock features. In a lot of newer cars, these features can be worth quite a bit. Alternatively, if you have a classic car, there are likely to be people with the same car who are missing specific parts.

Classic and older cars are full of these features that are in high demand. There are plenty of online forums that deal in classic car parts. Before you rule anything out, take a look around online and see if your car has any specific parts that are in high demand.

You may have made some additions to your car as well. These could vary from high-quality replacement parts to personalized sound systems.

When looking into the parts of your car and their value, consider going to an auto shop and having a professional look through your vehicle. You would be surprised at the value that you could get out of specific parts that you hadn't even considered.

If you were to bring your car to get scrapped, there's little chance that the yard would have the technology or knowledge to identify value in obscure replacement parts. On the other hand, if you were to identify these parts, separate them from the vehicle, and sell them, you may find that the value of those parts outweighs the value of the scrap!

Never scrap your car without separating any modifications that you have made to it. Any head decks, speakers, or receivers that were installed after the purchase are likely to hold a lot of resale value.

Scrap Car Prices

The value of your scrapped car will depend on the materials that it is composed of. Further, it will depend on the value of those materials in your area. Metal prices are extremely volatile, meaning that their value changes all of the time.

Your car is likely made up of large amounts of steel, aluminum. In fact, over half of a car's weight is typically composed of steel.

The car is also home to a lot of copper, which is the conductor in much of its electrical work. All of the metals contained in the car have value.

The reason that the market fluctuates so much is that the value of metals is often dependent on other markets that require those metals.

For example, when there is a lot of production in the oil industry, more steel is needed. Because companies need steel to produce machinery to mine oil, they are willing to pay more for it as the quantity of available steel diminishes. In those time, your solid-steel beater, the one that gets 2 miles to the gallon, is going to be earning you some pretty sweet cash.

The same thing happens when other countries begin developing at large scales. Some legislation, initiative, or movement in the Far East could result in a higher demand for aluminum, copper, and steel. These factors are always subject to change, so it's important to keep an eye on the market when you're thinking of scrapping.

Ultimately, in order to get a grasp on the scrap car prices of your vehicles, you'll need to do some quick research into the components of your car. There's no catch-all price for cars of specific years, makes, or models.

There is also value in having a car that is still salvageable. Not all yards will scrap your car for the metal. They may see if they can repair or sell parts of your car for a profit.

As you can see, there are a number of elements that go into getting an accurate price on a scrapped car.

Where to Scrap

There are likely numerous scrap yards in your area. Your best bet is to do a google search for "scrap yards in my area." Contact a few of the yards closest to you and get estimates.

It's definitely worth the time to shop around and choose the yard that is going to give you the highest amount for your car. If there's a yard that is a lot closer put less profitable, see if you can get a quote from a higher paying yard and leverage it against the closer yard's price. They may lower the price to get your business, saving you some time.

There are also a lot of internet resources that help you identify the value of your car. These sites are usually good avenues for finding companies that buy unusable cars. In fact, many of this sites both give you a quote and the option of selling your car to them.

These online, mass-purchasing sites often have set prices for specific cars. While these sites are convenient, they may still be your best option to make the most amount of money possible.

There are horror stories of cars being scrapped for 100 dollars or less. These sites maintain a decent name by not giving those ultra-low rates. You'll get a decent amount of money for your vehicle.

Scrap yards are liable to being manipulative with their offers. The individual may see that you are in need of the money and undercut you. Websites do not have that issue, as they operate on principles on bottom lines, most being firm.

© 2018 Marc Skirvin

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