Let’s be real:
Car junk yards don’t have the best reputation, right?
Most people think they are shady and are out to scam them, and often times that’s the case.
But I’m here to help you steer clear of the bad ones and deal with the good auto junk yards.
But there are some that will try to make a quick buck at your expense if you don’t look out for your own interests when you’re selling your car for salvage or scrap.
Here are the top 7 scams shady auto junk yards try to pull:
Not many consumers have extensive experience in dealing with auto junk yards or getting cash for their junk cars. If you’ve always traded your cars in when you bought a new one, or sold your car on Craigslist, you might never have sold your old car for scrap or for parts to a auto junk yard, and be unfamiliar with the process entirely. To help you get the most for your junk car, we’ve compiled a list of the 7 top scams that unscrupulous junk yards attempt on novice car sellers.
1. Using Fly-By-Night Haulers
The auto junk yard may be the ultimate destination for your old car, but it will probably be towed there on a flatbed wrecker. Not all junk yards have their own towing service, and many hire any tow truck driver available when your car needs towing to their yard. Be especially cautious if you’re supposed to be paid in cash for your car. If the truck driver says that upon inspection, your car is worth less than they estimated, inform him that the deal is off and find another junk yard to do business with.
Another favorite tactic of fly-by-night tow operators is to give you the check from the scrap yard for your car, but demand that you pay them in cash for the tow, even though they’re being paid by the junk yard already. If you’re not offered the same deal you agreed to on the phone with junk yard, call them immediately, and don’t let the tow truck driver put your car on the hook until everything is settled to your satisfaction.
2. No Transfer of Title
When you sell your car to a auto junk yard, you have to sign over the title for the car to make the transaction legal. The title to your car is related to the registration, but it’s not the same thing. If you don’t cancel the registration on your car in a timely fashion, you could be liable for anything that happens to the car after it’s already been hauled away. Some dishonest jun yards promise to handle the paperwork necessary to cancel or transfer the registration of your car, but later send you a bill for storing your car at their lot. A collection notice and a threat to report the bill to a credit-reporting agency often accompany this bill. That’s why it always pays to take care of the registration paperwork yourself, and take the plates off of your car before it’s towed away.
Also make sure to vet anyone that will buy your car without a title. While it’s not impossible it gets a little tricker.
3. Bait and Switch
When you negotiate for a price on your junk car, you should be totally honest in describing the condition of the car, and supply pictures of it if requested. You should also demand that the auto junk yard keep their part of the bargain just as closely. Unscrupulous auto junk yards will often agree to one price, and then offer you a much lower price when they show up to tow your car away. Never sign over the title to your car until you have a reliable check in the correct amount in your hand first.
4. Delayed Payment
Under no circumstances should you allow any auto junk yard tow operator take your car away, or even put it on the tow hook, until you’ve been paid in full for the agreed amount. Once your car is out of your possession, you probably have nothing in writing that guarantees how much you’ll be paid for your car, and if you have a dispute with the yard over the agreed amount, they can charge you for towing and storage if you force them to return the car to end the deal. That could end up costing you more than the car is worth. Showing up without the payment in hand is another version of the bait and switch.
5. Subtracting the Cost of Towing From Your Deal
Unless you agreed to deliver the car to the junk yard, the price you were quoted should include towing. The majority of cars that are sold to the junkyard are not in running condition, and towing the car is expected. Never pay towing charges directly to the tow driver, either, as we explained in fly-by-night hauler scams.
6. Valuing Your Car at Zero
You should get at least three quotes on the value of your junk car, just do a google search like this one. It’s better to stop dealing with shady dealers immediately when you suspect they’re taking advantage of you. The most common form of dishonest appraisals of a car is telling you that your car isn’t worth anything, but they’ll take it away for free to do you a favor. Even an abandoned car that has been rusting in the woods for decades has value as scrap metal, and your car is probably worth much more. Anyone that tells you your car is worthless to see if you’ll go for it shouldn’t be trusted. Find other junk yards to do business with.
7. Worthless Free Prizes
Shady businesses try to hide the actual amount of money in the deals they make by adding in extraneous offers, or by giving you vague estimates that depend on inspections of your car. It’s extremely important to have a firm quote of the value of your car before you agree to have it picked up, and make the scrap yard stick to it no matter what.
Many junk yards are now being gathered under the umbrella of larger Internet clearinghouses, and these businesses offer customers non-cash enticements to choose them over other junk yards. The most common form of these offers is a coupon good for cruises or other kinds of vacations. It’s only after they have your car at below-market rates that you’ll discover that the coupons don’t save you any money, but instead require you to pay above-market rates for at least part of your vacation. Other coupons have so many restrictions on the travel dates that you’ll probably never get a chance to use them. In all cases, it’s smarter to tell the junkyard that you want a hard number for your car and a printed check in the full amount in your hand, and that you’ll pay for your own vacations.