Before hiring a junk car removal service there are things you need to know. Junk car removal services are the best way to get rid of motor vehicles that can no longer be driven safely on the roads. The most common reason people need a junk car removal service is mechanical failure. According to Statista, In 2021 there were 43.1 million used cars sold compared to 15.3 new cars sold, and used vehicles are more likely to reach the end of their life while on residential property.
Other consumers need junk car removal services because they want to sell a salvage vehicle or recovered stolen vehicle for scrap. Salvage vehicles and vehicles totaled by insurance are typically recycled by the insurance company, but the vehicle owner can choose to retain the vehicle if they think they can get more out of it on their own.
This is also becoming more common because traffic accidents and car thefts are on the rise. According to the New York Times, vehicle accidents have increased more dramatically than they have since the 1940s when vehicle use skyrocketed. Meanwhile, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that there were 932,329 vehicles reported stolen in 2020 throughout the US, a significant increase from previous years.
Regardless of why you need junk car removal services, choosing a service is an important decision. Understanding how the junk car industry works, how and when junk cars are recycled, and the junk car removal process are also important for a positive experience. Not all junk car removal services are legitimate or reputable, and it is important to know your rights and the responsibilities of the service to protect yourself from scams.
Junk car removal is a vital endeavor for protecting the environment, but when junk cars are not recycled properly the junk car removal service could be doing more harm than good. Reusable materials and metals in junk cars decrease strain on natural resources, but improper disposal of nonrecyclable parts of the vehicle negates this environmental benefit. These 10 things to know before hiring a junk car removal service encompass all you need to know to profitably and properly dispose junk vehicles.
1. Choose a Reputable Junk Car Removal Service
Choosing a reputable junk car removal service is the first step in ensuring that you have a positive experience. To avoid junk car removal scams and bait-and-switch cash offers for junk cars, make sure that the removal service is licensed, reputable, and backs their claims with certifications from junk car industry leaders. In addition to asking for references, there are 3 ways that you can check the reputability of a junk car removal service.
Check that the junk car removal service is licensed
Different states, counties, and cities have varying laws regulating junk car removal services. Every locale has laws that apply to licensing and insurance for any business regardless of industry, even when no other junk car removal licensing laws exist. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to ensure that the junk car buyer is in good standing and in compliance with all licensing and insurance requirements.
Check the reputation of the junk car removal service
The reputation of a junk car removal service is fairly easy to judge once you have gathered all of the necessary information. The best place to start is the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can check to see if the junk car removal service is accredited by the BBB, read reviews, and take a look at complaints. A few complaints do not necessarily mean that the service is disreputable. Review what actions, if any, were taken as a result and whether or not the matter was resolved equitably.
It is also important to look at more than one site for online reviews of the junk car removal service. You should find a mix of reviews on Google, Yelp, and other online directories. The more reviews a junk car removal service has, the more experienced they are and the more reliable they will be. However, a junk car removal service with all 5 star reviews or only a handful of reviews is an indicator of little experience, and perhaps solicited reviews. Take all reviews with a grain of salt and consider them as a whole to get a clearer picture of the reputability of a junk car removal service.
Look for junk car industry certifications
There are various industry leaders and associations that offer guidelines for junk car removal services and the auto recyclers they support. A reputable junk car removal service may not have all of these certifications, but they should have at least one.
- National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Certification: NSF certifies businesses in industries that affect public health standards to protect the world’s food, water, environment, and consumer products. NSF only recently began certifying auto recyclers, so not many junk car removal services will have this certification.
- United Recyclers Group (URG) Membership: The United Recyclers Group is an industry organization offering training and environmental guidance for junk car removal services and other entities in the junk car industry. A reputable junk car removal service may show membership in this organization, showing their dedication for keeping up with industry standards.
- Automotive Recyclers Association Certified Automotive Recycler (CAR) Program: The Automotive Recyclers Association is an organization dedicated to the ethical, environmentally conscious, and safe recycling of junk vehicles. Certification through the CAR program shows that the junk car removal service uses industry best practices above and beyond the minimum standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI): The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries is another trade organization that focuses more on the scrap metal recycling side of the junk car industry. Most junk car removal services will not be members of the ISRI, but if the service is tied to a auto scrap metal recycler look for the ISRI membership seal.
- RIOS Certified Recycler: The RIOS certification is based on industry standards for junk car removal services, salvage yards, and other auto recyclers. The RIOS Certification badge indicates that the junk car removal service meets all four points of the RIOS standard, including footprint evaluations, operational controls, communication procedures, and monitoring for effectiveness.
EPA junk car removal service facility search
The EPA maintains a registry of junk car removal services and other facilities subject to EPA requirements. Using the EPA facility search will return the EPA grade and comments about that particular junk car removal service. This is a great way to make sure that the vehicles being removed will be recycled and disposed of properly, protecting the environment rather than harming it. Details of EPA guidelines for recycling junk cars are described below.
Again, if the junk car removal service only hauls away or buys the junk car to pass on for salvage and recycling, some of these items may not apply. Still, the more certifications and memberships you see the more reputable the company will be. Remember that membership and certification seals can be copied onto any website. Check with the actual entity to make sure the certification or membership is legit and up to date.
2. Understand the Junk Car Removal Process
The next step in the junk car removal process after choosing a junk car removal service is to get a junk car quote, which should be free and guaranteed for a specific number of days. The value of the junk car will be calculated using the year, make, model, condition, and location of the vehicle, as well as local scrap car prices and expected junk car removal costs.
Once the offer is accepted, junk car removal is scheduled. It is not necessary to remove the trash, wash, or vacuum the vehicle before it is removed. The vehicle recyclers expect some amount of trash and debris when dismantling and recycling junk cars. However, you should clean out the car sufficiently to ensure that there are no loose belongings in the vehicle.
The junk car will be removed by the service or a partnering towing company. The tow operator will arrive with a wrecker or flatbed tow truck to remove the vehicle safely. The vehicle is then transported to a nearby auto salvage yard, auto dismantler, scrap metal processor, or vehicle recycler.
An auto dismantler or vehicle removes and sells any reusable parts before processing the vehicle as scrap metal. The unrecyclable parts of the vehicle as well as harmful substances are disposed of properly by the vehicle recycler. The EPA lays out specific processes and regulations for proper disposal including regulations specific to motor oil, air conditioning refrigerant, and vehicle waste disposal wells.
Understanding the junk car removal process is vital for making sure that you have a positive experience, and that your vehicle recycling has a positive environmental impact. Being informed about the process and local scrap car prices will help you choose the right junk car removal service.
3. Know Your Rights
The Consumer Rights Act and the FTC’s Used Car Rule offer rights and protections for consumers that are applicable to selling cars to any used car dealer, including a junk car removal service. The Consumer Bill of Rights are:
- The right to safety: The junk car removal service must be safe in their handling of the vehicle.
- The right to be informed: The junk car removal service must be honest, transparent, and provide all relevant information.
- The right to choose: You have the right to choose a junk car removal service even if you have gotten quotes from other services.
- The right to be heard: You have the right to report cases of fraud or junk car removal scams to the FTC and the BBB.
- The right to education: The FTC believes all consumers have a right to be educated about their rights and responsibilities. However, they do not currently offer education for junk car removal services.
- The right to redress: As a consumer you have the right to have problems addressed and resolved, with compensation being made as appropriate.
The most important right you have is the right to back out of the deal. There is no obligation to use a particular junk car removal service when you get a quote. The vehicle owner can still back out right up to the moment of completing the transaction, even if the offer was accepted. This is one of the most important consumer rights of junk car removal services because unscrupulous companies will change the terms when they come to pick up the vehicle.
The best way to protect oneself from unfair business practices, scams, and outright fraud is to check the background, certifications, and licensing of the junk car removal service as noted above. If you believe that you may be dealing with an illegal or dishonest service you can report the situation and submit any evidence to back your claims to the FTC and the BBB.
Complaints to the FTC are not necessarily resolved and there may be no follow up, but the data will be used to track trends and identify companies that are consistently acting barely within or outside of the law. Complaints to the BBB may be followed up on, the complaint posted to their profile on the BBB site, and may be resolved. This is why checking the BBB when vetting junk car removal services is so important.
4. Consider the Cost of Junk Car Removal
Although you should not pay out of pocket for junk car removal, you should not expect completely free junk car removal services. The cost of removing the junk car and towing it to a recycling facility is typically included in the offer from the junk car removal service. Keep this in mind and negotiate as appropriate.
There are three main factors that affect the cost of junk car removal. The age and condition of the vehicle determines what towing equipment and manpower is required, and therefore affects junk car removal costs the most. Vehicles that are missing wheels, have all flat tires, or are damaged, wrecked, or totaled require more expensive equipment and may require more than one tow operator.
The second factor that affects the cost of junk car removal is how far the vehicle will need to be transported. Junk car removal services operating in or partnering with local towing providers will be able to offer the lowest cost junk car removal, and therefore will give higher junk car quotes than other national providers.
There may be additional fees associated with junk car removal that are taken into account when providing junk car quotes. These include special equipment rental or additional manpower on site. Make sure all fees and costs are included in the junk car removal quote. The best junk car removal service will be completely transparent in their junk car removal appraisal.
5. Think About the Environmental Impact of Junk Car Removal for End-of-Life Vehicles
Junk car removal has significant environmental impact, both positive and negative. Improper recycling and disposal of motor vehicles, their parts, components, elements, and fluids is as harmful to the environment as allowing junk vehicles to accumulate. Some of these substances include the sodium azide found in airbags, battery acid, asbestos found in brake pads, and mercury switches. Proper disposal of tires and fluids like gas, motor oil, transmission fluid, and coolant are necessary to protect the groundwater that affects the surrounding environment.
There are several programs with the EPA that regulate and support junk car recycling efforts. The four most important of these are:
- Stormwater Management: Stormwater management is extremely important for vehicle recycling facilities because there are so many chemicals that can be washed away into storm drains, affecting the groundwater and other water sources. The EPA has strict guidelines regulating stormwater management in automobile salvage yards.
- Managing, Using, and Recycling Used Motor Oil: The EPA has guidelines on how used motor oil can be recycled and reused for other purposes, and when and how it must be disposed of. How motor oil is handled is extremely important because used motor oil is extremely toxic to nearby ecosystems.
- Motor Vehicles Waste Disposal Wells: Vehicle waste disposal wells are containment where a mix of various fluids from motor vehicles drain off. The most common application of these waste disposal wells is in a garage where many vehicles are undergoing various repairs in any given day. However, these regulations also apply to auto salvagers dismantling vehicles before recycling.
- Handling Automotive Refrigerants: Contaminated refrigerants from motor vehicles must be handled in a certain manner dictated by the EPA. Refrigerants are not just hazardous to the environment, they also pose a public health concern. Improper handling of refrigerants also endangers the health and safety of the individual handling the chemicals.
There are, of course, many benefits of properly recycling motor vehicles. The steel salvaged from junk cars can be used to make 13 million vehicles, and it takes less oil and energy than producing new steel for car parts. In total, vehicle recycling saves about 85 million barrels of oil and 26% energy savings by processing recycled steel over new. Recycling end-of-life vehicles have a huge impact on the environment.
6. Look for Specialized Junk Car Removal Services
Junk car buyers pay for and remove all vehicles that can be classified as a personal vehicle, including all makes and models of cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs sold to the general public. However, there are other types of vehicles that need to be recycled.
Specialized junk car removal services will be needed to recycle RVs. You will need to find an auto dismantler that handles everything from salvaging parts to recycling the last drop of motor oil. To find a specialized service to remove junk recreational trailers look for scrap yards as these camper trailers are mostly metal. However, both RVs and camper trailers are costly to remove, which greatly affects the economic benefit of recycling. ATV salvage yards are few, but are a good resource for other types of vehicles when available.
When you’re not ready to have a junk car removed but you have motor oil and other materials to get rid of safely, look for an auto parts store or recycling center near you that accepts these items over a junk car buyer. You should never throw these fluids in the trash. According to AutoZone, the used motor oil from one vehicle oil change can contaminate up to 1 million gallons of water. If you have fluids stored separately from the junk vehicle and need the whole hauled away and recycled, the towing partner junk car buyers send will usually accept these items as well.
7. Don't Fall for Junk Car Removal Scams
There are several types of junk car removal scams. Hidden fees and exploitative business practices against people needing junk car removal is common. In fact, the FTC recently came down on a junk car removal service for charging in appropriate junking fees. To protect yourself, look at any assorted costs carefully, and always ask for an itemized breakdown of the offer to reveal hidden costs. If you believe a company is charging exorbitant or hidden fees for junk car removal, you can report the company on the FTC website as described above.
Another type of junk car removal scam is giving a low-ball offer. These unscrupulous junk car removal services give an offer well below market value. The junk car service will cite many seemingly reasonable items that reduce the offer, and they will convince you that they are giving you the best deal. The best way to avoid these scams is to get more than one junk car removal quote and be aware of local scrap car prices.
Bait and switch is a similar junk car removal scam in which the junk car removal service quotes one price and then pays another on junk car removal. The price difference can be staggering. One might be quoted $500 and be offered $70 on pick up. Always keep in mind that you are under no legal obligation to accept their offer even if they have already arrived to removed the junk car. You can back out at any time.
That said, there are some instances in which an offer might legitimately change. For example, if the condition of the vehicle or the status of the title are not reported accurately, discovering these discrepancies naturally leads to a lower offer. Whether you accept the offer or not, you can report these exploitative business practices on the FTC site and with the BBB as well.
8. Consider Donating Your Car Instead
One of the ways you can schedule junk car removal is by donating the vehicle to a local charity. The charity disposes of the vehicle in much the same way as a paid junk car removal service, with the proceeds benefiting the charity. It is important to choose a charity near you, because the longer the distance between the vehicle and the charity the more it costs them to pick up and transport the junk car.
Research each charity beyond their website to ensure that it is legitimate and everything you believe it to be. A few ways you can verify the legitimacy of a charity include:
- Verify the organization is a charitable entity according to the IRS. Anyone can set up a website with a .org extension, but all reputable charitable organizations will be given that tax exempt status by the IRS. You can verify the status of a charity with the IRS charity database.
- Verify how your donation will be used by the charity. There are two organizations that monitor and report on how donations are used by various charities, Charity Navigator and org. Both of these websites offer search features so you can see exactly how much of your donation will go to the cause, and how much goes to overhead or board members.
- Check the charity’s reputation with the BBB. The BBB doesn’t just evaluate businesses. They also evaluate charities. Much of this information is the same as Charity Navigator and Guidestar.org, but where data differs always err on the side of the BBB Charity and Donor Resources The BBB often gives more information for local charities than the other databases.
Not all charities accept junk cars as donations. To find a charity near you that accepts junk cars, search within local online directories. Look for charities that you are familiar with first. If you don’t see anything familiar, look for charities that have a cause you believe in. If you are adamant about donating a junk car to a particular charity and they do not accept junk cars, you can get the same tax deductions by selling the junk car to a junk car removal service and donating the cash you receive to the charity.
9. Be Prepared to Provide Documentation
Documentation is an important part of the junk car removal process, and includes both ownership documents and proof of identity. The vehicles must be legally transferred to the service for them to take possession and pay for the junk car. This means that the vehicle must have a clean title in the owner’s name. State or federal identification is necessary to verify ownership.
In some states, the vehicle registration is sufficient when the title is not available. Other ownership documents may be necessary depending on the situation. The best junk car removal services will identify the necessary paperwork and help you complete it. Otherwise, look to your local or state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for information about requirements to sell a vehicle in your state.
This process protects both vehicle owners and junk car services. Vehicle owners can rest assured that no one can sell their vehicle as a junk car if it were to be stolen. Meanwhile, junk car removal services can be certain that the transaction is completely within the law, protecting both their licensure and their reputation.
10. Don't Rush the Decision
It is important to take your time when choosing a junk car removal service. Junk car removal often seems urgent, especially when you have received a citation or notice to remove from your local neighborhood code enforcement or homeowners association. But rushing the decision could result in a poor junk car removal experience.
Even if you are feeling pressured, take your time and get quotes from more than one removal service. Start by talking to trusted friends, family, and colleagues about their own junk car removal experiences. You can also create a shortlist of junk car services by looking at online reviews. As you compare services, dismiss any offers that seem outrageously low or high. Offers that are much higher than the average are likely bait and switch scams. Once you have a few attractive offers, compare junk car removal services and verify their credentials using the information and resources above.
By checking reputations, comparing offers, ensuring environmental responsibility, and vetting junk car removal services with federal consumer protection organizations, anyone can have a positive and rewarding experience with their chosen junk car removal service.