How a Vehicle’s Year, Make, and Model Impacts the Value of a Junk Car

A junk vehicle's year, make and model are arguably some of the most important factors in determining its scrap value. This is because every vehicle's make and model isn't directly comparable in terms of popularity, price, and overall longevity. Some vehicles are significantly more popular, meaning there are more on the road. The more vehicles of a particular make and model that are on the road, the higher the demand is for used parts. Junkyards and junk car buyers consider this as they make an offer on a junk car. When they believe that they'll be able to resell the salvaged parts easily, then purchasing the junk car for a fair price is a good deal for them.

Junk cars can be any make and model. Any vehicle inevitably becomes too old or too broken down to function as a reliable form of transportation. When this happens, many owners head to the junkyard to make some quick cash. In the modern age, online junk car buyers provide a convenient avenue to sell a vehicle online. All junk car buyers will request the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the year it was manufactured.

Newer cars will command a higher value than older models, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. These vehicles have more in-demand parts and they may be heavier, which equates to more scrap metal that can be recycled and reused.

The industry for used car parts is continuously growing, especially as more drivers want to avoid expensive repair bills and costly OEM parts. Purchasing a used or refurbished used part can represent a happy medium for people seeking to drive affordably. Junkyards and junk car buyers capitalize on this industry by salvaging usable scrap parts and conveniently offering them for sale.

Let's discuss how the vehicle's year, make, and model is one of the 7 factors that determine a junk car's value.

Are Newer Junk Cars Worth More Than Older Junk Cars?

As a general rule of thumb, newer cars are always going to be more valuable than older ones. This rule can be turned on its head when it comes to classic vehicles, in which case age may be a bonus, especially if the vehicle has been kept in overall good shape. The second a new car is driven off of the lot at the dealership, the value begins to depreciate. Cars can lose between 15% and 20% of their value each year. By the time a car has reached junk car status, an original MSRP price of $30,000 could easily be $500 at a junkyard.

The average junk car is around 15-20 years old. As of 2021, the average age of vehicles on the road had just surpassed the 12-year mark, which was an all-time high. This could be the result of various factors, namely the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused many drivers to keep their vehicles instead of trading them in during an uncertain time. Relatively new vehicles can still be junked if they've been in a particularly bad wreck and the insurance company determines that the repair bill wouldn't be worth the remaining value of the car.

Newer Model vs Older Model Junk Car Comparison

When considering a more recent model, such as an '18 Toyota Corolla, which is an already popular vehicle, the junkyard would find more value in a 2018 model than from a 1998 model. The 20-year difference makes a significant impact on the overall condition of the vehicle, as well as the salvageable parts. Parts from a 2018 model could potentially be reused in a 2017 Corolla or a 2019 to 2020 model, and so on. There is a larger market for these parts, therefore making the vehicle more valuable due to its age.

Newer vehicles often have more valuable metals located within the catalytic converter. This is especially true for hybrid vehicles, such as the Prius. This is worth more to the recycler who can salvage these metals to be reused.

In general,

When Are New Cars Considered "Junk"?

While less common than older junk cars, newer model vehicles can end up in a junkyard for a variety of reasons. In most instances, newer vehicles are worth the expensive repair, as they still have many years of usability in them. When insurance determines that the vehicle is a total loss, this means that it won't be cost-effective to repair. This can be due to a catastrophic accident that has left the majority of the car in bad shape, especially when it's to the point that it won't turn on or drive.

Owners can choose to pay for the repairs out of pocket, though this can be highly expensive. The choice then boils down to salvaging parts for resale or selling the entire vehicle to a junkyard and getting some quick cash.

Age isn't the only factor that determines if a vehicle should be in the junkyard. Many older vehicles are still running reliably if they've been well maintained over the years. The other factors include the over condition of the car, its mileage, and also the frequency of repairs. Other instances where a new car may end up at a junkyard are when flooding has occurred. Once a vehicle is submerged underwater for a period, it can end up with severe damage to the electrical components.

Vehicles deemed as "lemons" may have manufacturer defects, which can end up being serious safety hazards to the driver and others on the road. These aren't always repairable, so the vehicle may be sold to a junk car buyer who can still scrap the vehicle and sell it for metal.

Is It Worth It to Junk an Old Vehicle?

Despite older vehicles commanding less value than newer ones, it's still absolutely worth it to junk a 20-year-old car. Oftentimes, the alternative is a vehicle that sits in a driveway or rusts away in an abandoned yard. It's worth it to get $100-300 for a junk car, as this cash can be put towards a newer vehicle.

Vehicles that are two decades old are, for the most part, at the end of their useful life. This can equate to having fewer salvageable parts if any are left. The remaining value left over on these vehicles is in their weight in metal. Current scrap metal market prices will determine how much it's worth.

When vehicles have been kept in relatively decent shape and they still run, they will benefit from a higher valuation. Non-running vehicles, while still purchased by junk yards, are less valuable than cars that turn on and drive. Regardless of the age of the vehicle, the junkyard will buy it and provide an offer that considers all factors.

Which Cars Hold Their Value Over Time?

Some cars do a fairly good job of holding their value over time. Popular models of certain makes hold a respectable resale value, such as:

  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Honda Civic
  • Ford Mustang
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Subaru Outback

Of course, there is still going to be a fair bit of depreciation once the vehicle has been driven for 100,000+ miles. Once the vehicle reaches junk car status, it's likely to have some damage and it's becoming too costly to upkeep through expensive repairs that keep cropping up. Many owners will opt to purchase a newer vehicle to keep their monthly costs down and to have a more reliable mode of transportation.

The vehicles mentioned above are all highly popular makes and models, meaning that they have loyal followings. Other drives of the vehicle will likely be in the market for replacement parts at some point, which contributes to a higher value at the junkyard.

Many yards have an online inventory system, which makes it quick and easy for interested buyers to search for the part they need. At this point, they can order it and have it shipped or physically go to the yard to pick it up. Some yards will ship domestically while others stick to the traditional route of in-person sales. As modern technology continues to advance, some junk yards even opt to list their parts on online marketplaces such as eBay to reach an even wider audience.

Popular Car Makes and Models with Great Resale Value

How to Determine the Popularity of Your Vehicle

When selling a junk car, you should have a general idea of how popular your make and model is. Some years also do better than others. For instance, if there's a particular year that the model had a lot of issues — there may be fewer vehicles on the road, therefore fewer potential buyers for salvage parts. The higher the popularity, the more likely it is that reselling the salvaged parts will be easy for the junkyard.

There are several ways to gauge the popularity of your vehicle, including:

  • Research the sales figures.

Many auto manufacturers will publish their sales figures for a particular year. This data can help educate buyers and sellers alike on how popular a specific model was in a specific year. Use this knowledge to your advantage if you know that your vehicle is popular and in demand.

  • Check the industry reviews.

Sources such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power help drivers gauge the popularity of their make and model. The reviews factor in the reliability of a vehicle, along with its overall consumer satisfaction — which can provide a decent idea of how popular that year's model was.

  • Look up online listings.

Checking online marketplaces can also be a quick way to determine if a vehicle is still popular or not. This can also be location-specific. Some models are significantly more popular in certain regions of the United States than others.

Does Market Appeal Equate to Higher Junkyard Values?

A high market appeal doesn't always directly correlate to high junkyard value. Even the most popular make and model loses value over time, due to deteriorating condition, high mileage, and other factors. Junk car buyers may be open to paying more for a popular model when the demand is there for used parts. The exact value a junkyard is willing to pay for any car is entirely dependent on the specific circumstances around the car, such as its condition, age, and the current market for scrap metal. This is why it's integral to shop around for quotes, to ensure you don't get lowballed.

A popular model that has suffered from poor upkeep is often going to be worth less than a less popular model that's in relatively good condition for a junk car. Just because a model is considered "less popular" doesn't mean that there isn't a healthy market for its parts. There still may be a niche market for these vehicles, such as the loyal followings for the discontinued Subaru Baja and the polarizing Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Consumer preferences fluctuate year over year and can vary by region and current market trends. Keeping an eye on the current trends can ensure you get the best value for your junk car, regardless of whether it's a discontinued model or an unpopular design. Sell when scrap metal prices are high and consider seeking offers at the end of the month or the end of the quarter, which can be times when the junkyard is looking to meet its numbers.

Will Junk Car Buyers Purchase Discontinued Vehicles?

Yes, junk car buyers buy discontinued models every day. In some cases, discontinued vehicles hold a stronger value than those that are still being sold on the market. This is dependent on what type of demand there is for the discontinued model parts. In cases where a vehicle has been discontinued by the manufacturer, it can become increasingly difficult to find replacement parts for the ones still on the road. These drivers will have to look elsewhere to secure replacement parts, which is usually at a junkyard or an online resale marketplace.

Before requesting a quote from a junk car buyer, do some preliminary research about the demand for the discontinued vehicle. This can provide the seller with an idea of what a reasonable offer would look like and provides some leeway for negotiations. Research comparable parts on sites such as eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. This provides insight into what they're reselling for and how many potential buyers there are.

Instead of settling for the first offer at the first junkyard you contact, shop around a bit. Get several offers before settling on the highest one. When working with online junk car buyers, such as Junk Car Medics, you'll have access to multiple interested buyers who compete against each other to offer you the best price. This not only benefits the seller by providing the best offer, but it's also more convenient than calling multiple local yards to inquire about pricing.

Does The Vehicle's Condition Impact The Value of Newer and Older Junk Cars?

Yes, the vehicle's condition will impact the value of both newer and older junk cars. Junk cars with an overall better condition will have better value than junk cars in poorer overall condition. In general newer vehicles will tend to have a better value than older vehicles.

Does Having A Valid Title Impact The Value of Newer and Older Junk Cars?

Yes, having a valid title will impact the value of newer and older junk cars. In most cases having a valid title will produce a higher value for your junk car no matter the year, make, or model. By not having a valid title will usually mean you will get less value for your junk car no matter how old or new the junk car is.

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