How Much Money Do You Get for a Junk Car?

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What's the average payout you can get for a junk car? Find out on this post
Do you have a junk car that has become a permanent fixture on your property? Do you have a vehicle that continues to need repairs, fail inspections, and break down? Have you found yourself asking, “How much money do you get for a junk car?”

Getting cash for junk cars is a simple, hassle-free process. Yet, the amount of money auto salvage yards will pay for junk vehicles can vary. Maybe you still have lingering fond memories of your car and you’re concerned that others won’t see its value like you do. You must face the hard truth: the worth of a junk car is not based on how much fun you had in it, but on how much its parts will bring in.

By exploring the factors that will influence how much money you get for a junk car, you can make an informed decision about the sale of your vehicle.

If you have limited options, Junk Car Medics can put cash (in the form of a check) in your hands for your old clunker, regardless of its condition.

7 Factors That Determine How Much Money You Get for a Junk Car

When asking the question “how much can I get if I junk my car,” it’s essential to remember that you are selling it mostly for its metal value, not its trade-in value.

Cars are made up of various types of metals, all differing in worth. Steel is the most common type of scrap metal and along with iron, makes up about 65% of a car’s weight.

Auto salvage yards, junk yards, and scrap dealers  buy scrap cars so they can strip the metal and sell it. Manufacturers then recycle the metal to make a variety of goods, including new cars and building materials. Therefore, when junking a car, the value is based mostly on the demand for the metal and current scrap metal prices for cars. When manufacturers experience a drop in production, it reduces the demand for metal – which means a lowering of best prices offered for junk cars.

Here are 7 factors that help determine the cash value of junk cars, with the scrap metal market being the driving factor:

The Current Value of Scrap Metal

This is a major factor in your quote, since most junkers are sold for metal recycling. An average car contains around 2,400 pounds of steel and about 300 pounds of aluminum. The price of scrap metal varies from day to day based upon demand.

Unfortunately, scrap value of these metals is currently low and has been losing value since 2014. In 2015, the price of metal was about $480 per ton. By early 2016, that figure had been dramatically reduced, and a ton of metal was only worth about $50.

Domestic demand has remained about the same, but exports are lower, so supply for recycled metals is high. This, combined with a strong US dollar and overall slow international economic growth, is bad for scrap car dealers.

If they don’t get much, they can’t pay much. Learn more about current scrap car prices here.

Your Car’s Make, Model, and Year

A car’s make, model, and year will all impact how much money you get for a junk car. If your car has some salvageable components, certain types of cars –- popular and high-end vehicles -- might bring in more.  If there’s a demand for specific parts that your car can fill, your estimate might go up because they can still sell on the market as replacement parts. Simply put, a totaled Ferrari does not have the same value as a totaled Impala.

Some notes:

  • Popular cars tend to be valued top dollar if parts can be salvaged and resold
  • New cars are made with aluminum & magnesium alloy, which are worth more than steel, increasing their scrap value as it saves manufacturers money.
  • Discontinued cars tend to be valued less as their parts aren’t in high demand and the scrap value is all it’s worth
  • Some newer cars use less metal and more plastic, lowering the scrap value of such junk cars.

Your Vehicle’s Condition

In many cases, junkers are end-of-life vehicles, meaning they are good only for recycling materials. Individual components are too damaged or deteriorated to be worth re-selling. Therefore, your old friend will get crushed and sold for scrap. (Stay strong.)

That said, your vehicle’s overall condition can still impact the amount you can receive. This includes exterior, interior, and mechanical conditions. If you can drive your car to the business instead of having it towed, you’ll typically make a bit more.

And whether your car is drivable or not, used parts in good shape are often sought after as replacements for expensive new components. Damage to more valuable components such as the catalytic converter or engine will have a more significant impact.

Sometimes salvaged cars are sold at auction to people who’ll fix them up and resell them. If this is likely, the vehicle’s owner will often get a higher quote from the salvager.  However, unless a car is in very good condition (and then it probably wouldn’t be a junker!), it’ll be included in an auction lot. Because these cars are typically in worse shape than individually sold vehicles, lots tend to be valued less.

The Current Market Demand for a Vehicle’s Parts

Salvage yards that pay cash for junk cars sell high-demand car parts that are still in good condition. This is where your vehicle’s make, model, year, and condition come into play. If a car is still in high demand, its parts may be worth more. If a vehicle has several components that are still in good condition, the salvage yard may offer more to the owner as there will be more parts that the salvage yard can sell.

If they’re in good shape, easily salvageable components include alternators, starter motors, high-end GPS systems, and relatively new tires. Salvage yards pull these before scrapping the car, so you reap additional benefits. However, since you’re not doing the work to tear down the car and store and sell parts, you won’t receive the full potential sale price.

On the other hand, older vehicles might not be worth much for parts, because few drivers are looking for replacement components.  Demand is also linked to geographic location, because needs vary from place to place.

Your Car’s Weight

Your car’s weight significantly impacts how much money you get for a junk car. Once a salvage yard purchases a vehicle, they strip it for parts before selling the scrap metal to a recycling yard. The recycling yard can then sell the recycled scrap to other businesses, including car manufacturers, where new cars are built from the material. The more your vehicle weighs, the more a salvage yard and companies, including Junk Car Medics, will be able to offer you.

If your poor junker is good only for scrap, the quote is based on its weight. Steel accounts for most of that and it’s priced per ton.

Location

The value of junk cars – and steel – varies by state. Factors, such as state scrapping laws and local demand, affect how much you are paid for your junk car. If you’ve been asking yourself, “should I junk my car,” you’ll want to keep in mind that some states require intensive security steps, such as fingerprinting, before a car can be scrapped. This increases the cost of processing your junk car and lowers the amount you receive for it from junkers.

Some logistics factors also come into play. In states that have few junk car buyers, traveling with tow trucks to customers is expensive because of the hassles involved. On top of it all, they might not be able to offer free towing and junk car removal. The cost of transportation for the business and lack of competition are two factors that can reduce the price you’re offered for your old car.

Also, if you can’t drive your vehicle in, it’ll have to be towed. That involves gas and labor, so transporting your car is usually taken into account when a salvage company gives you a quote.

Mileage

Old car plus high mileage equals lower estimate because individual parts won’t be worth much. After all, if the mileage were lower and the components were more trustworthy, you probably wouldn’t be getting rid of the vehicle.

BONUS: 8. NOT the Kelley Blue Book, NADA Guide or Edmunds

These texts are useful for valuing used cars in (at least) decent shape. But your junker has serious damage and/or mechanical problems. It’s probably never going to be on the road again, so these guides are not appropriate resources for appraisal.

However, if it’s just a matter of fixing up your car, these guides might be useful to you for knowing if an estimate is fair. Take the book value and subtract whatever it’ll cost to fix it up enough to sell it. That’s what a business might make if it buys your car at auction. However, the amount you receive will be less, because you’re not doing the work yourself.

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Each of these factors plays a role in determining the estimate for your junk car. As attached as you are to it (or to the money you hope to get from it), the value of any product is ultimately based on what someone is willing to pay for it.

What Are Junk Cars Currently Selling For?

Chart displaying average junk car prices by month

Wondering, “How much money do you get for a junk car?”  Above is a graph of what junk cars are currently selling for on average at JunkCarMedics.com. (these are averages and actual payouts vary).

The average payout for a junk car is between $100 and $400. Through 2019, Junk Car Medics paid an average amount of $279 for cars. Payout amounts vary significantly based on the amount of scrap metal a junkyard can sell and whether or not any parts from the vehicle can be resold.

Check current junk car prices.

Junk Car Medics Provides Cash for Junk Cars

Why waste any more time or money on that old clunker?

You can get money for a junk car, regardless of its condition. Junk Car Medics will pick up and buyer  of any make, model, or year and provide you with a check for your car on the spot. We offer the best prices and free towing, too!