How Much Is My Junk Car Worth? Find Out How Scrap Car Value is Determined

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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.

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.

How Much Is My Junk Car Worth?

Below is a list of recent offers made for various cars across America. We hope you can use this to help give you an idea of how much you can sell your junk car for.

As you'll see, most of the vehicles older than 10 years are selling for way less than $500, more like  $50-$200 with SUV's and heavier vehicles closer to $200-$500 and newer vehicles that are in better condition are going for closer to $1,000 and up. The bigger the vehicle the more you can expect to receive.  So a Chevy Suburban will fetch more than a Toyota Camry would.

The point is the amount of money you can sell a junk car for greatly depends on multiple factors that we'll lay out below and your best bet is to get a few offers and go from there.

VehicleZipCodeOffer DateOffer Price
2002 Honda Civic7822006-02-2020$80
2003 Dodge Intrepid5535206-02-2020$95
2006 Chrysler Pacifica2817306-02-2020$90
1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee3560106-02-2020$80
2010 Toyota Prius5510906-02-2020$610
2010 Dodge Charger3003406-02-2020$700
2005 Ford F-1508053806-02-2020$910
2007 Toyota Camry3301506-02-2020$820
2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee5536206-02-2020$80
2004 Honda CR-V3027306-02-2020$530
2005 Acura MDX2350906-02-2020$505
1989 Chevrolet Blazer9237606-02-2020$55
1994 Toyota Corolla6110106-02-2020$90
2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser3302406-02-2020$75
2005 Saturn ION4761206-02-2020$60

If your car is truly a junk car, then the price we offer is based largely on the market value of scrap metal. Unfortunately, the demand for scrap has been relatively low. Scrap metal prices can change on a dime based on everything from the time of year to general industry demand. It's a commodity that has swung up and down over the years, but lately, it's been on the downside.

Despite this piece of bad news, Junk Car Medics buys thousands of cars every month from people just like you. The reason why so many people trust us, even when they're not offered as much as they'd like, is because we find ways to give you the fairest possible price despite the challenges of the market.

7 FACTORS THAT DETERMINE WHAT YOUR JUNK CAR IS WORTH AND IT'S VALUE

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 scrap car 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, junkyards, 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 a car's scrap value.

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

1. CURRENT SCRAP METAL PRICE

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.

The price of scrap metal fluctuates regularly and greatly impacts scrap car prices.  The market is influenced by supply and demand, the economic conditions in major trading nations, and the complicated international trade policies that have affected the production, sales, and purchases of these commodities.

If the market values of the various scrap metals in your car are low, then your scrap car will be worth less money compared to when scrap metal prices are higher. You can check metals prices online to get a general idea of the current values of each.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4.  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.

The automotive recycling yards that sell these parts will catalog and store them, then offer them for sale on the internet to buyers across the nation. Parts can be shipped to just about anywhere they are needed, with high levels of efficiency.

Some of these automotive recycling facilities will set themselves up as a “pick and pull,” in which vehicles are parked in rows, and local customers can enter the grounds with their tools, browse through the vehicles on display, and remove the pieces they need. This provides a self-service approach which saves consumers money, since they are performing their own labor to dismantle and remove the parts they need!

Who buys these parts? Repair shops, body shops, budget-conscious owners of older vehicles, and anyone else trying to save some money by buying used parts instead of new ones.

Every vehicle’s parts are not necessarily of high value in the used parts market. The cars with the highest value parts have these qualities:

  • They are popular models made in large quantities
  • They were produced fairly recently, so many of them are still on the road
  • The parts are in sellable condition

If your car qualifies on all three counts, there should be a robust demand for parts from it. Both body parts and mechanical parts will be sought out for various types of repairs being made to these vehicles. Having desirable parts will yield the highest junk car prices.

On the other hand, your car’s parts may not be worth much if there are not many of that model still registered and running around on the roads. There’s just too little demand.

The only exception to this is if you have a rare and desirable vehicle. If so, you may be able to sell it directly to a collector as a parts car.

5. 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.

Larger vehicles tend to weigh more, which means that they contain more metal. At a given point in time, this will usually make more of a difference in your car’s scrap value than anything else. Here are some weights of various vehicle categories:

Cars                            Example                     Avg. Class Weight

Subcompact car          Hyundai Accent          2,505 lbs.

Compact car                Toyota Corolla            2,919 lbs.

Midsize car                 Honda Accord             3,361 lbs.

Large car                     Dodge Charger           3,883 lbs.

Minivan                      Chrysler Pacifica           4,437 lbs.

SUVs

Subcompact SUV       Buick Encore                3,145 lbs.

Compact SUV             Mazda CX-5                3,590 lbs.

Midsize SUV               Ford Explorer              4,404 lbs.

Large SUV                  Chevrolet Tahoe          5,603 lbs.

Pickup Trucks

Midsize Pickup           GMC Canyon              3,977 lbs.

Large Pickup               RAM 1500                  4,951 lbs.

6. 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.

7. 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.

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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.


Things That Do NOT Impact Scrap Car Value

Just Having Filled The Gas Tank

There is a very good chance that, if your car ends up at a local scrap yard, the gas is siphoned out of your vehicle and end up in tank that the owners and employees use to fill their own cars.

There is a 0% chance that you will be paid extra for it.  Don't like it? Drive your car around for a while longer and use it up.  Although, there's a good chance you can't do that anymore if you are here reading this.

New Tires or Brakes

Tires have some rules and regulations tied to them.  And who really wants to buy used brakes? Therefore scrap car buyers are not going to give you extra money because your tires are only a year old or because your brakes just were put on last week.  Don't like it? Try removing them yourself and selling them separately.

The Sentimental Value to You

I'm sorry to break this to you, but scrap car buyers do not care about the sentimental stories and the value you place on those stories about your car. So save those sob stories when it's time for junk car removal.

Kelley Blue Book, NADA Guides, or Edmunds

These websites 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.

 


Your next question is likely to be 'So just how much is my junk car worth at Junk Car Medics?' Well, no time like the present to find out. Whether you're considering us from the comfort of your home or the side of the road with smoke pouring out of the hood, you can start with our online tool if you're in the mood to collect quotes.

Of course, no-pressure instant offers aren't all you get when you choose Junk Car Medics. We also offer the best in customer service and free removal nationwide. If you prefer to do everything online, we work it out via email. If you'd rather start a conversation with us, just give us a call. If something goes wrong with the pickup time, we'll work it out with you. There's a reason why we're the largest cash for junk cars service, and it's because we literally go the extra mile for our customers.

We'll just need the mileage, VIN, year, make, model, and general condition of the car to get started. When you're ready, click the button below to answer a few questions about your car.

Sell your car safely, while practicing social distancing

COVID-19 Update: Junk Car Medics and our providers are taking all precautions and supporting social distancing efforts. You can sell your car from the comfort of your home.

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