When selling a junk car, many sellers are looking to get top dollar for the sale. Luckily, there are several tips to help enable junk car owners to find a fair price for their scrap car and to avoid any pitfalls when dealing with junk car buyers, such as being lowballed and staying aware of potential bait-and-switch scenarios. Those looking to make the most money for a junk car should heed these tips and tricks to set themselves up for success when making a sale.
Junk car values are affected by various factors, such as their condition and the current market for scrap metal. The market can fluctuate throughout the year, so sellers should keep an eye on prices and jump on a good offer when they see one. Some vehicles are worth more based on their weight alone, such as a heavy-duty Ford truck. The more metal built into the vehicle, the more it'll inevitably be worth at the scrap yard where it goes to be crushed, shredded, and recycled.
The average junk car owner may not realize there are multiple types of junk car buyers, ranging from the local junkyard down the road to online buyers who may even specialize in specific makes. It's key to collect multiple offers before deciding on the highest one, which gives the seller more bargaining power to chase a fair deal for their old ride.
Find the Weight of Your Junk Car
When it comes to determining the value of your junk car, it's important to understand that the weight of the vehicle is the integral determining factor. Junk car buyers will consider whether the car is drivable, whether it has valuable parts that can be salvaged and resold, and the overall condition of the car. Without any of these other factors, the weight of the car in metal determines the amount that it can be scrapped for. This is based on the current going rate for steel and other scrap metal, which can be a volatile industry.
When considering how to find the weight of your junk car, open the driver's side door and locate a small sticker. This sticker should contain information about the vehicle, including the curb weight. You can use this weight as an estimate for how much you may hope to receive based on the current script metal prices. If a sticker is unable to be located, the curb weight should also be in the owner's manual.
When it comes to different classes of vehicles, the government has divided cars based on weight.
- Light Duty (Class 1 & 2)
- Medium Duty (Class 3, 4, 5 & 6)
- Heavy Duty (Class 7 & 8)
Heavy duty vehicles will be worth more in scrap metal than light or medium duty as they weigh more and have larger frames, thus more metal that can be crushed and recycled. The vast majority of junk cars are classified within the light duty field, especially Class 1 which includes sedans and SUVs. These vehicles weigh under 6,000 pounds, compared to a Class 2 vehicle which can weigh up to 10,000 pounds (a utility van, for example).
One of the lightest cars on the market is the Mitsubishi Mirage, which comes in at just over 2,000 pounds. Compared to the heaviest model, the Ford F-450 Super Duty truck, at a whopping 8,587 pounds, the Mirage wouldn't command nearly as much at the junkyard as the Ford based on weight alone. Other examples of vehicles worth more due to their significant weight include:
- Ram 3500 Limited Mega Cab SB — 7,536 pounds (Class 2)
- GMC Sierra 3500HD — 7,352 pounds (Class 2)
- Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD — 7,352 pounds (Class 2)
Understanding the weight of your junk car and what class it falls into is helpful when determining a basic price range you can expect to get from a junk car buyer. If the number seems much too low, you can toss the offer aside and seek another one from a different buyer.
Determine the Value of Your Junk Car
The range of value held by a specific junk car isn't necessarily a secret and many scrap car owners can find a fair range by doing some quick online research. There is a basic step-by-step guide for how to determine the value of your junk car is:
- Look at the current market for scrap metal prices
- Write down your vehicle's basic information (VIN, make, model, year, condition, etc.)
- Request quotes either online or via phone from multiple junk car buyers
- Compare these quotes and cut out any obvious lowball offers
- Opt for the highest offer, so long as the company seems professional
Junk car buyers don't charge fees for providing offers, so scrap car owners can call around and shop offers before making an informed decision. The newer the junk car, the more it will command on the market. Newer-year models will be in higher demand for salvaged parts, as they're more popular on the road. Sellers should keep a reasonable number in mind as they're seeking offers. Junk car buyers will offer an amount that allows them to profit off of the vehicle, as opposed to the seller salvaging parts and selling them individually. Go into more detail with this article to "determine the value of a junk car"
Have the Vehicle Title or Get a Replacement
Depending on the state where the vehicle is being junked, there may be rules and regulations around when a car does and does not need a title. Most junk car buyers prefer to have the title of ownership when they purchase the car, as it saves them the extra step of having to procure one. On average, replacement titles cost $35 — which is a relatively small fee when the buyer considers the additional value that it adds to the vehicle. Junk cars with a title can bring in around $192 more when compared to ones without a title. Minus the average replacement title fee, this is a total of $157 additional dollars that a scrap car with a title is worth.
Different states have different fees when requesting a duplicate title. Some states, such as Oregon and Louisiana, charge heftier fees than their counterparts. Other states, such as Kentucky and Texas, don't require a large sum of cash to pay for a replacement or duplicate title.
- Oregon — $93
- California — $23
- Kentucky — $6
Procuring a replacement title doesn't have to be a lengthy process. It may take anywhere from 15 to 30 days. If you're thinking about junking your car within the next month or two and you don't have a title, it's best to start the process right away to ensure you have all of the paperwork you may need. Replacement titles put sellers in a better position when it comes to making more money from their junk cars.
Scrap the Car's Parts Then Sell the Car's Hulk
The easiest and least time-consuming way to junk a car is to simply sell it to a junkyard. Many sellers don't want to scrap out individual parts and pieces, as this requires a great deal of effort and locating multiple buyers. Those interested in making the most of their junk car will often opt for this route, as it can significantly increase the overall cash influx from the vehicle. Junk car owners without mechanical knowledge may struggle to find reliable buyers looking to purchase parts such as a catalytic converter, an engine, and a transmission.
The potential to make hundreds of dollars from a catalytic converter and an engine is readily available in many cities. For instance, a catalytic converter from a junk car can sell for around $300-$500 while a functional engine can sell for upwards of $1,000. Considering that the national average for junk cars is below $500, choosing to sell these two individual parts could bring in nearly 3x that — not including the price for the hulk of the car at the scrap yard.
Many junk car buyers prefer to purchase a complete vehicle, meaning one that isn't missing any parts. Sellers should be aware that if they choose to sell parts individually, they may need to put a bit more legwork into locating a junk car buyer for the remainder of the vehicle once it's been salvaged for high-value parts. Inevitably, junk car buyers will offer less for a car without an engine, transmission, catalytic converter, and any other missing components. At the end of the day, selling car parts and then selling the hulk of the car will net the owner more in profit from the sale.
If you don't know how to scrap a car for parts, online junk car buyers such as Junk Car Medics can offer a fair price to buy your junk car. Selling a junk car in one piece is quick, easy, and efficient. Many sellers can walk away with hundreds of dollars cash in their pocket from a decrepit junk car.
Prepare Your Junk Car for Sale
As you're wondering how to prepare a junk car for sale, consider removing any aftermarket products. These are products that were made by somebody other than the manufacturer, such as an upgraded stereo system or a subwoofer. These components, while they bring value to the original owner, don't have high resale value and they should be removed if possible. WeatherTech car mats, phone holders, and Yeti cups are all examples of items that should be taken care of before you junk a car.
In some cases, if the part is in a difficult area to reach — the junk car buyer may ask you to pay to remove it before they take ownership of the car. Buyers don't want the hassle of having to take the interior of the vehicle apart to remove an aftermarket product. Unless the item is OEM, it should be kept behind and either sold or used in another vehicle.
Research the Current Market Value for Scrap Metal and Car Parts
Those who don't have experience with junk cars may not realize that the scrap metal industry can be nearly as volatile as the stock market. Prices fluctuate day to day and buyers and sellers must do their research before completing a sale. To ensure you're getting fair compensation for your junk car, look up the most current scrap metal prices and compare them to the cash offering from the local junkyard. Online junk car buyers may offer a better rate, so it's recommended to collect multiple quotes before making a decision.
When sellers want to know how to find the current market value for scrap metal and car parts, all it takes is a basic Google search. This will lead sellers to current market data, which they can then use as a bargaining chip if they feel that they're getting lowballed by the buyer. Depending on the year and various economic factors, it may be better to junk a car earlier in the year. Keep an eye on the market and when scrap metal prices are on the rise, call up a buyer and strike a deal.
Find the Right Buyer for Your Junk Car
There are a variety of junk car buyers that are readily waiting to buy scrap cars for cash. Whether sellers opt for a junkyard, a private buyer, or an online junk car buyer — they should always ask around for a few quotes before making a decision. Sometimes the simple task of requesting multiple offers can earn a seller an extra $100 for their junk car.
Oftentimes, the decision of how to find the right buyer for your junk car comes down to location and convenience. Not everybody is skilled at using the Internet, which removes online junk car buyers from their list. Many of these buyers have set up easy-to-use websites that allow a hassle-free quote to be sent within minutes after some basic information is provided. If a seller has a local junkyard right around the corner, they may find that this is the easiest place to complete a transaction.
When requesting offers, it's not a bad idea to let the junk car buyer know that you're getting multiple offers. If a buyer knows that they're in direct competition with other junk car buyers, they may be willing to throw some extra cash on top to ensure they get the sale. This allows the seller to receive the most money for their junk car.
Negotiate the Best Price for Your Junk Car
Negotiations can be a stress-inducing process, particularly for those who have never bought or sold a car on their own before. Oftentimes, there is little room for negotiation when selling a junk car. Many junkyards and online junk car buyers provide a fair, honest price upfront. The final value is determined by how much they believe they can profit off of the car, at which point they decide how much they are willing to pay the seller. Haggling over a few dollars here and there won't be an effective use of time.
Sellers must understand the ballpark range that they should be seeking. This way, if they get lowballed they know when to speak up or walk away from the sale. If a buyer agrees to the price and then tries to alter it later on for no apparent reason, this is a red flag and the sale should be called off. In the same vein, the buyer should be honest about the condition of the vehicle — as this is unfair to the seller if the vehicle isn't operable when it was described as being in a drivable condition.
To understand how to negotiate the best price for your junk car, research the current market, including scrap metal prices. Look at recent offers in your area and compare them to your make, model, and year of the vehicle. The condition is also important, as rusted, inoperable vehicles that are missing parts are naturally worth less than newer models that were generally well-kept until a wreck occurred.
Finalize the Sale and Transfer Ownership
To finalize the sale of a junk car, most junk car buyers will provide paperwork that will transfer the title and registration. If the vehicle didn't have an active title of ownership and a duplicate was not provided, there is leeway in some states depending on the age of the vehicle and whether it's drivable or not. State rules and regulations should always be followed to ensure the sale is legal and above board. A duplicate title costs a small fee and may make the process quicker.
Unprofessional, low-quality junk car buyers may try to bait and switch the seller at the point of sale. They may offer one price originally but after the vehicle has been hooked up to the tow truck, they want to offer less than was agreed upon. To prevent such a situation from occurring, paperwork and payment should be handed over before the vehicle is hooked up to the tow truck. This enables the buyer the chance to inspect the car, to ensure the condition matches the description they received.
Experienced junk car buyers who run a professional business know how to transfer ownership of a junk car and will often happily walk the seller through the process. The seller needs to sign the title if one is available, and the buyer will then take this signed title to the DMV — where a new registration and title can be issued. Some states require a bill of sale form or other documentation that indicates the sale was made lawfully.
Is It Necessary to Clean a Junk Car Before Selling It?
Junk car buyers are used to decrepit, dusty, unwashed cars. There's no need to get a vehicle detailed before it inevitably gets crushed and sent through a metal shredder. An unwashed vehicle with a messy interior often doesn't command less in cash value than one that was recently run through the car wash. Many junk cars don't drive — which makes getting them washed increasingly difficult.
Sellers don't need to clean their junk cars before selling them. Nobody at the junkyard cares about muddy tires, pet hair on the backseat or even a layer of dirt on the windshield. Junk cars aren't bought by superficial looks. They're purchased due to the quality of the remaining parts and the weight of metal that can be crushed and recycled.
Is My Junk Car Worth Less If It's Undrivable?
Undrivable vehicles still hold value to a junk car buyer, though they are worth less than those that remain drivable. Decrepit vehicles that no longer turn on generally have a host of mechanical problems that will affect the value of any salvageable parts. If the engine doesn't work, for example, the junk car buyer can no longer sell the engine to another buyer. This automatically docks money off of any offer they can provide to the seller. The same goes for other major parts, such as the transmission.
Junk car buyers will buy undrivable cars, as they can be parted out as effectively as possible before heading to the metal shredder. Regardless of their ability to drive, all cars have value in their weight in scrap metal. The condition of the parts under the hood doesn't make a difference at this point.
What Should I Do If I Am Getting Lowball Offers for My Junk Car?
Once you've determined a fair value for your junk car, you should compare offers from multiple junk car buyers in your area. This could be a combination of local junkyards, private buyers, and online junk car buyers. Once you've collected a range of offers, there will be some clear lowballs and some fair offerings as well. If the seller determines them to all be in the "lowball" range, this may be the time to lower expectations.
To get the most money for your junk car, some basic mechanical knowledge will be necessary. You can part out the engine, transmission, catalytic converter, and other high-value components and sell them individually before scrapping the metal body of your car for a couple of hundred dollars.
Does It Cost Money to Junk My Car?
No, it does not cost money to junk a car. The only time a seller may need to pay to legally junk a car is when they don't have a title of ownership. Duplicate titles cost around $35. This can significantly increase the value of the junk car, sometimes by over $100! While this isn't a fee set forth by the junk car buyer, many states have rules and regulations around when a car can and can't be junked without a title.
If a junk car buyer is insisting that the seller pay them for junking a car, this should be considered a red flag. The cost of towing should be baked into the final price offered by the buyer and not charged separately to the owner.
How Do I Know If My Junk Car Has Any Valuable Parts?
For junk cars that were continuously operated before they became too expensive to repair, owners should be confident that they still have all their parts remaining under the hood. Many junk car buyers won't purchase cars that are missing parts such as the engine or the transmission — as this is where much of the value lies when salvaging a car for parts.
Even if you don't have an extensive background of mechanical experience, many drivers should be able to pop the hood and glance at what's underneath. If the engine is missing, this should be noted on any online form on a junk car buyer's website, as this will affect the offer. Catalytic converters are a popular item targeted by thieves. If the converter has been stolen, this should also be noted. Regardless of a junk car's operability, they often hold value in various parts that remain on the car — such as doors, fenders, GPS and audio systems, and engines and transmissions that can be removed, refurbished, and resold for profit.