Considering how much time we spend buying a vehicle and taking care of it, junking a car is remarkably easy. JUST contact a salvage yard, make a deal, complete some paperwork, trade the car for cash…DONE!

But wait, what was that paperwork thing? No biggie; you just need the standard vehicle forms. But if your car is unregistered, it might take a little more work to junk it. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to present to the salvagers when you hand over your car, and what to do if you’re missing some documents. When you’re ready to get rid of your clunker, Junk Car Medics will diagnose your junk car woes with cash.

First of all, you should be aware that keeping an unregistered junk car around is asking for trouble. In some areas, the law requires any car on your property to be registered. If you don’t know your local ordinance, check it out. These regulations often come with fines attached. 

The lawmakers aren’t trying to just raise money through the DMV. When owners don’t register cars, a lot of them are left sitting around, deteriorating. They become eyesores. As the cars rust out, their fluids leak, polluting the environment. Animals can take up residence. Great for the critters; bad for the earth.

If you live under one of these junk car laws, either get that vehicle registered or get rid of it fast. You might just get a warning…at first. But if you don’t fix the problem, fines can run into the hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, if you junk it, you’ll get money.

So what do you need to present to salvagers when you junk your car? Rules vary a bit from state to state, and your junkyard can give you specific details and offer guidance if you’re missing an essential form. Generally, though, if you have the title, you’re golden. That’s proof of ownership, and salvagers just need to know you’re not trying to sell your neighbor’s noisy, air polluting rust bucket. (Not that you would.)

If your title is MIA, you can get a replacement from the DMV, but it will probably take a little time. You should do is ASAP. But if you’re in a hurry (remember those fines!), you might be able to substitute your driver’s license and the car’s registration. But whoops! You’ve let the registration lag. You now have an unregistered vehicle. Are you in trouble?

Probably not. You flaked on the registration (or let it run out on purpose), but you still have the old tag and card. In many states that’s enough. Lucked out on that one.

What if you don’t have the old registration either? (Seriously? Are you sure you own this car?) You could consider visiting the ol’ DMV to get a duplicate. In some cases, an insurance card and your license might do the trick. (We’ll talk later about a better organizational system for your documents. Seriously, everything is gone?) If you don’t have any of those forms and can’t get your hands on them, you might very well be doomed. Or at least the car sale is.

A salvage yard will tell you what you’re going to need to make the exchange, so be ready for the question. That means knowing if you have the title and realizing if you’re missing your registration. If there’s an issue when the tow truck comes to pick up your car, the whole deal may be delayed. And I’m sure you had plans for that cash…so when you’re making arrangements with the salvage yard, let them know if paperwork is going to be an issue.

Some states give you other options. For instance in some states if your car is with out a title it must be 

  • X years old or older, and
  • worth less than $X

…a Licensed Vehicle Remover is then permitted to recycle it. Your salvagers can tell you if your state offers any extra special bonuses.

Some unfortunate folks have property littered with an unregistered vehicle or two that don’t belong to them. Persons known or unknown have dumped the cars, and the landowners have no idea when and if the junkers will be collected. (We’re guessing never, but who knows?)

If this is your plight, your best bet is to contact your local police station. They can explain what to do if you have an abandoned vehicle. Take care of it by the book, and that book can’t be thrown at you later.

Having all the paperwork ready — every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed –makes the process of junking your car super simple. (If you’re sentimental about your old jalopy, however, you may have some emotions to deal with. For that you’re on your own.) But if there’s a problem with your forms (such as your junk car being unregistered) there’s also a solution. Junk Car Medics will help you determine what you need, and then give you a fair price for your junker.