Junkyard – Definition, Types, & What They Do

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    Junkyards are where scrap metal from vehicles, large appliances, and other items are sold. These yards purchase scrap to resell it to other consumers or recycling facilities by weight, who will shred the metal and separate it by value. There are various types of junkyards, also called wrecking yards, auto salvage yards, car dismantlers, and car recyclers.

    These yards will dismantle junk cars for parts, store the inventory, and sell these components to local mechanics and the general public. Some junkyards also sell parts via the Internet, utilizing websites such as eBay to reach buyers worldwide. Junkyards are important for the recycling and disposal of cars, boats, and RVs. After salvaging usable parts, the yards can save the community thousands of dollars by selling used parts at a fraction of the cost compared to OEM parts from the dealership.

    Junkyards help to keep vehicles on the road for years to come. When repair expenses rise, some drivers head to the junkyard to purchase salvaged parts to keep their ride drivable. This lowers the need for part production, an expensive industry that adds carbon to the environment. Many consumers rely on junkyards as an affordable option when repairing their vehicles.

    What is a Junkyard?

    A junkyard is a place that buys and sells junk cars, as well as other junk appliances and scrap metal. A junkyard has many names, such as wrecking yards, salvage yards, dismantlers, breaker yards, and scrap heaps. These names are synonymous with a place that dismantles wrecked and otherwise non-operational vehicles and salvage usable parts and components for resale. Depending on the locale, different names will be used. For instance, junkyard is a common term in the United States, while Canada prefers wrecking yards. In the UK, the popular name is a scrap yard.

    Junkyards profit by selling salvageable parts like engines, light housings, side-view mirrors, etc. These parts can be purchased and used on other vehicles of the same make and model. This reduces costs for drivers who don't want to spend hundreds, if not thousands, on brand-new vehicle parts. Some junkyards opt to provide additional services, such as installing parts, though many sell them.

    What Can Be Found in a Junkyard?

    Despite popular understanding, junkyards aren't only for junk cars. They take all types of junk appliances and vehicles — including boats, RVs, buses, washing and drying machines, and other household appliances. The public is often welcome at local junkyards. They can find salvage parts for their vehicles or appliances, such as refrigerators.

    Junkyards sell vehicles and scrap parts, enabling them to diversify and expand their profits. Depending on the vehicle, they may keep it whole and try to sell it as-is. Other times, the vehicle is only worth the sum of its parts, and the yard will remove the transmission, GPS and audio system, engine, mufflers, and even windshields. Depending on what parts are in high demand, which depends upon the location and the make and model of the vehicle, the junkyard will sell parts accordingly.

    What Are the Different Names of Junkyards?

    Depending on the location, a junkyard can go by one of several names. In Canada and Australia, wrecking yards are the common reference to a junkyard. In the UK, wrecking yards or scrap yards reign supreme. Junkyards are mainly used in the United States. All of these names refer to the same basic business model — to buy and resell vehicles that have been wrecked, totaled, or otherwise decommissioned and to salvage valuable parts and components that can be flipped for profit.

    Junkyards A yard that purchases vehicles with salvageable parts that can then be resold. Junkyards also take other appliances and large equipment, as well as boats.
    Auto Salvage Yards A yard specializing in the junk industry's automotive aspect, including cars, buses, and RVs. Auto salvage yards buy and resell vehicles, including components that have been removed and resold individually.
    Wrecking Yards A location specializing in dismantling wrecked or otherwise inoperable vehicles to resell for parts. Similar to junkyards and auto salvage yards, just a different name — more common in Canada and Australia.
    Car Dismantlers A business that focuses on dismantling old and decommissioned vehicles to sell functional parts for profit. Same business model as junkyards, auto salvage yards, and wrecking yards.
    Car Recyclers Car recyclers dismantle vehicles for valuable spare parts. There is less focus on salvaging all usable parts of a vehicle and more on recycling the vehicle by getting it ready for being crushed, shredded, and melted down.

    What is the Purpose of a Junkyard?

    Junkyards not only serve as blue-collar employers in many communities, but they also benefit the public and the environment. From a business standpoint, junkyards buy and sell junk cars and their various parts and components. These items may include engines, transmissions, alternators, tires, airbags, and audio systems. Some junkyards may sell whole junk cars for those seeking a project car. Most junkyards strip these scrap cars for parts and sell the individual pieces to interested parties.

    Junkyards are locations where wrecked and totaled vehicles can be taken. Many neighborhoods have rules against inoperable cars in the driveway or on the street, visible to the public. Usable parts from the junkyard can be resold at steep discounts. The public and mechanics can purchase individual parts to repair a vehicle for a cheaper cost when compared to brand-new OEM parts.

    Environmentally, junkyards help to reduce the carbon footprint of the automotive industry as a whole. They provide less demand for part manufacturing, which is expensive and energy-intensive.

    How Does a Junkyard Operate?

    There are many daily operations that a junkyard must successfully run to stay in business. It costs nearly $40,000 to start a junkyard, which can quickly add up over time if the business doesn't become profitable quickly. Junkyards may invest in marketing to encourage the local public to sell vehicles to the yard. Without enough public interest and business, including the buying and selling vehicles and used parts, a junkyard is at risk of going out of business.

    Junkyards don't just recycle and resell vehicles and components. They're also responsible for disposing of hazardous liquids such as Freon, engine oil, brake fluid, and fuel. These liquids can't simply be dumped, which harms the soil and the water sources nearby. Junkyards safely dispose of these hazards and dead batteries that must be responsibly recycled.

    Once a junkyard salvages any usable parts on a junk car, it sells the remaining metal frame, which can be shredded and sorted using magnets, to a recycler. The junkyard can sell the frame based on weight, giving them additional profit from the vehicle they salvaged and resold parts.

    Are Junkyards Open on Sundays?

    Are Junkyards Open on Sundays?

    Most junkyards are closed on Sundays. However, it is possible to find a junkyard that is open on Sundays, though it may be more difficult. If you want to sell your junk car on a Sunday, you may need to search for a junkyard open on that day or consider alternative options, such as selling your car to a private buyer or dealership. Remember that junkyards may have different operating hours and policies, so it is best to check with the specific junkyard you are interested in before visiting.

    Junk Car Medics is a nationwide junkyard that allows customers to get offers for junk cars 7 days a week. If they cannot provide junk car removal services on Sundays in your city, they will try to schedule the removal on the next business day. Junk Car Medics will buy any make or model of car and does not require the keys or title as long as you have a copy of your license and vehicle registration.

    Do They Sell Car Parts at the Junkyard?

    Yes, junkyards sell car parts to the public and specialized buyers such as mechanics. This is one of the main aspects of a junkyard's business, and by removing or salvaging used car parts, the yard can pay better car prices. Once a vehicle has been scrapped for all of its valuable parts, the junkyard can crush the frame and sell it to a recycler — such as a scrap yard that breaks the metal down further and sorts it out.

    Used car parts often sell for 20%-80% less than new parts at the junkyard. This enables drivers to keep their vehicles on the road for longer due to cheaper replacement parts. Mechanics can refurbish a junkyard car part and use it as a replacement for a vehicle in their shop.

    Do Junkyards Purchase Junk Car Parts?

    Yes, junkyards will purchase junk car parts. Junkyards usually purchase junk cars and then salvage usable parts. Sometimes, they will be interested in purchasing valuable scrap car parts individually — such as engines, transmissions, and potentially catalytic converters in good condition. These junk car parts must be in working order, apart from the converter, which can be scrapped for metal instead of resold to be used as a replacement part.

    Do Junkyards Purchase Junk Cars?

    Yes, junkyards purchase junk cars. This is the number one priority of a junkyard's business model. Without junk cars, there would be no junk car parts and scrap metal to sell to a recycler. Junkyards purchase junk cars from the public once a vehicle has reached its end of life. This can be due to a wreck or simply as a vehicle gets old and begins to break down, becoming unreliable and too expensive to repair.

    Junkyards provide offers for junk cars based on the car's make, model, year, and condition. Junk cars that are damaged on the exterior but have valuable interior working components are worth a fair price to a junkyard, as they can remove and resell the parts. Read more about what is a junk car.

    How Much Do Junkyards Pay for Cars?

    The average price a junkyard will pay for a car varies between $100 and $500, depending on the vehicle's make, model, year, and condition. Junkyards will pay more for high-demand vehicles with internal parts in good resale condition. Junkyards pay in cash and provide towing services once they purchase the vehicle.

    A 2010 Toyota Corolla can bring in $1150+ when junked, as the make and model are in high demand. Toyotas are notoriously reliable and inexpensive to fix. This may enable the junkyard to sell the car whole or parted out for the engine, transmission, and various replacement parts for other Corollas. In comparison, a 2012 Nissan Altima may bring in $667. This is still higher than average, indicating the make and model have relatively good demand.  How much do junkyards pay for cars? The answer varies by the car.

    Junkyards may offer less per junk car with low-profit margins and high overhead. Other yards, with healthier margins and less overhead, can provide fairer quotes to sellers. Comparing quotes is recommended to receive the best price for a junk car.

    Junk Car Medics provides the best prices for junk cars and makes it easy to sell a vehicle hassle-free.

    How Profitable is a Junkyard?

    The profit margins of a particular junkyard depend on where it is located. Profit margins can range from 20% to 70%. Locations near city centers with millions of people do better than those in a more rural area. They have more access to a customer base, and locals will be more likely to sell their old cars to the closest junkyard. Junkyards try to keep its overhead low to offer fair quotes and make larger monthly profits.

    Junkyards with successful advertising and marketing strategies are more likely to bring in more cash each month. The more familiar the residents are with their brand, the stronger the trust within the community is. The type of junk a yard deals in is also important, such as what types of vehicles they buy and whether they specialize in a specific make and model that's in demand.

    Profit for a brand-new yard with a single employee (the owner) may be as low as $1,000. Some yards may not profit much as they begin to build their business. Other national junkyards can make tens of thousands of dollars each month. Large junkyards, such as more land and larger warehouses, often have higher storage costs.

    Are Junkyards Good for Business?

    Yes, junkyards can be good for business. Junkyards can make a healthy profit depending on the type of property they are located on and how much it costs to maintain the land, buildings, and storage units each month. Many junkyards don't have many employees, which decreases the cost of salaries, insurance, and other benefits employers offer.

    Junkyards are location-dependent as many people won't drive long distances to reach a yard unless they have a rare part. Junkyards should be built near a populous town or city to garner enough business to stay profitable.

    What Tools Do Junkyards Use?

    Junkyards rely on a wide range of tools to operate daily. Not all tools are heavy machinery, as employees often get their hands dirty by removing salvageable parts. A solid-built junk car tool kit can go a long way in a junkyard, though it's not a replacement for the massive car-crushing machines that flatten vehicle frames once they've been parted out.


    Various handheld tools can help employees dismantle a vehicle inside a toolbox. Many of these tools are used by mechanics to unscrew, loosen, and otherwise remove parts from under the hood and within the interior cabin. Doors, taillights, and tires can be removed using basic tools.

    Machine Saws

    These heavy-duty saws are necessary when employees need to cut through thick pieces of metal. This can be the case when workers are trying to access more valuable pieces with a higher resale value.

    Fork Trucks

    Fork trucks have two large tongs in front, which go under heavy objects to move and load them to other junkyard areas. This can include large appliances and heavy car pieces, such as engines and transmissions.

    Roll-Off Trailers

    Roll-off trailers are another option that junkyards have when they need to move heavy objects around the junkyard, such as into the warehouse for storage and inventory purposes.

    Wire Strippers

    This tool is helpful when removing the insulation around copper wires, allowing access to the valuable copper. Junkyards keep a range of sizes, as different cables within a vehicle have different insulation.


    Balers are used to crush metal and cut it into predetermined sizes. Then, the metal is turned into a bale of metal transportable to other locations.


    Handlers can use magnets to sort metals, such as ferrous and non-ferrous, into piles. Handlers will also use shears to split large chunks of metal apart, making them easier to process and recycle.

    Is Car Crusher the Most Important Machine In a Wrecking Yard?

    Car crushers are among the most important machines in a junkyard or wrecking yard. This powerful machinery allows the yard to reduce bulky junk cars into flattened slabs. This makes transporting scrap cars via truck or train to a recycling facility easier. At a recycling facility or a scrap yard, the crushed vehicles can be put through the metal shredder, which breaks the metal down further and sorts it into separate piles depending on whether it's iron-based.

    These machines help to boost the profits of the wrecking yard. There is no other way to break down a junk car efficiently. With a crusher, yards can process several vehicles simultaneously, allowing the junkyard to make better offers on junk cars without harming their margins.

    A car crusher can be either portable or stationary. Many of the older models of car crushers are stationary, which is suitable for many wrecking yards since they don't need to move from their location. These days, some junkyards seek to save money by splitting the costs of one car crusher between several yards. These portable crushers can be traded off during the month, providing everybody a turn to use them.

    Car crushers can flatten a vehicle's frame once it has been stripped of valuable parts, such as engines, transmissions, and other components that the junkyard will sell to mechanics and the public for a discounted rate. Crushers can crush large appliances like fridges, dishwashers, and washing machines.

    What Kind of Vehicles Are Junked In Junkyards?

    Many types of vehicles get sold to junkyards every year. Some will be in poor condition after being totaled by insurance and undrivable due to a wreck. Others may look in decent exterior condition, but many mechanical issues make the vehicle no longer suitable to repair and continue driving.

    Depending on the wrecking yard, there may be several conditions that a vehicle must meet before it is purchased. Many junkyards rely on being able to salvage usable parts to resell to increase profits. If the vehicle is completely wrecked and has poor components, such as a faulty engine or a busted transmission, the junkyard may be uninterested in purchasing it. If they do, it will be for a lower cost than a junk vehicle with several thousand dollars worth of resalable parts.

    How Many Junkyards Exist in the US?

    According to Popular Mechanics, there are more than 8,200 auto salvage businesses in the US. This number has grown over recent years, indicating the success of many junkyards' business model of paying cash for junk cars and selling discounted used parts to the public. The auto salvage industry in the US brings in 22 billion dollars annually, which is impressive considering that many yards only have a few employees.

    Junkyards are an employer for over 46,000 people within the United States. This number is spread across all 50 states, equating to hundreds of jobs per state. States with larger populations, such as California, Florida, New York, and Texas, need more salvage yards. More people often equate to more vehicles on the road. Therefore, more vehicles become junk each year.

    What Are the Biggest Junkyards in the USA?

    There are many local junkyards across America and the world. Some of the biggest names in the game stand out by boasting thousands of vehicles in their inventory and thousands more parts for projects and vintage cars waiting to be restored.

    1. French Lake Auto Parts

    This junkyard is 60 miles west of Minneapolis and has been in business for over 100 years. With 100+ acres of property, the yard has over 10,000 vehicles on any given day. These vehicles may be suitable for restoration projects, scrap metal recycling, and salvageable parts.

    2. CTC Auto Ranch

    This salvage yard is in Denton, Texas, an hour north of Dallas. The yard specializes in muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s. The dry climate featured in the Dallas area means that many vehicles are rust-free, making them ideal for restoration projects. The yard has over 4,000 vehicles, and the inventory changes consistently.

    3. Wildcat Auto Wrecking

    The junkyard in Oregon focuses on Chrysler vehicles, with over 800 vehicles in active inventory. Many bodies are from the 1950s through the 1970s, with many more parts in salvageable inventory. This yard sells parts from motors to glass and bumpers.

    4. Turners' Auto Wrecking

    This is a popular junkyard in California, and it began in 1928, putting it in business for nearly a century now. There are over 100 acres of vintage and classic cars and parts, making it a great place for those searching hard-to-find parts for their project cars.

    5. Old Car City USA

    This is one of the most famous junkyards in the world, boasting over 4,000 vehicles throughout 34 acres of land. The property has several miles of trails, allowing visitors to take the sights in and look at the many cars.

    What Are the Wrecking Yard Statistics?

    • Vehicles are the most recycled item in America
    • 86% of auto parts are recyclable
    • 27 million vehicles are recycled globally each year (12 million in the US)
    • 20% of junkyards have one employee — the owner
    • 86% of junkyards are classified as small businesses with fewer than 10 employees
    • $25 billion is generated by the auto industry annually
    • 46,000 people are employed within the US by auto recyclers

    What is the Cost of Car Wrecking in Junkyards?

    The cost of car wrecking varies depending on location, equipment used, costs of the land and upkeep, and the labor required to keep the junkyard operational. Many junkyards are classified as small businesses and have fewer than 10 employees. Quite a few junkyards only have one employee — the owner. Depending on the type of overhead the junkyard has, their offers on junk cars may be more or less than the competition.

    Sellers should always source several quotes before deciding on a final offer. This will provide a better idea of what the scrap car is worth. Several online resources allow sellers to calculate their car against the national junk car average, using the vehicle's make, model, and year. High-demand vehicles are worth a heftier price as the parts are in higher demand.

    Why Do Junkyards Have a Warehouse?

    Junkyards have warehouses on the property to store scrap metal and other vehicle components. This allows the junkyard to grow an inventory of valuable parts before they're sold or recycled. Without a warehouse, these parts would have nowhere to go. Leaving sought-after parts open to the elements can result in rust and other damage that would drop the value.

    Warehouses boost the profits of a junkyard. Without this valuable storage space, junkyards cannot offer more for the junk cars they buy. Profitable junkyards have hundreds if not thousands, of parts in their inventory that can be sold to various local and national buyers.

    What Makes a Good Junkyard?

    Good junkyards will have professional service, an organized lot, a warehouse for storage, and an online offering system for convenience. Many junkyards have an online presence in the form of a website. Their website should provide their hours of operation, inventory, and an easy-to-use online quote system that enables sellers to receive a fair price estimate at any hour.

    Junkyards that sell hundreds of parts a month often have an organized system for keeping updated inventory. This is generally a searchable online list sorted by the vehicle's make, model, and year. Buyers from all over the nation can search the inventory to see if their part is in stock and how much it costs.

    How to Choose the Best Junkyard?

    When seeking the best junkyard to sell a scrap car, drivers should do their homework by reading reviews and asking for quotes. Most junkyards, such as a website or social media, will have some online presence.

    Helpful questions to ask the junkyard to determine their professionalism include:

    • What are your business hours?
    • Do you work with a tow service to pick up junk cars?
    • What paperwork do you need to fill out for the sale?
    • Do you require a title of ownership?
    • Do you pay with cash or check?

    Sellers should research what their make, model, and year are worth. This can avoid any swindling on the part of the junkyard by taking advantage of a clueless seller. Junkyards with a warehouse on site can offer better prices for junk cars, as they have room to store the salvageable parts.

    Online junk car buyers such as Junk Car Medics have lower overheads, enabling them to offer better prices for junk cars. Junk Car Medics works with many junk car buyers, enabling sellers to find the best buyer for their scrap car. The online offering system is available 24/7, and sellers answer a few questions about their vehicle before receiving an offer.

    When choosing the best junkyard, drivers should remember what purpose they're seeking to fulfill. If the main goal is to find a junkyard that will pay the most for their scrap car, this goal is met by receiving several quotes and comparing the offers. If the purpose is to find a junkyard with the best inventory system for used parts, the driver should compare websites to see what type of system the yard uses to collect inventory for sale.

    How to Find Replacement Auto Parts in a Junkyard?

    Depending on how a particular junkyard operates, the public may be able to find a searchable inventory list on their website. Some junkyards keep track of their inventory, while others use helpful services to do this task. If this information isn't readily available online, consumers should call the yard and ask an employee if they can manually search for a specific part. The junkyard workers will often know what they have available or what junk cars have recently come in.

    Other junkyards have a "U-pull" system of business. This means those looking for parts must come to the yard physically with their tools. It can be tough to know how to find the best parts in a junkyard. They can search the cars on the lot, and when they find the make and model they're looking for, they can remove their parts. This saves junkyards time and money.

    Some junkyards specialize in particular makes. There are Honda junkyards, as well as Toyota and Ford specialty yards. The popularity of the model has a lot to do with whether there are junkyards that make it a point to collect parts for the brand. If there are large numbers of drivers for a particular make and model, it's more likely that the coinciding parts will inevitably sell.

    How to Sell a Junk Car to a Junkyard?

    The main source of business for a junkyard is purchasing junk cars. The public can receive quotes from junkyards to determine the best place to sell their scrap car. Depending on what type of storage the junkyard has and how they inventory their parts, some yards may be able to offer better prices due to higher profit margins.

    Drivers should follow a few basic steps to sell a car to a junkyard.

    1. Complete an online search of the local junk yards, auto salvage yards, and wrecking yards in your area
    2. Request quotes from the top few candidates, either through an online system or over the phone
    3. Choose the best offer and determine a time for the vehicle to be towed
    4. Receive cash from the tow driver or junkyard employee and finalize the sale

    In some states, the seller must notify the DMV of the junkyard sale. Research your local and state laws before selling your junk car, which will provide information on the titling requirements and how to process the sale legally.

    Can You Sell a Car to a Junkyard Without a Title?

    Yes, you can sell a car to a junkyard without a title if the local laws allow it. Some states have enacted rulings around when vehicles can be junked without a title. Depending on the vehicle's age and current condition, some junkyards can buy it without a title. Signatures showing proof of transfer and sale may be required. When possible, a replacement title can be sought by the owner. This will result in a higher cash value for the junk car.

    Your best offer awaits