Junkyard – Definition, Types, & What They Do

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    A junkyard is a place where metal is discarded so it can be harvested for scrap. This is different from a garbage dump because there is still some value in what's left there. It's called a junkyard largely because the staff specializes in junk cars, or cars that are no longer of use to the owner. There is typically a dismantler on the premises, or someone who pulls apart the vehicles so the metal can be collected.

    Junkyards don't just recycle and resell metal, they properly dispose of hazardous materials, such as old oil from a car. If you're planning to work with a junkyard, you may hear the same place referred to as different businesses. There is no difference between a wrecking yard and a junkyard. People use different terms depending on where they're from. Someone in Canada might say wrecking yard, while someone in America might say junkyard. When a car reaches its end of life, about 95% of them are recycled through junkyards, and around 80% of the car is reusable.

    Junkyards contain a number of tools to assist with the dismantling, including machine-powered saws, wire strippers, balers, fork trucks, and handlers. They may also have roll-off trailers to move vehicles from one area of the yard to another. The operations, costs, and licenses of a yard will depend on the state where they're located, and different junkyards may offer very different cash payouts to people based on their operational expenses. (It can cost around $38,000 or more to open a junkyard.)

    Junkyards specialize in buying and recycling junk cars. They may also take other types of vehicles, but they're known for having the skills and tools needed to recycle a car for its metal. Junk cars are defined as any vehicle that would cost too much to repair than the car is worth as a whole.

    What Is the Definition of a Junkyard?

    A junkyard is defined as a place where scrap metal can be collected. Junkyard owners will sell scrap metal to manufacturers, so it can be turned into other goods. You may see piles of rusted metal or compacted crushed cars if you visit the junkyard. The name is a reference to a synonym for trash (as in, many people will call garbage 'junk'). However, junkyards can be extremely valuable places for the right person because the metal in old cars can be turned into anything from new cars to a new bridge.

    Here are some other things that you might see while you're in a junkyard:

    • Junk cars: You will see junk cars in various conditions if you visit a junkyard. Some will be old and rusted through before they're dismantled. Others will be crushed as the staff prepares them to be sold for the metal. You may see bales of metal while you're there (like a bale of hay). These are cars in their final phase, as they're ready to be sold to manufacturers by weight.
    • Car parts: A junkyard staff will dismantle a car for its parts. The parts that they take will depend on how much storage space they have, who they sell to, and what kind of local and regional demand there is for each part. Some junkyards will sell parts on sites like eBay, but many will only sell to local consumers and mechanics. You may see engines, transmissions, alternators, or seats in a junkyard.
    • Tires: Tires that are old and balding can be used to make synthetic turf, playgrounds, flooring, roads, etc. Tires with plenty of life can still be resold to drivers. Tires are one of the easiest parts on the car to remove. It could be beneficial to sell your tires if they're new.

    What Are the Other Names of junkyard?

    Wrecking yard, dismantler, salvage yard, vehicle junkyards, auto salvage yards, breaker's yard, or scrap heap can all be used as other names of junkyards. All of these synonyms refer to places that will dismantle a wrecked or non-operating vehicle for its parts.

    Junkyards are called different names depending on where you live. In Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, people might be more likely to say wrecking yard. In Britain and Ireland, they might refer to it as a scrap yard. In America, people are more likely to say junkyard. The difference between a scrap yard and junkyard in America is that junkyards specialize in buying junk cars, dismantling them, harvesting the parts, and then recycling the metal. Scrap yards will work with all kinds of metals, whether it comes from old appliances, bikes, etcc.

    Salvage yards and junkyards will buy and sell scrap metal, essentially acting as a broker. They'll work with zinc, lead, aluminum, copper, brass, steel, and iron on any given day. Owners of an automotive salvage yard will buy old vehicles so they can either be recycled or repaired. Owners of a scrap yard will do the same, but may also collect bikes, boats, motorcycles, appliances, or other electronics. A junkyard will sell their metal to refineries or other dealers. The specifics of a yard will depend on the owner. For instance, some junkyards will have a weight limit on the vehicles they accept.

    Do Junkyards Buy Cars?

    Yes, junkyards buy cars of all types. They typically buy junk cars, or cars that are nearing or at the end of their lives. Junkyards will salvage the cars for their reusable parts and then sell off the remaining shell for scrap metal.

    What Kinds of Vehicles Are Junked in Junkyards?

    Vehicles that are no longer worth fixing are typically junked in junkyards. This can include cars that have been totaled in an accident, but may also refer to cars that are in the repair shop far too often. It's a myth that only cars that aren't running should be in the junkyard. Many people will take in their cars if they're unreliable.

    Junkyards will take cars that are in working condition. Some people will go through this service if they don't want to haggle with a dealer or with consumers. However, if you want to earn as much as possible for a used car, you're typically better off taking the car to a dealer or going through a private sale instead.

    It's important to know what kind of restrictions a junkyard has before contacting them. For instance, if a business offers free towing services, they may have a limit on what kinds of cars they can tow. You'll usually need the keys and a copy of the title to meet the business' acceptance conditions.

    Do Junkyards Buy Junk Cars With No Title?

    When possible junkyards will buy junk cars with no title. The true determing factor is the local law in your state. If law allows for a car to be junked with no title then most junkyards will. Junkyards will then follow the necessary steps to process the junk car.  For cars missing titles call around to find junkyards that buy cars with no title.

    What Are the Types of Junkyards?

    The types of junkyars are defined by the vehicles that they accept. Some junkyards may not have the capacity for larger vehicles, like RV. Some may distinguish themselves based on the types of cars they accept. For instance, a junkyard that only accepts BMW or Mercedes vehicles. There is no singular definition, so it's important to do some research before you decide which car scrap yard business to work with.

    How does a Junkyard operate?

    Junkyards operate by buying cars that are no longer road-worthy. The staff typically dismantles the car and then sells it for the parts and scrap metal, though some will restore cars and then sell them whole.

    Junkyards are extremely efficient places that reuse or recycle as much as possible. They'll remove any parts that can be resold, including axles, batteries, engines, transmissions, doors, and alternators. They'll drain Freon, brake fluid, engine oil, and fuel, and they'll ensure that no liquids are spilled into the environment where they can contaminate soil or water sources. If the fluids are reusable, they will use it again. If it's too dirty, it will be thrown away according to local disposal rules and restrictions.

    If your battery is dead, the lead in it will need to be removed and recycled before the casing can be reused (likely for another car battery). After all the parts have been removed and metals have been harvested, the heavy metal in the car will be crushed and shredded. Magnets will be used to separate the steel so it can be loaded separately into another container.

    How did Junkyards operate in 20th Century?

    Junkyards operated very differently in the 20th Century. These companies were working with more primitive technologies. Back then, wrecking yards were more like a hobby club than a bonafide business. It was all very hands-on, meaning that junkyards couldn't always take very many cars.

    Today, new tools like balers and roll-off vehicles make it easier to scrap cars faster and with greater efficiency. Machine saws make it possible to cut through extremely thick pieces of metal. Fork trucks make it possible to transport them, and handlers are used to sort the metal into different areas (e.g., ferrous metals are grouped together). Balers will bundle crushed and shredded metal together to make for easier transport.

    How do Junkyards use Internet in 21th Century?

    Junkyards largely use the internet to help customers learn more about what they can offer to them. Because they can work with more cars, thanks to new technology in the 21st Century, these businesses can increase their volume of customers. They may offer free quoting tools on their website. This allows people to do easy research without having to call anyone for the answer. Junkyards may also use the internet to arrange towing times or to communicate with their customers about the terms and conditions of the deal.

    The internet has also made it risky for some people to turn their car into a junkyard. Some companies are attempting to scam victims. If they use a shell of a website, the perpetrator may be able to convince a car owner to put down a deposit first. Some will even try to get you to sell them a car without a title, only so they can sue you later one. We recommend working with someone who has a good reputation in their industry, so you don't end up involved in a scam.

    Do Junkyards tow vehicles to wrecking area?

    Most junkyards will tow vehicles to the wrecking area. Some may charge a fee for this service, while others will bake the costs of the tow by offering a slightly lower price for the car. You should do research about how different yards deal with car transport. Beware of junkyards that don't specify what they charge and then try to nickel and dime you for the tow.

    Why Do Junkyards Have a Warehouse?

    Junkyards may have a warehouse to store scrap metal and other parts before they can be sold or recycled. A lack of a warehouse impacts the amount of storage space that a junkyard owner has, which in turn affects how much money they make. If they're unable to store parts that can be resold, it may mean that they offer you a lower price for a junk car. You can maximize your offer by getting several junkyard quotes.

    What Car Parts Are Valuable to Junkyards?

    The most valuable car parts to junkyards include:

    • Engine/transmission: These can have a new life in another car if they're still working. If these parts are too damaged or old, the aluminum inside is often worth more than steel.
    • Air Conditioning: The compressor in the AC can either be reused or remanufactured.
    • Alternator/starter: These parts can be stripped for the copper wires located in the steel cases.
    • Radiator: Like the engine, this piece has a lot of aluminum if it can't be resold.
    • Catalytic convertor: The convertor contains precious metals, like palladium and rhodium, which are valuable even if the converter doesn't function.
    • Wheels/tires: These can be sold separately if they're in good condition, and the first thing you should remove if you want to make a few extra bucks from the sale.
    • GPS/Audio: These systems, particularly if they're aftermarket, may still be worth some money if removed and sold on their own.
    • Airbags: Airbags need to be replaced every time they go off, which has created a major secondary market for them.
    • Seats: If your seats are in good condition, they can be removed and put into older cars to restore them.

    These make up a list of some of the most valuable scrap car parts.

    How do Junkyards sell old car items?

    Junkyards typically sell old car items through a shop or online. They may list parts out individually for consumers or they may work with mechanics in the area who are looking for used parts. In general, though, old car items don't always have a high demand. Once a car is junked, it means that most of the components are no longer functioning anymore. Certain models, like a Ford Taurus, may not have any demand at all.

    Junkyards will price their items based on the demand. An engine in good condition may sell for up to $5,000, while a catalytic convertor or transmission could sell for around $1,200 or so. When selling items, junkyard owners have to take into account the type of car and the popularity of its parts in the area. They will have limited space in an item repository and may limit their storage to only the most profitable parts.

    What kinds of car items do Junkyards sell?

    junkyards will sell engines, transmissions, alternators, tires, airbags, seats, audio and GPS systems, catalytic convertors, and air conditioning compressors. In some cases, they will remove the item and sell it whole. In others, they will strip the most valuable parts from the item and sell those to different parties. For instance, they will remove the precious metal from a catalytic converter or the copper from inside the wires of the car.

    What tools do junkyards use?

    Junkyards will use the following tools to dismantle cars:

    • General toolbox: Handheld tools are still important, as employees will need everything from wrenches to hammers to dismantle a car.
    • Machine-powered saws: These are necessary if workers need to cut through big chunks of metal to get to more valuable components innside.
    • Fork trucks: A fork truck looks a lot like a regular truck but has two giant tongs in front of it. This fork makes it possible to load and lift materials and move them from one spot to another.
    • Wire stripper: A wire stripper will take off the insulation the copper wires are surrounded by. Junkyards will have various sizes of wire strippers, as different cables in the car will have different insulation.
    • Balers: This is the tool that crushes the metal, cuts it into certain sizes, and then turns it into a bale of metal. This piece of equipment is extremely efficient, even with extremely large vehicles.
    • Handlers: A material handler comes equipped with manets that are used to pick up metals and then sort them into the correct pile. Handlers have shears that make it possible to split large metals apart so they're easier to process.
    • Roll-off trailers: These tools are similar to a fork truck in that they can be used to move heavy equipment from one part of the yard to the other.

    Is the Car Crusher the most important machine in a Junkyard?

    Yes, the car crusher or baler is the most important machine in a junkyard because that's what will cut the car down to size. It's certainly not the only important tool in a junkyard, as junkyard staff will need the saws and trailers to ensure smooth operations. However, without the crusher, there would be no way to efficiently break the car down. This tool is what allows junkyards to process multiple vehicles, so it's as important for their profit margins as it is for your individual offer.

    How many Junkyards exist in the US?

    There are more than 8,000 scrap yard companies in the US, according to Popular Mechanics. The largest ones are scattered around the country, though Arizona has two of the top 10 biggest yards.

    What are Junkyard Statistics?

    Here are some junkyard statistics:

    • Junkyards can supply parts to consumers that are 20 - 80% less than new parts.
    • One billion tires reach the end of their life every year.
    • 15 - 20% of the car is known as Auto Shredder Residue, which does end up in a landfill.
    • Just one poorly performed oil change can contaminate a million gallons of fresh water.
    • Steel is the most recycled metal in America, and junkyards provide 40% of it.
    • 20% of junkyards have one employee only - the owner.
    • 86% of all junkyards are classified as small businesses and have fewer than 10 employees.
    • $25 billion is generated by the auto industry every year.
    • Around 8 million cars are recycled in Europe per year, while 12 million are recycled in America per year.
    • 46,000 people are employed in the US thanks to auto recyclers.

    Which states in the US have a higher need for Junkyards?

    States like California, Florida, and New York have a higher need for vehicle yards due to their population sizes. The more drivers, the more cars on the road, the more people will need a place to take them to when those cars eventually die.

    What is the cost of car wrecking to Junkyards?

    Car wrecking costs depend on the quality of the equipment used, the costs of land upkeep, and the labor used to dismantle the car. Some junkyard owners will have to spend around $40,000 just to get their yard up and running. If they have to lease a large plot of land, this will affect their overall cost of car wrecking. You should get several quotes from junkyards as the amount that they can offer you will be directly tied to how much it costs to operate the yard.

    How to understand whether your vehicle can be wrecked or not?

    Call the junkyard to understand whether your vehicle can be wrecked or not. A wrecked car is a totaled car, which means that is not worth the cost of being repaired. Different junkyards will have different criteria. In general, all vehicles can be wrecked, but the specifics may vary by state or by business. When you call, an employee will tell you more about their policies, so you know for sure before you have them pick up the car or tow it in yourself.

    How does Insurance know whether a car is totaled or not?

    Insurance knows if a car is totaled when the cost of repairs is more than the cash value. So if the vehicle is worth $3,500, and it needs $4,000 to repair, this would be a totaled car. Insurance carriers will make their decision based on the mechanic's estimates.

    How to Calculate How Much Junkyards Pay for Cars?

    Calculate money by using a reputable free estimate calculator. Your junk car may be worth more or less than the national average depending on the make and model. If you have a high-demand vehicle and some of its parts are in good shape, this is a good sign that you'll get more from junking it. Many junk car services offer free evaluations online, so you can easily compare and contrast how much junkyards pay for cars.

    How to Classify Junkyard Synonyms and Businesses?

    Junkyard synonyms and businesses are largely regional. So a person in one part of the country might call it a scrap heap, while someone else calls it a scrap yard. It can become confusing because not everyone will know the differences between the two. A scrap yard will deal with any kind of metal. A junkyard specializes in junk cars. However, this may not be apparent if you're speaking with someone in casual conversation. They may use the terms as synonyms.

    Other businesses, like salvage yards, may try to restore vehicles, while others will simply work with the scrap metal. To learn how each one functions, you may need to call and ask a few basic questions or check the business' website to see how they work.

    What is the difference between a Junkyard and a Wrecking Yard?

    The difference between a junkyard and wrecking yard is the terminology. In New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, they would refer to it as wrecking yard. Americans would call the same business a junkyard. Both terms refer to businesses that collect metal for resale. They will dismantle and crush cars so that the steel, iron, and other metals can be recycled for future use. Junkyards and wrecking yards play pivotal roles in the environment as they both reduce the production of new goods.

    What is the Difference between a Junkyard and a Salvage Yard?

    The difference between a junkyard and a salvage yard is the terminology. Some people may call it a salvage yard while others refer to it as a junkyard. Some yards may have different specialities though. For instance, a junkyard or a salvage yard may only work on certain types of vehicles. They may have different relationships with auto professionals in the area.

    What is the operation difference between a Junkyard and Scrap Yard?

    The operation difference between a junkyard and scrap yard is that a junkyard largely works with junk cars and a scrap yard will work with all types of metal. So you might turn in your old car to a junkyard and an old refrigerator to a scrap yard. You will need to call different businesses in your area to determine what they will take and how the items will be handled. For instance, some junkyards may not accept working vehicles, while others will resell them through auctions or directly to another party.

    Scroll to Top