Scrap Yard vs. Junkyard (Salvage Yard): Money, Process and Definition Differences

Scrap yards and junkyards will both recycle metal, but scrap yards specialize in buying metal in bulk. A junkyard or salvage yard specializes in buying cars, sorting out what’s salvagable and what isn’t, and reselling car parts. How they operate and what they accept comes down to the individual business in question. Some scrap yards may not take certain types of metal, and some junkyards may only take certain types of cars (e.g., BMWs only). You may be able to make more money for your belongings when you understand more about the different kinds of yards in your area.

Automotive salvage yards are sometimes called junkyards in America. They may be called scrap yards, even when this isn’t strictly the case. (How people refer to them depends on where they live and where they’re from.) A salvage yard is known for taking autos that have been either wrecked in an accident or otherwise broken down. However, they’ll technically take any kind of car if the owner is willing to part with it. Salvage yards will take old vehicles, strip them for parts if possible, and then recycle the metal in the car. Before cars are crushed, all fluids are drained and parts are evaluated based on their condition and demand.

Which one pays more for dismantled cars, Scrap Yard or Salvage Yard?

Salvage yards pay more for junk cars because they specialize in cars. If your car has parts that can be resold, a salvage yard owner will be able to efficiently dismantle the car. They’ll know who’s interested in buying the parts and how they can price the parts to move. They may even have a warehouse or storage space to keep rare parts until they can find a buyer. A scrap yard is only going to buy the car for the metal. They’ll look at a car purely by weight, and not by the other usable components in a car.

So let’s say you have an old Honda Accord with a new engine. That engine might be worth $3,000 if it’s taken from the car and resold, which would make your car worth significantly more. A scrap yard may give you less than $500 for scrap metal, and the employees may not even listen to you if you try to tell them that the engine is new. Or in the case of a larger SUV, a scrap yard may not even be able to take it if they don’t have the equipment to move it.

Most junkyards will pull parts off the car that they know they can sell directly. Any parts that aren’t pulled may either be crushed with the rest of the car or made available to anyone interested (and motivated) enough to do the work themselves. Most old cars don’t have very many new parts on them, which is the reason why the average offer for a junk car isn’t very much. Even parts that are new may break down faster in an old car, or they may not have very much demand for them in the first place. The exact price you get for your junk car depends on the local demand in your area and, to an extent, around the world. The rule to remember, though, is that you’ll make more at the junk yard than at a salvage yard.

What is a Salvage Yard (Junkyard)?

A junkyard or salvage yard is a business that specializes in buying old cars. These yards will take newer cars or cars that are in good condition, but this is not their primary purpose. If you have a car that runs great, you’ll likely make more selling either to a dealer, trading it in for a better vehicle, or selling it to a private party. Salvage yards will likely have relationships with mechanics in the area. They’ll also responsibly recycle not just the metal in the car, but also the fluids, tires, seats, etc.

Salvage yards are incredibly important to the environment and the economy. They sell parts that are up to 80% cheaper than new parts, passing down valuable savings to budget-strapped families and individuals. They recycle up to 85% of the car, saving countless tons of junk from ending up in a landfill. Salvage yards provide 40% of all recycled steel in America and they generate $25 billion per year. These yards, often small businesses with just one or a handful of employees, provide work for 46,000 workers in the US. This is a major industry, one that's fueled by the number of vehicles in this country. There would be far more trash in the dumps and landfills all over the world if not for junkyards.

Finally, salvage yards (aka junkyards) give you the opportunity to make a little money off of your old car. Junk cars can actively harm the environment if they sit around for too long. Their fluids may leak or they might emit fumes in the air as they decompose.

What are the advantages of selling your car to a Salvage Yard?

The main advantage of selling your car to a salvage yard over a scrap yard is that the junkyard can work with your car. A scrap yard will buy large quantities of metal, either by the pound or by the ton. The owners and employees want sellers to come in with as much metal as possible so they don’t have to make multiple trips over multiple days. They pay a base price for the metal, and they don’t bother to look at the other potential value in a car. They may be looking for different types of metal over the course of the year, but tend to deal with copper and aluminum. They may not even have much of a use for a junk car unless it’s largely made of aluminum.

You should sell your car to a salvage yard and not a scrap yard not only because you’ll get a better price for it. You should sell your car to a salvage yard because then you can be certain that the parts of your car will be put to use. Salvage yards are experts at dismantling cars, recycling every possible piece of it, and reducing the amount of residue from the car that ends up in a landfill. A scrap yard may just pull the metal off and then throw the rest away.

What are the disadvantages of selling your car to a Salvage Yard?

You could potentially make more money if you tried to pull the car apart or sell the car to a private party. This is especially true if you want to sell a part that’s easily removable, like the tire. However, it’s worth noting that dismantling a car — or even just pulling out a single part — may be harder than it seems. In addition, you may not make very much money from the parts (or you may have to wait a long time to sell) if those parts aren’t in demand. Certain items will go very quickly, especially on national sites like eBay, but many will sit around for months or even years before any serious buyers even see them.

Salvage yards will take some money off the top for the equipment they need to buy, the permits they need to have, the employees they need to pay, and the land they need to use. You are better off selling your car to a salvage yard over a scrap yard because they have the tools and the expertise to work with junk cars and extract as much value from them. We don’t recommend trying to part out your own car unless you’re a hobbyist mechanic (or know one who will do the job for cheap).

What is a Car Scrap Yard?

A scrap yard is a business that buys metal in bulk. The types of metal that they take will depend on the type of scrap yard they are, but in general, they’ll take old appliances, vehicles, and wiring. The owners of a scrap yard are largely interested in the weight of the car if they accept it. The parts are less of a concern for them, as their speciality is to reuse or recycle the metal. These businesses will still drain fluids and recycle the car as responsibly as possible. The difference from a junkyard is that they don’t specialize in car parts.

It’s important to know who’s buying your car, as it will affect not only the price that you’re given but also what happens to your car after you drop it off. With a salvage yard, the parts are more likely to end up with people who need them. With a scrap yard, it's all likely to be treated as one big pile of metal.

What are the advantages of selling your car to a Car Scrap Yard?

The main advantage is that a car scrap yard may make the process quick and easy for you. You may not have to answer as many questions and they may be more willing to work with you (especially if you live in a state where it’s legal to sell a car for scrap metal without a title).

However, this isn’t always the case, as scrap yards may actually have more restrictions on the cars that they accept compared to a junk yard. If you’re planning on selling your car to a scrap yard, it’s important to do your research about where it’s going and what the policies are of the business that will ultimately end up with your vehicle. If you want to make your life easier, consider selling to a junkyard. These businesses were created to work with car and SUVs, so you know that you're getting the best offer for your junk car.

What are the disadvantages of selling your car to a Car Scrap Yard?

The disadvantage of selling your car to a scrap yard is that you may not get the best price for it and the parts may not be harvested from it. Scrap yards are known for working with bulk hauls, meaning they don’t always have the capacity or the skill to part out a car successfully for parts. Whether it’s a fridge or a Toyota, they may treat the two items as the same.

A salvage yard will know not only how to pull apart the car, they’ll also have the equipment needed to recycle it as efficiently as possible. These businesses are excellent for the environment because they limit the amount of new production in the country, and they often help mechanics offer lower prices to their customers for repairs.

Which one is better for selling a non-working car, Scrap Yard or Salvage Yard?

A salvage yard is a better place to sell a non-working car. Whether it’s running or not, salvage yards have the expertise and the skills to part out a car and then cut the leftovers down to size for recycling. Many people rely on salvage yards to either find affordable parts or to potentially save a totaled car from being put in a landfill.

A scrap yard will work with metal of all kinds, which will likely mean that they treat a car as one big metal object rather than a collection of parts. Certain parts may still be worth money, even if the car as a whole doesn’t work. A salvage yard may be able to successfully save anything from an engine to a radiator.

Which one is better for selling a working car, Scrap Yard or Salvage Yard?

A salvage yard, or junkyard, is a better place to sell a working car. People may sell a working car to a salvage yard if the frame was badly totaled in an accident or if they simply can't count on its reliability anymore. No matter the reason, a scrap yard won't have the tools or the skills needed to do much with a working car besides recycle it. A salvage yard may be able to resell the car either through an auction or to another professional in the industry. Or they may choose to part out a working car because they'll get more for it that way.

The bottom line is that you'll get more money for a working car if you sell to a salvage yard over a scrap yard. If you do have a working car though, you can consider trading it in for a better deal or selling it to a private party.

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