The Most Valuable Parts on Your Car to Scrap: What to Part Out for More Money

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    If you have a car that’s a good candidate for a junkyard nearby, you may be thinking about the best way to get the greatest possible value out of it. Is it better to just call Junk Car Medics and have the whole darn thing hauled away for the payout, or is there something you can do to squeeze extra cash out of whatever is left of your old car?

    We are very glad that you asked! There is indeed a way to generate more value from junk cars. It involves removing the most valuable parts on your car to scrap and selling these auto parts separately for scrap metal prices. Scrapping a car takes some time, some effort, and usually some aggravation, but you can get more total dollars out of a car that’s otherwise ready for the scrap yard.

    Follow along on our tour of your junk car’s most valuable components. We will go area by area, pointing out the items of greatest value. It will help you greatly to have a decent level of mechanical aptitude, along with some basic tools that are suitable for the purpose. Let’s go!

    Prices of scrap metal affect the payout for your junk car, but they tend to vary year on year.

    Valuable items under the hood of your junk car

    There are several items under the hood of your junker than can be turned into a decent amount of cash. Some may be reusable, while others are recyclable.

    Engine and transmission

    If your engine and your transmission are in running condition, they could continue to live on in another car. Some car owners may prefer to purchase a cheap used engine or transmission to replace the one that just failed in their car. There are also companies that rebuild or remanufacture engines and transmissions. After being thoroughly inspected and having their worn parts replaced with new ones, these engines and transmissions can then be sold with warranties, as a less expensive alternative to a new engine. Potential buyers for your engine and transmission include private buyers, auto recyclers, repair shops, and remanufacturing companies.

    If your engine or transmission is not in running condition, you may be able to get a decent price for their aluminum parts. Many engines have aluminum blocks and heads, and transmissions are often housed in aluminum cases. Aluminum is worth much more than steel, so shop these items around to various scrap buyers in your area.

    JCM Parts Tip: Engines and transmissions are very heavy, and they must be removed from your car before they can be sold separately. Have the right tools for this and be careful not to injure yourself. If you don’t have the know-how to do this, you may need the services of a mechanic, which will cost you some money. The fluids must be drained and disposed of properly during this process. Finally, you may have to transport these items to the buyer, so you will need a vehicle that can haul these items to their final destination – unless the buyer will come to you and pick them up.

    Air conditioning system

    A functioning air conditioning system can make you some additional bucks if you sell the more valuable parts separately. The compressor is a high-value component that can be reused or remanufactured, so that someone else’s cooling system can keep working. Other parts like the condenser may also be of value. Potential buyers include auto recyclers, repair shops, and remanufacturing companies.

    JCM Parts Tip: If you aren’t familiar with the removal of the compressor or other components, invest a few dollars to having a mechanic take them off the car without damaging anything. Check the value of these components first, so you don’t spend more on the mechanic than the parts are worth!

    Alternator and starter

    These two items spend their lives attached to your engine. Their special value lies in the large amount of copper wiring inside their steel cases. While they have a lot of inherent material value, they can also be resold either as is or after being remanufactured. Auto recyclers and scrapyards are always willing to buy these parts.


    The radiator in your car usually contains a significant amount of aluminum. This makes it worth selling separately. Your radiator is fairly easy to remove from the vehicle, as it is normally placed right up front, behind the grille. You can sell your car’s radiator at a scrapyard or a car parts recycling facility.

    JCM Parts Tip: When removing your radiator, be sure to drain out the coolant first and dispose of it properly.

    Valuable items underneath your junk car

    Putting your car up on a lift, or otherwise raising it off the ground safely, will give you a good view of some value-packed parts, either attached to the chassis or suspended underneath, that can be turned into ready cash.

    Catalytic converter

    You probably never thought that there were any precious metals in your car, but there are! The catalytic converter has been a part of most cars’ emissions control systems since the 1970s and is found on nearly every vehicle on the road today. It uses very expensive metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium to convert the toxic elements of your exhaust gases into substances that are not harmful. Buyers for used catalytic convertors include muffler shops, auto dealers, auto repair shops, auto recyclers, and auto salvage yards.

    JCM Parts Tip: If you can’t unbolt your catalytic converter from the rest of the exhaust system, then you will need to cut it off, allowing a short length of exhaust pipe on each end of the converter. And please don’t open up your catalytic converter in search of precious metals – you won’t find any! Theses metals have become part of a ceramic material which the exhaust gases flow through inside the converter housing. Specialized recycling equipment must be used to separate the precious metals from the ceramic, so that these valuable elements can be reclaimed. Don’t try this at home!

    Wheels and tires

    The wheels and tires on your junk car can definitely be sold separately to make you a few extra bucks. These items are also very easy to remove from your car. Depending what you have, its condition, and how much demand there is for it, there are a few different scenarios that could possibly work for you. This assumes that we are talking about aluminum alloy wheels and not base-level steel wheels (which have a much lower value both to scrapyards and potential second owners):

    1.     Sell the wheels and tires as a set to someone who owns the same make and model

    This is the easiest solution if both items are in good condition, as you will be able to sell everything in one shot, without having to remove the tires from the wheels. An ad on Craigslist should do the trick. You can also look for an online owner’s forum for your car – post the set as a pickup-only item for buyers in your specific area.

    2.     Sell the wheels and tires separately

    Many tire retailers will purchase your used tires, as long as they are in saleable condition. That usually means that the tires are evenly worn, with at least half the tread remaining, and no damage. Other options are a site like Sell My Tires or Craigslist. Your wheels can then be sold on Craigslist, eBay, or an owner’s forum if they are in decent condition. If they are not, sell them to a scrapyard for their aluminum content, especially in the rims.

    3.     Take the set directly to the scrapyard

    If your set of wheels and tires consists of bald tires on severely banged-up alloy or steel wheels, do not pass Go – head directly to your local scrap yard and accept whatever scrap value they will give you. They should be willing to remove and recycle the tires before they send the aluminum for reprocessing into new metal, saving you the added cost.

    JCM Parts Tip: Be very careful when raising your car to remove the wheels and tires. Be sure that the car’s full weight is supported on something solid (and not just a jack) so that it remains stable after the wheels are off.

    Valuable items on the inside of your scrap car

    Riding inside your car with you are some items that have significant value, and that can put some cash into your pocket.

    GPS navigation system

    These sophisticated built-in navigation systems were a very expensive option when your car was new. Even though the recent advent of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto has made it easy to use your smartphone for in-car navigation, these built-in GPS systems still retain some value on the secondary market. Existing owners of the same system who need replacement components like the touchscreen are the ultimate market for these systems. Post your items on an owner’s forum, on Craigslist, or contact auto recyclers in your area.

    Audio system

    Most drivers use their audio systems regularly when they are in their cars, and these systems eventually conk out. If your car audio system is in good, functional condition, you can get some money for it. An aftermarket system that can be installed into a variety of vehicles will be even easier to sell. The best potential customers are auto recyclers (for the original equipment system), or try owner’s forums, eBay, or Craigslist.


    Every time an airbag goes off during an accident, it will need to replaced – except when the car is totaled, of course! Now that every car sold comes with multiple airbags, this has created a large secondary market for unused airbags, especially in view of the high cost of buying them brand new. The most accessible airbags in the vehicle are the driver’s airbag (in the steering wheel hub), the front passenger’s airbag (inside the dashboard on the passenger side), and the driver’s knee airbag, if equipped (inside the lower dash on the driver’s side). Auto recyclers and body shops are the prime buyers.

    JCM Parts Tip: If you do not have experience in removing airbags from a vehicle, leave it to a professional! These are explosive devices that use an electrical charge to fire, so you do not want any live power in the vehicle, or any sparks created when removing them. One more thing: check here to make sure that your vehicle is not on a list for any airbag recalls. You don’t want any dangerous or faulty airbags being resold to unsuspecting drivers!


    The seats in a car receive a lot of abuse over the years. The upholstery wears, the padding collapses, and the frames deteriorate. Many owners of older vehicles are looking for replacement seats for their rides. You can sell your seats to an auto recycler, or perhaps put them on Craigslist or eBay.

    Other interior parts

    Just as with the seats, there is also a need for other interior parts like the door panels, the dashboard, and the center console. If you have a collector car, these can be very valuable. For cars that have not reached collector status, an auto recycler is your best bet. For something rare and desirable, contact a car club that is focused on your specific vehicle to find a willing buyer.

    Interior electric motors and mechanisms

    A large proportion of the cars on the road today have these power accessories in their interiors:

    • Power windows
    • Power locks
    • Power seats

    At a certain point in most of these cars’ lives, the motors powering those features will fail and need replacement. The cost-effective solution is a used motor from a compatible vehicle, which will cost a fraction of what a brand-new motor sells for. There is a steady demand for these motors. Auto recyclers will buy them from you to resell, or you can do it directly on eBay.

    Valuable items on the outside of your scrap car

    The outside of your car is made up of many valuable parts that can be turned into cash in your pocket. Let’s go through them, one by one:


    The bumpers of today’s cars are very sophisticated body parts. No longer the simple metal bars of yesteryear, modern bumpers fit seamlessly onto a car’s body, incorporating its front- and rear-end styling. Bumpers contain air inlets, brake vents, fog lights, aerodynamic aids, and various trim pieces. Bumpers are often the first thing that is damaged in an accident, and if seriously smashed up, will need a replacement. New bumpers are not cheap, so used replacements are sought after by cost-conscious consumers and body shops. If yours are in decent shape, you can sell them on eBay, or to a vehicle recycler.


    Located at the four corners of a vehicle, fenders are exposed key body parts that are often damaged or destroyed in minor and major collisions. Used fenders are valuable and practical as replacement parts, since they will normally be repainted to match the rest of the affected vehicle during the repair process. Potential buyers for your car’s fenders include recycling yards, body shops, and buyers on eBay and Craigslist.

    JCM Parts Tip: Front fenders are usually bolted on and can be removed easily, but rear fenders tend to be welded onto the rest of the body structure, so will take more effort.


    In a side-impact collision, a car’s doors can easily be damaged and need replacement. Car doors are another valuable body part that can often be a very complex subassembly. A whole door contains:

    • The outer door body panel
    • The interior door panel
    • The window glass
    • The window mechanism (manual or powered)
    • The outside mirror and its adjustment mechanism (manual or powered)
    • The door locking mechanism (manual or powered)
    • Defroster vents (on some vehicles)
    • Seat adjustment controls (on some vehicles)
    • Puddle lights (on some vehicles)

    As you can see, there is a lot of value in a complete door assembly! Auto recyclers will buy these for their parts inventories, or you can try selling them yourself on Craigslist or eBay.

    Trunk lid, rear hatch, and tailgate

    These body parts, all found at the rear of the vehicle, are common casualties of rear-end collisions (along with the rear bumper). There are plenty of car owners and body shops in search of used versions for those types of repairs. Again, your best bets are recyclers, body shops, eBay, and Craigslist.


    In a front-end collision of any severity, a car’s hood is likely to be affected. Hoods are designed to absorb impacts by crumpling, so much hood damage is not repairable. If your hood is presentable, it can have a second life as a replacement hood on someone else’s car. Best of all, you get paid for it! Consider selling to the usual suspects: body shops, recycling yards, Craigslist or eBay.

    Windshield and other glass

    Windshields and all other car windows get broken all the time. Collisions, extreme temperatures, flying stones, hail, storm debris, high winds, baseballs or golf balls, and even break-ins can destroy the glass in a car. This has created a huge auto glass replacement market. For those who don’t have adequate insurance coverage, used auto glass is the money-saving way to go. To find a buyer for yours, try auto recyclers or auto glass shops, or place an ad on Craigslist. If you have a collector car, the value will be much higher.

    JCM Parts Tip: Stay local when selling your auto glass, as shipping large pieces of glass around the country is not worth the effort and the cost.

    Headlights and taillights

    Today’s headlight and taillight assemblies can be very complex items. These items are very expensive when purchased new as parts, so used versions will retain some decent value. If your car has expensive HID, Xenon, or LED headlights, your headlight assemblies will be worth even more. Even the taillights in many vehicles contain expensive LEDs. When these exposed items on the front and rear of a vehicle get hit and damaged, replacement is the only option. Your best buyer prospects are automotive recycling yards. Another good option is eBay, where a national and international audience can see and buy these easily shippable items.

    Important tips on parting out the valuable parts on your junk car to scrap

    If the idea of removing and selling the most valuable parts of your car is an appealing one, here are some guidelines for doing it safely and efficiently:

    • Be sure you have the expertise required to dismantle a vehicle
    • Get the correct tools and equipment for safely removing and handling large, heavy parts like engines, transmissions, and body panels
    • Don’t damage any valuable parts while removing them
    • Use a lift, ramps, or jack stands to raise the vehicle securely if you will be working under it
    • Have a lockable space to store your parts until you sell them
    • Take good quality pictures of the parts to post online
    • Allow plenty of time – the entire process will take much longer than you think!

    Remember, time is money too!

    Parting out your junk car will take up a lot of your valuable time. Between disassembly of the vehicle, transporting and storing the parts, cleaning them up and photographing them, pricing them and posting them online, calling around locally for prices, managing your online sales, delivering or packing and shipping, and then dealing with the hulk that remains, the parting out process can be a full-time job!

    Take a look at the total amount you are likely to end up with, divide it by the number of hours it is likely to take, and decide if it’s worth it. If you believe that it is, then go for it! But if you come to the conclusion that you don’t want to invest the time and effort required to sell your clunker piece by piece, here’s a quick and easy solution:

    Junk Car Medics will buy your junk car for cash today!

    If you have run the numbers, and you have come to the conclusion that it is not worth parting out your car, junk car buyers can help! Get an instant offer for your car today from Junk Car Medics®, the nation's premier online car selling service trusted by thousands each month.

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