What’s the Scrap Value Of My Car?

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Learn how to calculate your car's scrap value by reading this post.The scrap value of your car is subject to a variety of factors. Some of these are beyond the control of anyone who wants to get the most money when selling junk cars for cash. But there are some things that you can do to squeeze some extra dollars out that car, truck, or SUV that’s ready to depart the world of running vehicles.

Let’s focus now on the value that auto junkyards get for cars, how they can resell some of your car’s parts, and how they can crush the rest to get the value of its basic metals, and finally, some tips on getting more scrap value for your junk car.

The value that auto junkyards get for junk cars

When your car is in running condition, the used car market assigns it a value. This value is based on your car’s age, its mileage, its appearance, and its mechanical condition. Newer, lower-mileage cars that look good and run well are worth the most. Older, higher-mileage cars that look beat-up and run poorly are worth the least. The rest fall somewhere in between.

But when your car won’t run or when you have a severely damaged car, most used car buyers are no longer interested in buying it. To all those people looking for reliable (or at least cheap) transportation, your car is now worth nothing. It is time to find a new market where you can get some value out of your vehicle.

Welcome to the junk car market, where every vehicle is worth something! This market doesn’t care about how well you took care of your old car, or how many miles are on it. To an auto salvage yard, the formula for what your car is worth comes down to the value of its parts, the value of its scrap metal, and the cost of the scrapping process.

The value of your car’s parts

You may not think of your car as a rolling parts department, but that’s exactly what it can become at the end of its life. There is a thriving secondary parts market, sourced from the many vehicles coming off the road on a daily basis. There are plenty of useful parts that can be removed from a junk car and resold, such as:

  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Suspension parts
  • Axles
  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Catalytic converters
  • Battery
  • Radiator
  • Air conditioning components
  • Hoses
  • Fenders
  • Hood
  • Trunk
  • Doors
  • Rear hatch
  • Bumpers
  • Grille
  • Headlights
  • Taillights
  • Seats
  • Dashboard
  • Door panels
  • Console
  • Stereo
  • GPS system
  • Windshield
  • Windows

The automotive recycling yards that sell these parts will catalog and store them, then offer them for sale on the internet to buyers across the nation. Parts can be shipped to just about anywhere they are needed, with high levels of efficiency.

Some of these automotive recycling facilities will set themselves up as a “pick and pull,” in which vehicles are parked in rows, and local customers can enter the grounds with their tools, browse through the vehicles on display, and remove the pieces they need. This provides a self-service approach which saves consumers money, since they are performing their own labor to dismantle and remove the parts they need!

Who buys these parts? Repair shops, body shops, budget-conscious owners of older vehicles, and anyone else trying to save some money by buying used parts instead of new ones.

Are the reusable parts on your car of value?

It’s a good question! Every vehicle’s parts are not necessarily of high value in the used parts market. The cars with the highest value parts have these qualities:

  • They are popular models made in large quantities
  • They were produced fairly recently, so many of them are still on the road
  • The parts are in sellable condition

If your car qualifies on all three counts, there should be a robust demand for parts from it. Both body parts and mechanical parts will be sought out for various types of repairs being made to these vehicles. Having desirable parts will yield the highest junk car prices.

On the other hand, your car’s parts may not be worth much if there are not many of that model still registered and running around on the roads. There’s just too little demand.

The only exception to this is if you have a rare and desirable vehicle. If so, you may be able to sell it directly to a collector as a parts car.

The value of your car’s metals

Once that the worth of your car’s reusable parts has been tallied up, all that remains is the value of the metal content in its body structure, chassis, and inoperative mechanical parts. This is known as your vehicle’s scrap car value.

After the scrap car's reusable parts have been removed, the shell that is left will be flattened or crushed to take up less space. It is then fed into a giant shredding machine, which breaks it down into small chunks of metal. Additional processing separates these chunks of mixed metal into ferrous metals (iron and steel) and non-ferrous metals (aluminum and copper). All these metals will be recycled into new raw materials, which will then be used in the manufacture of new cars and other products.

There are several factors that determine the scrap value:

1. The size/weight of your car

Larger vehicles tend to weigh more, which means that they contain more metal. At a given point in time, this will usually make more of a difference in your car’s scrap value than anything else. Here are some weights of various vehicle categories:

Cars                            Example                     Avg. Class Weight

Subcompact car          Hyundai Accent          2,505 lbs.

Compact car                Toyota Corolla            2,919 lbs.

Midsize car                 Honda Accord             3,361 lbs.

Large car                     Dodge Charger           3,883 lbs.

Minivan                      Chrysler Pacifica           4,437 lbs.

SUVs

Subcompact SUV       Buick Encore                3,145 lbs.

Compact SUV             Mazda CX-5                3,590 lbs.

Midsize SUV               Ford Explorer              4,404 lbs.

Large SUV                  Chevrolet Tahoe          5,603 lbs.

Pickup Trucks

Midsize Pickup           GMC Canyon              3,977 lbs.

Large Pickup               RAM 1500                  4,951 lbs.

2. The amounts of each metal in your vehicle

Most cars are made predominantly of steel. There will also be iron and aluminum parts, as well as copper in the vehicle’s wiring. Some vehicles, like the Ford F-150 pickup, the Audi A8 sedan, the Acura NSX sports car, and the Tesla Model S sedan, use aluminum for their structures and/or body panels. These cars will be worth much more than the average steel vehicle, thanks to their high aluminum content and aluminum’s higher value, relative to steel.

3. The market prices of each metal in your vehicle

The price of scrap metal fluctuates regularly, and are influenced by supply and demand, the economic conditions in major trading nations, and the complicated international trade policies that have affected the production, sales, and purchases of these commodities. If the market values of the various metals in your car are low, then you will be offered less for it, compared to when metal prices are higher. You can check metals prices online to get a general idea of the current values of each.

Tips for maximizing the value of your junk car

Here are some ways to get more value out of your junk car. Use the ones that make sense for you, based on your timeframe, your desire for the best possible deal, and your mechanical abilities:

Track scrap prices and sell when the market goes up

Watch and track scrap metal prices on a daily or weekly basis, and plan to sell your junk car when there’s an uptrend that levels out. This should get you more value for your junk car – if you can wait until it happens.

Clean up your car, and shoot some flattering photos of it, inside and out

These will come in handy for the next item below.

Shop your car to as many places as possible

Make a list of all the recyclers and salvage and scrap yards that buy cars within a sensible radius around your location. Call or email each one to determine their interest in your car. Email the photos of your car to any interested buyers. Make a list of the prices you are offered by the various buyers.

Call back and negotiate your price up

Many scrap yards will start off by giving you a lowball scrap car price. Tell each one that you want more value for your junk car, and can they do any better? You can also try getting them to beat the best offer on your list. Keep calling (or emailing) until the prices stop increasing, then take the best offer. Be sure that you get free towing from your car’s location as part of the deal.

Sell some parts of your car yourself

If you are mechanically inclined, you could sell some of the easily removable and more valuable parts on your car, and then sell the rest to a junk car buyer. This could get you a bigger total payday for your junk car. These parts include: To get more money out of your scrap car, sell some of the car parts yourself.

  • Wheels and tires
  • Catalytic converter
  • Alternator
  • Starter
  • Battery
  • Radiator
  • Seats
  • Headlight and taillight assemblies

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