How Much Do You Get for Scrapping a Car? (Get the Most from Scrapyards!)

Unlike fine wine and cheese, cars don’t get better with age. On the contrary, their value drops as the year increases. Thus, you’ll never make a real profit from selling an old car. However, you can still mitigate your losses. A buck saved is a buck earned, right?

While selling your vehicle to a used car lot is a great way of achieving this, it’s not always an option. If your vehicle is too old, no one will want to buy it. The associated costs will just outweigh the buying price. In this case, visiting a scrapyard is your best option.

But did you know you can salvage additional parts before bidding your car the final farewell? In this article, we’re going to tell you how much do you get for scrapping a car and how to get the most from scrapyard.

Table of Contents

scrap car

What is a scrap car?

A scrap car is any vehicle that’s unfit to be driven. It’s generally at least 15 years old and doesn’t function properly anymore. Alternatively, it can be any car that’s been damaged irreparably.

Since such cars have no function anymore, their value is based on the materials it’s made of. Naturally, this will never be the price you originally paid for it. But before you condemn your vehicle as a worthless wreck, you should salvage whatever parts you can.

Your car has several metals in its construction, and they are shown in the table below.

MetalDescription
SteelMost common in any car, it is usually inexpensive
AluminumLighter than steel, more common in new models
CopperGreat conductor of electricity, used for electrical wiring
Platinum
Palladium
Rhodium
Rare, expensive metals used in catalytic converters

How To Tell If Your Car Is Scrap-worthy

Usually, selling your vehicle is much more profitable than selling scraps. Since scrapping accounts for nothing more than the materials, you won’t get much money for it. In some cases, this might still be the better option. No vehicle can withstand the test of time forever – eventually, it will become unfit for driving.

To tell if your car is scrap-worthy, consider the following 4 factors:

Fuel (In)Efficiency

Although most vehicles are extremely fuel-efficient these days, this quality worsens with age. Of course, used cars will never have their original efficiency. But if your vehicle devours fuel as if it were attending an all-you-can-eat buffet, it might be time to let it go.

After all, gas isn’t cheap, and those dollars can ramp up pretty quickly. It’s especially in the current state of the world. The factors that affect fuel efficiency are:

  • Engine type
  • Axle ratio
  • Aerodynamics
  • Weight

Tough Maintenance

Once certain mileage has been reached, your vehicle will start acting up at every chance you get. It means frequent visits to the mechanic. And neither the service nor new parts are cheap here in the US (or anywhere in the world, really.)

Check how much money your pour into endless repairs each month. Then, see how much this would be over a whole year. If it proves to be over a thousand dollars, you’re better off buying a new car.

Not only will this save you a lot of money in the long run, but it will also relieve some burden off your shoulder. After all, spending too much time at the mechanic’s might give your spouse the wrong idea. But jokes aside, we know it can be very stressful and time-consuming.

You’ll have to decide if you want to sell the whole vehicle or take it to the scrapyard. We’ll cover the pros and cons in the following sections.

The repair costs outweigh the profit.

This tip is related to old vehicles sitting in your garage. Ancient, even. Before you decide to repair it, consider how much you’d get for this car. Odds are the money won’t even cover the repair costs. In this case, you should give up on your vehicle. Used car lots simply won’t buy cars that wouldn’t sell.

Your vehicle is totaled.

This factor is only relevant if you don’t have car insurance. A totaled vehicle means that the costs of repairing outweigh its worth. If this is the case, it might be wiser to scrap it. Even if you get it repaired, you’ll lose money if you decide to sell it.

But it’s a different story if you’re insured. In this case, you’ll receive insurance money or a replacement.

How Are Scrap Cars Priced?

2007 Pontiac torrent

Scrap metal is cheap, so don’t expect more than a few hundred dollars. A 1.3-ton scrap car will yield you no more than $200. The real money hides in its components.

The following 3 factors affect car salvage prices:

Year, Make, and Model

When determining the price of next to anything, it always comes down to demand. Cars are just the same. Popular models will typically yield more profit since they are easier to sell. Demand is also tied to how new the model is.

Since designs keep improving, every model will become obsolete and worthless eventually. The newer it is, the more sellable components it has. Average scrap car prices for some of the most popular models are included in the table below.

VehicleAverage scrap car price
Hyundai Sonata$818
Chevrolet Cruze$776
Hyundai Elantra$771
Ford F-150$657
Toyota Corolla$600

Location

When you sell your car to a scrapyard, they won’t process the materials directly on-site. Instead, the buyers will have to transport the materials somewhere else. Sadly, they will factor in the transport costs when giving you the price. The farther they have to move it, the less money you earn.

Age

Cars never appreciate. While the value of scrap metals doesn’t vary much between old and new vehicles, the value of components does. Ones with outdated components will sell for less. It makes sense, given that no one will buy obsolete equipment.

How much do scrap yards pay for cars?

To find out how much scrap yards pay for cars, you must first understand what makes them valuable. Since your vehicle is unfit for the road, only the material it’s made of matters. These are steel, aluminum, and iron. These metals are priced at about $150 per ton, $0.50 per pound, and $200 per ton, respectively. However, exact prices vary depending on the specific scrapyard.

We recommend salvaging whatever components you can from your vehicle before scrapping it. The scrap metal in itself isn’t very profitable.

What Car Parts Are Worth Money?

scrap car being towed

GPS

As one of the electrical components, a function GPS can make you a few hundred dollars richer. Even though every modern phone has some kind of navigation app on it, many drivers still prefer a built-in GPS unit. It’s much easier to operate, allowing you to focus on the road.

Catalytic Converter

A catalytic converter is a relatively recent innovation. A vital car component since 1975, it’s easily the most valuable item on this list.

These components filter toxic exhaust fumes. They do so, thanks to the presence of precious metals such as rhodium, platinum, and palladium. It is these metals that make catalytic converters so lucrative.

In terms of price, you’re bound to get at least $100 for old models. However, a modern catalytic converter may sell for as much as $1,000!

Battery

While you can sell a battery, it’s not very profitable. They are rather short-lived car components and rarely last longer than five years. Depending on its size, you can get anywhere from $5 to $20 for a battery in good condition.

However, keep in mind that car batteries contain harmful chemicals. You might be better off recycling it to protect the environment. Since batteries don’t last long and sell for very little, they aren’t worth selling.

Engine

Remember our demand theory? Well, every car needs an engine. By this logic, selling one should be profitable, right?

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. While a low-mileage engine can easily net you $500 or more, it’s incredibly difficult to remove. Unless you a gearhead, you won’t be able to do it without professional help. And that costs money. This extra expense can make selling your engine much less appealing.

But you can still sell it to an individual buyer if they’re willing (and able) to remove it themselves.

Stereo

Stereo is another electrical component that can earn you some extra cash. Even though it may not be new, it should be easy to sell.

Exhaust system

An exhaust system can fetch good money, provided it’s in good condition. Together with the catalytic converter, it’s the most demanded component.

The price for an exhaust system ranges from $600 to $1,000.

1997 Ford crown victoria Sedan 4D

Airbags

Most of us don’t get to use our airbags (thankfully). And since if they are unused, they are practically brand-new. Thus, you can sell them easily. Replacing used airbags with new ones can be expensive. For this reason, many people opt to buy theirs from individual sellers.

Regarding pricing, it can reach up to $200 – quite a lot of money for next to no trouble!

Windshield Wipers

Though not the most profitable components, you can still sell your old windshield wipers.

With enough luck, you might be able to sell one piece for as much as $65.

Tires

As long as they’re in good condition, you should be able to sell off your tires. Their price depends on their size – bigger ones will fetch more.

Rims

The value of rims depends on the materials they’re made of. Aluminum or chrome can easily net you several hundred dollars.

Fenders

Whenever you leave your car in a parking lot for too long, you might return to an unpleasant surprise – bumps, and scratches.

Unfortunately, such accidents happen often. But luckily, you might be able to help out. And earn some money in the process. If someone is looking for fenders, you might be able to sell yours for as much as several hundred dollars.

Seats

If your seats managed to withstand the test of time despite the odds, you can sell them off.

In general, expect to get up to $100 for one piece.

Motor oil and filters

Although oil filters don’t sell for much, you can have them rebuilt or recycled. Despite the initial cost, you’ll make at least some money.

As for motor oil, it doesn’t go bad with age. However, it does accumulate a lot of dirt. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sell it – many garages will be willing to have it recycled for further use.

A/C

In hot climates and during summer, the last place you’d want to end up in is a car without an A/C. Many people share this sentiment and are willing to pay decent money for a functional unit.

The only problem is the removal. This process is quite difficult and requires some technical know-how to perform. However, the extra cash can go a long way and is worth the effort.

Doors and Mirrors

Both doors and mirrors are prone to damage. Thus, they are always high-demand items.

The price of both doors and mirrors depends on the model. The newer it is, the higher the prices. You could earn as much as several hundred dollars.

Transmission

Transmission is another lucrative component. As long as it’s functional, you can earn up to $1,400 from it. However, this is just the raw selling price. Removing it is difficult and might involve additional expenses.

How to tell if scrapping your car is the right choice.

Once your car bites the dust, scrapping it might sound like the right choice. While the quick and easy cash might be appealing, this isn’t the most profitable way of disposing of your vehicle.

inside 1997 Ford crown victoria Sedan 4D

As long as it’s drivable, it’s usually better to sell it whole. A scrapyard will essentially pay you only for the scrap metal. It is rarely more than $500.

However, sometimes scrapping is the inevitable choice. If your vehicle causes more trouble than it’s worth, no one will want to buy it. You’re getting rid of it for a reason, after all.

You should always scrap your car when:

  • Repair costs exceed the price of the car itself
  • It is not worth enough to sell
  • Your car has been written off
  • You want to dispose of it quickly

One way to tell is to examine your maintenance fee. If the repairs cost more than the vehicle’s worth, it’s time to scrap it. High mile-age cars also drain fuel quickly and lead to even greater expenses. And lastly, you should always scrap it if it’s totaled.

But before you deliver the final blow, make sure you sell off the components individually.

Preparing the Car for Scrapping

Before you deliver your vehicle to a junkyard, you must prepare it for scrapping.

  • Remove possessions
  • Remove sellable parts
  • Cancel your insurance

Clean the car of your possessions

As the owner, you must clear your vehicle of all personal belongings. While it might sound banal, it never hurts to be careful. You wouldn’t want your wallet and other precious items to be destroyed together with the vehicle.

But other than being your responsibility, cleaning your vehicle will make the next step much easier.

Remove the parts you wish to sell

You should remove as many sellable components as possible to maximize your profit. Remember, scrapyards only pay for the ‘husk.’ Keeping items such as the catalytic converter or stereo inside is a waste of money.

We’ve listed the valuable components in one of the sections above. Decide which ones you think are worth the trouble and sell them separately.

Salvage the gas

Junkyards aren’t interested in gas. If you’re up for it, you can salvage the gas and store it for future use. Most junkyards will drain it themselves if you don’t, so you have nothing to lose.

Remove the license plate.

In the wrong hands, your license plate could get you into trouble. Even though not all states require you to return it, you should always remove it. Better safe than sorry.

Cancel your insurance

Once you hand over the ownership of your vehicle, your insurance becomes useless. To avoid pointless expenses, cancel it as soon as you can.

How to scrap a car for the most money

To scrap a car for the most money, you must:

  • remove as many components as possible
  • sell them off individually.

Raw car salvage prices are rather low and range from $100 to $500. It is because you’re getting paid just for scrap metal.

Doors, mirrors, catalytic converters, stereos, and fenders are some examples of sellable components.

You should also decide how you want to scrap your vehicles. Compare different junkyards and online services to find the best deal. Check for any additional service fees. Some junkyards don’t provide free towing.

How to junk a car without a title

Although it’s easier to junk a car with a title, you can still do so without it. The title just shows that you are your vehicle’s real owner. You can prove your ownership by having your driver’s license and car’s official registration on you. Both these documents should allow you to sell your vehicle.

To play it safe, you can also obtain a duplicate title. Just know that it involves lots of tedious paperwork. It’s probably easier to just use the other two documents.

What’s The Scrap Value Of A Catalytic Converter?

The scrap value of a catalytic converter depends on your model and the material it’s made of. However, it’s easily the most valuable component. It can easily add over $1,000 to your wallet.

The metals it consists of are rare, hence the high value. These metals help siphon toxic fumes from the exhaust pipes.

Where Can I Scrap My Car?

The options where you can scrap your car are many. The most accessible ones would be junkyards and mechanic shops near your area.

Alternatively, you can scrap your car online. Many sites will relieve you of your old vehicle for a reasonable price. These include:

FAQ

How much is the scrap metal in a car worth?

Once you strip your vehicle of all components, you’ll be left with a giant slab of metal. It’s this metal that junkyards are interested in. As for how much scrap metal is worth, it depends on where you sell it. But in general, it’s anywhere between $100 – $500. These car salvage prices depend mainly on weight.

How much do junkyards pay for cars that run?

Although junkyards pay more for cars than run, it’s not much more. Running cars generally have additional components that might have some scrap value. Thus, they can sell for more. However, the difference isn’t that big.

While you might get up to $1,000 for a running vehicle, this is only because of its components. If you try to sell them off individually, you can earn much more than that.

Conclusion

All told, how much you get for scrapping a car depends on how thorough you are. Scrap metal isn’t worth much. However, the components in your vehicle can be a treasure trove.

Selling these off individually can make you several hundred dollars per item. To get the most from scrapyards, make sure you at least sell off your catalytic converter and electronics. These are the most valuable parts.