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All good things come to an end, and that goes for your car, too. No matter how much you care for it, there will come a time when it runs the end of its life. Even if you use fancy life-preserving oil and brake fluid and carefully drive it, eventually, it will no longer go on.

A lot of the time, people do this ahead of schedule and trade it for a newer model or sell the car privately for a bit of cash towards a new car. However, that’s not always possible. 

Sometimes, the car is in such disrepair that it’s basically garbage by most people’s standards. Luckily, there’s a way to deal with that and still get some cash out of your junker: Scrapping. 

However, it can be a little difficult to tell when it’s best to scrap a car or to choose if a private sale is a better option. So, we’re going to lay out the general criteria your car should meet before you opt to scrap it, and how you can scrap it for some quick cash if your old ride fits the bill. 

When to Scrap Your Car for Cash

Junk Car for Scraping

It’s not always best to scrap your car. Even a very old vehicle can fetch a nice price on the private market if it’s in relatively good condition and you find the right buyer. So, don’t think that we’re trying to get your fully functioning 2015 Ford Fiesta towed off to the scrap yard. 

Here are some of the issues that make the scrapyard much more appealing, and if your car has any of these, you should really consider scrapping it. If still not sure, maybe try a private sale or trade-in first. 

Major Engine or Transmission Problems: 

The engine and the transmission in a vehicle are two of the parts that cost the most to fix, and they are essential to operate the vehicle.

In many cases, if you blow an engine or ruin your transmission, the repair costs might be much higher than just buying a different car. This is especially true if you tend to hop from a used car to another used car where the overall cost of the purchase is as low as $1000 for the vehicle. 

In this case, scrapping the car is probably your best bet. 

However, if you own a brand-new car that’s only a year old it may be worth tens of thousands of dollars. In this case it may be worth the price of repairs rather than financing a whole new car. 

Extensive Damage: 

Wrecks are horrific experiences, and even relatively minor wrecks that don’t result in serious injuries can result in some mental damage that takes time to repair. Adding the extensive process of fully repairing a car with hefty body damage, busted internal parts, and other issues is not ideal. 

If the damage from the wreck is extensive enough to cost thousands in repairs or exceed the value of the car (totaled by insurance standards), it’s best to call your local scrapyard and have them tow it away rather than toss all that stress on top of the experience itself. 

Aged and Obsolete: 

Finally, the older a car gets, the more problems it’ll have. Those original parts only last so long. On top of that, finding replacement parts tends to become extremely difficult the older your car gets.

As a car phases out of manufacturing, more cars are taken out of circulation by wrecks or age, and the supply of original parts begins to fade, it might cost more to get a relatively simple part than it would to buy a used car. Ask any vintage car collector how easy it is to find something as basic as a headlight for a 1951 vehicle. 

When it becomes difficult, and expensive, to find replacement parts or get your car worked on, and it starts developing major issues, it is probably time to scrap it. 

The exception to this is any vintage car that collectors are after. You might get quite a bit of cash for an old, vintage vehicle even if it doesn’t run. This is because a collector can purchase your dud of a car and pull parts from it to rebuild their own identical car. 

How to Scrap Your Car for Cash

How to Scrap Your Car for Cash

Scrapping your car for cash is a very easy process and can happen very quickly. But before you pick up the phone, you should first understand the full process as outlined below.

Find a Buyer

Auto wreckers are the buyers who will pay cash for cars in any condition. Take some time to research local scrappers in your area and check out online reviews. This will allow you to find the best local auto wrecker that pays the most. 

Once you’ve found a service, you’re comfortable with, it’s time to make the call. Make sure you have a basic understanding of what your car is and any problems it may have before calling (It’ll make the rest of this much easier). 

Phone Consultation: 

When a representative answers the phone, just let them know you’re looking to scrap your car. They’ll ask some basic information such as whether you’re the owner, what the make and model is, and what condition the car is in. 

Don’t worry if your car isn’t in the best shape; the scrapyard doesn’t care about that, as they’re just going to recycle it anyway. 

Agree on Price: 

The wrecker will calculate the recycling value of your car and how much they’re likely to get out of its parts, and they’ll give you the largest cut of that value while making sure they make a small profit.

Of course, if you aren’t happy with their price, you can look elsewhere or try to negotiate. Everything is upfront and transparent. If you like the price they’re offering, accept it and move on to the next step. 

Scheduling Pickup: 

Now, you get to schedule your pickup time. Most scrappers offer free towing for the vehicles they purchase. So, you can have it picked up from your home, in the lot it broke down in, or even on the side of the highway. You just need to pick a time and let them know where you and the car will be at that time. 

At the scheduled time, an in-house tow service will show up to complete the process. 

Inspection: 

Once the tow truck is there, the driver will inspect your vehicle to make sure your description was accurate. Again, they’re just going to recycle it. So, if you described it accurately there should be no issues and you’re good to go.

If you lied about the make, model, or condition to a ridiculous degree, they may opt to walk away from the deal or lower the price.

Payment and Transfer of Ownership:

Finally, you’re about to get paid. All you must do is show the tow truck driver the paperwork proving you own the vehicle and have the right to scrap it. It doesn’t have to have plates or anything else; just proof of ownership and your ID to prove you are who you say you are. 

Then, you’ll give ownership to the scrapyard, the tow truck driver will pay you in cash as agreed over the phone and tow your car away without any further hassle. 

This may sound like a lot of steps, but it’s all extremely simple and each step flows right into the next. Typically, you can complete the entire selling process within an hour or two of making the call; depending on how busy the scrapyard is. 

Preventing the Need to Scrap

Preventing the Need to Scrap

Of course, you’ll usually get more out of your car if you sell it before it reaches the point where scrapping is your only option. 

To help with that, always use the best oil, fuel, and other fluids when possible, get your car routinely inspected by a qualified mechanic, and try to repair little problems before they turn into much larger issues. 

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

David Muench (Carnes Mechanical)

Hey, I’m David. I’ve worked in a cars store for 6 years. I write reviews and guides, helping people to choose the most suitable technicals and best product for them. I’m happy to finally share my knowledge of the industry here, on CarnesMechanical.

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