Junk Car Worth: How The Value of a Junk Car is Determined

How to Determine What Your Junk Car is Worth

Although it may not be junk to you, a vehicle that has broken down or been seriously damaged in an accident is not doing you any more good.

Before it turns to a big pile of rust, you need to get it off your hands.

You know you need to sell it, but trying to figure out how to get the money you want for your old reliable car is stressful and confusing.  While scrap car value lies in the metal how can you determine the true value of how much your junk car is worth?

Trying to Get the Best Value for Your Junk Car

By the time you read this blog, you have likely gone through several options for salvaging and selling your car.

If it doesn’t run or it isn’t safe to drive, then the truth is that it won’t be desirable to anyone other than a junk car buyer. Over 10,000 vehicles are scrapped every year in the U.S. Yet, the idea of selling your reliable auto to a scrap yard or other similar businesses can seem intimidating and unfamiliar, if not downright risky.

Luckily, with a little research, you can confidently sell your vehicle to a junk car buyer and be assured that you are getting a fair price. Before you sell, get informed about the factors that cash for cars businesses will use to determine the value of your vehicle. That way, you’ll have an idea of what your car is worth.

The 5 Factors That Could Impact the Value of Your Junk Car

The value of any junk car lies in its reusability. Junk car buyers will be looking for vehicles that can be parted out, stripped down, and sold for the best possible value. They will also be interested in the recycling potential of the metal in your vehicle, as this is often where they make most of their money.

But how much cash you are offered for your vehicle can be affected by several factors that you should know about ahead of time. And here they are:

1. The Condition of Your Vehicle

The current condition of your vehicle is the first thing you need to consider when selling it, as this will determine what can be done with your vehicle and how much money you get for it.

If the car has been sitting around for years and only needs a little bit of maintenance to get back on the road, it could potentially be sold to a used car dealer or a new owner and not scrapped.

Of course, if it requires too much work and costly repairs, it won’t be worth selling.  Instead, a junk car buyer can take it off your hands and sell the parts and materials.

A junk car buyer will want to know the state of your vehicle before giving you an offer. Cars in relatively good shape tend to be valued higher because more parts can be salvaged and sold. If it looks pristine but doesn’t run, parts of the body and mechanics can be resold to repair shops, body shops, and people looking to fix their own vehicles for a reasonable price.

The only thing of value in an irreparably damaged vehicle is the scrap metal that can be recycled to make new cars and building materials. About 80% of a car can be recycled, so even though it may not be worth as much as you had hoped, it will still have some value.

2. Vehicle Year, Make, and Model

The age and type of vehicle you own will dictate whether your car can be resold or parted out.

Generally, older vehicles are going to be in worse shape, and therefore less valuable. The parts from older cars are also usually not in high demand, and therefore could be harder to resell. Thus, an older vehicle will likely not net you as much cash.

The make and model are also very important to consider because certain types of cars are more desirable than others. A popular vehicle that is sold to many people every year will always be in demand for parts. For example, over 80,000 Toyota Camrys were sold in 2019. Parts from this car will be easy to sell because there are lots of potential buyers.

Less prevalent makes of vehicle will frequently garner lower offers from junk car buyers, unless they are rare vehicles, in which case replacement parts are often expensive and hard to come by. A salvage yard would be happy to get their hands on them.

3. How Much Mileage Your Vehicle Has

The more mileage you have on your car, the less money you will get. Just as high mileage devalues a used vehicle, it also devalues a junk vehicle.

Junk car buyers will pay better for a new or lightly used car because the parts are in a sellable shape and the vehicle may not need to be completely scrapped.

4. Current Scrap Prices and the Weight of Your Vehicle

Perhaps the most important thing to research before selling your car for cash is the current scrap rate.  The majority of scrap cars are valued only based on their weight as there is no value in the car parts so the year make and model nor the condition matter.

As a result, most junk car buyers will give an estimate based on how much they know they can make off of scrapping your car for it's value in metal only.

The easiest way to calculate the worth of your junk car in terms of scrap prices is to multiply the price per ton for scrap metal by the weight of your car. (Make sure to research the current scrap prices as these change frequently).

Not sure how much your vehicle weighs? There are a few simple ways you can find out:

  • Check the owner’s manual for vehicle specifications
  • Look for a sticker with vehicle details on the inside of the driver’s door
  • Contact the manufacturer and ask them to provide the information
  • Find a car scale and weight the vehicle yourself

Once you do your research and can calculate how your vehicle will be priced, you should have an approximate idea of the lowest offers you will get. Just remember that they might be a bit lower than expected because the companies need to leave a profit margin.

5. Your Location

It may seem surprising, but your location also plays a part in determining the worth of your junk car.

Firstly, some cars may be more in demand in certain areas.

Secondly, scrap prices sometimes vary by geographic region.

Lastly, and most importantly, the number of salvage yards and junk car buyers in your proximity can affect the competitiveness of the rates you are offered. If you live in an area with few cash for cars businesses, then the offers will likely be lower because there are few competitors. They may also pay you less because of the increased costs of picking up and transporting vehicles over greater distances.

Some states may also have higher processing fees due to the security requirements put in place for scrapping cars.

Know the Worth of Your Junk Car Before You Try to Sell

If you are feeling uncertain about selling your junk car and want to know that you are getting the best value, do some thorough research ahead of time to get an idea of what you should be paid.

Familiarize yourself with the methods that junk car buyers use to evaluate the worth of the vehicle. Be honest about the condition and value of your car, and be prepared to negotiate a fair price (and maybe dodge a few low-ball offers too).

Get the Money You Deserve for Your Junk Car

Your car may not be serving you the way it used to, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get anything from it.

Car Scrappers can get you an accurate estimate quickly and easily with our online calculator.

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