The Right Way To Use Your Local Junkyard

Owners of unwanted cars often decide to sell the parts of their car for scrap metal. There comes the point where some cars aren’t operable anymore, or their remaining vehicle life is short. In other situations, the body of the vehicle can show cosmetic wear and tear. Perhaps the car was in an accident and had damage to the frame or internal damage that jeopardized its safety.  

In these situations, selling parts of cars that have cosmetic or other mechanical issues becomes a lucrative choice. But the question often is – how much can I get for selling my car’s metal parts for scrap?

What affects the scrap market value of your car?

There are several factors that influence how much cash you might get for your junk car. Consider this list below to determine if selling your car for parts is really worth it.

Is your car in working condition? Cars that are not in working condition are valued as scrap metal vs. an operable vehicle. However, you might be able to get more for a car that is in working condition as junkyards can reuse pre-owned parts. Be sure to note that the make and model of the car will matter too. Certain cars are simply worth more than others.

Does your car have cosmetic issues such as rust, a damaged paint job, etc.? If your car has rust or corrosion, then its value will be less as it devalues the metal. To get a decent amount of money for your car, there needs to be good quality metal that can be used for scrap. Metal that has corroded is hard for scrap metal dealers to resell to recyclers.

Does your engine use petrol or diesel fuel? Older engines produce significantly more emissions than new ones and are therefore less valuable.

Does your car have other usable parts? Scrap dealers will look at far more than just the metal on your vehicle. Steering wheels, tires, seats, etc., can often be reused and that might help you get a bit more money,

Finally, it is important to know that scrap metal prices vary from time to time. Cast iron, aluminum, and steel all have different values. When there is a shortage of one and there is more demand, you may be able to get more than when there is an overage of supply.

How is scrap metal priced?

The value of scrap metal varies based on supply and demand, but it also varies geographically based on where you are in the world. Scrap Monster is a great resource to determine the potential value of your scrap metal. The site should tell you how much you can expect to receive per pound.

Aside from supply and demand, fluctuation in the prices of scrap metal is also caused by the cost of energy, production, and the price of virgin metals. Certain metals are also worth more during various times of the year, and when it is cold outside, fewer people tend to be working on their cars, making the value of your car a bit lower. 

What other items in my car have value?

As mentioned, other items inside your car can have value aside from the scrap metal. In addition to your steering wheel, tires, and seats, the following items may be worth a few extra bucks.


Air conditioning systems



Catalytic converters 


GPS systems

Motor oil

Oil filters






Windshield wiper arms 

How can I increase the value of the scrap metal in my car?

First, before you bring your car to a scrap metal junkyard, be sure to remove your personal belongings. Junkyards frown upon delays caused by owners that haven’t cleaned out their vehicles. This can result in a lower value for you.

Next, know that you can do a few things to make your car a bit more attractive to a scrap metal buyer. The better your car looks, the more money you will make. So, after you clean the personal belongings out of your car, be sure also to do the following.

Clean the dashboard, doors, and interior windows 

Use some touch-up paint to clean up minor scratches

Pop-out small dents 

Scrub the wheels and tires so that they look nicer 

Vacuum the inside of the car to rid it of dirt, dust, and debris

Use a fabric refresher spray inside the vehicle to mask odors and help your car smell fresher

What if I don’t have the title to my car?

You will not likely be able to sell your car without the title. The title is what shows the junkyard that the vehicle belongs to you and that you have the right to sell it. If you can’t find your title, you will need to request a new one from the department of motor vehicles in your state.

In rare cases, you may be able to sell your car to a junkyard if you have a mechanic’s or storage lien, a sales receipt from an auction, an affidavit from a repossession, or the car’s registration or certificate of insurance.

How do I find an auto salvage junkyard?

Junkyards are the perfect place for you to sell your old vehicle for cash, especially when you won’t be able to get much trade-in value at a car dealership. You can do an online search to find auto salvage yards and junkyards near you. And, most of these will provide you with a directional estimate to help you decide if you really should sell your car for scrap metal or parts.

The quote from the junkyard

In addition to seeing your title, the junkyard will want to know the make and model of the vehicle and the year it was manufactured. Be sure to note too that the vehicle title needs to be free and clear of any outstanding loans. If you have just paid off the loan on your car, you will likely need to provide the lien release that you will receive from the loan company after your final payment clears.

The junkyard will also want to know the mileage on the car, if it has any damage, and how much it weighs. To get an idea of what your car is worth, you can take its weight and then multiply that by the current price per ton on scrap metal.

Will junkyards take my car even if it is an eyesore?

As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. If your car is becoming an eyesore at home, the chances are that it is time to let it go to a junkyard, especially when you can get paid for it.


The scrap metals that are worth the most are copper, brass, silver, aluminum, stainless steel, gold, and lead. However, non-ferrous metals, including aluminum, copper, and brass, tend to be worth more than those containing iron (considered ferrous).

You may be pleasantly surprised by how much your car is worth. Though it is good to do some homework in advance so that you know the types of metals in your car, a reputable scrap buyer will have this information readily available and walk you through what your car has. If your car is just sitting around taking up space and you need a bit of extra cash, it is likely time for you to bring your car in to get a quote.

As we said before, your trash might be someone else’s treasure. But better yet, you might find that the treasure pads your pocketbook too.

Author: Brandon Park