Time Needed: 1-2 hours, Difficulty: Beginner, Cost: $30-$250
Your car can become a huge part of your life, so it’s easy to understand how some people can form emotional attachments. Even so, there will come a day when that car no longer holds up its end of the bargain. It will eventually stop working altogether, at which point you’ll have to dispose of it. When your car gets to this point, you can donate it, tear it down to sell for parts, or you can scrap it and get a few bucks back in the process.
Scrapping a car is not a complicated process, but it will take some elbow grease on your part. There are many scrap yards across the country that are willing to take in old vehicles and pay out a small amount in return, but you’ll need to be sure that you’ve done the legwork before hauling your beater to the yard. Let Car Bibles’ editors cover the groundwork and get you started on the path to scrapping your old car.
The Safety Brief
A non-running car can present its own safety issues that you need to be aware of. Here are just a few.
- There’s a great chance that your scrap car has been sitting outside for a long time. Make sure there is no wildlife living under the hood before you start digging around.
- You’ll be handling gasoline and other harmful substances during this process. Wear gloves and eye protection at all times and be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.
- Work on a flat surface. There’s nothing worse than wrestling to keep a car safely on jacks or jack stands while it’s parked on a hill.
- You may feel confident that your junk car can be safely driven on the road, but it’s best not to chance it. You’re scrapping it for a reason, remember?
The Tools & Parts You Need
Depending on how you go about scrapping your vehicle, you could need as little as a common set of hand tools or as much as a trailer or tow truck. The list below contains optional equipment that won’t be needed if you pay someone to tow your car instead of hitching up yourself.
- Hand tools (socket set, etc.)
- Gloves and eye protection
- Jack and jack stand
- Automotive repair manual
- Tubing and pump to remove fuel and fluids
- Approved container to store fuel and fluids
- Tow straps or chains
Let’s get to it.
1. Make sure the car you’re looking to scrap is actually scrap
Your burning desire to scrap the car aside, you may actually have a running and driving car on your hands. If this is the case, you’ll almost always get more selling it as an actual vehicle than you would sell it as scrap. List the car on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace at a reasonable price ($500 or so) and watch it go.
2. Call Around To Find Out How Much A Scrap Yard Will Pay
Don’t settle for the first offer you get. Different yards pay different amounts for cars. You may find a specialty yard for things like European vehicles and trucks, so take your time to find the best recipient of your vehicle.
3. Make Sure You’ve Cleaned The Car To The Standards Required By Your Scrap Yard Of Choice
By clean, we don’t mean scrubbing carpets and shampooing seats. We’re talking about fluids and other potentially harmful parts of your vehicle. Check with your scrap yard to determine if it requires you to drain the gas tank or remove and dispose of any other fluids.
4. Remove Added-Value Items From Vehicle
You might be scrapping the entire car, but some yards will pay extra if you’ve taken the time to remove certain components. Electrical items like the starter and alternator can net you a few extra bucks if they’re sold separately. This includes the battery. You’ll also want to remove the catalytic converter. They are in high demand and could net you as much as $50 on its own.
5. Load The Vehicle Up And Take To The Scrap Yard
Before doing this, make sure you’re hauling the vehicle in the way that your scrap yard requires. Some might have special procedures for drop offs and towing, so check before you tow.
Your Questions, Our Answers on Scrap Car
Q. Can I Donate My Scrap Car?
A. You can! Several organizations offer free pickup of scrap cars and can make good use of your old beater. You won’t get paid, but you can use the donation as a write off on your taxes.
Q. I Don’t Want To Scrap My Car. Can’t Someone Just Come Take It?
A. You’ll want to check your local listings, but most areas have plenty of people willing to haul off junk, and some that will even pay you for it. Just keep in mind that the convenience of having someone else do your dirty work will cost you some money – most junk picker-uppers won’t pay as much as a scrap yard will, but they’re doing the hauling for you.
Q. Can I Scrap A Car Without A Title?
A. This will depend on your state. Some require vehicles under a certain age to have a title to transfer ownership, which in this case would mean the yard can’t take your junker without the title.
Q. Can I Put A Scrapped Car Back On The Road?
A. This again will depend on where you live. Many places will not allow a scrapped vehicle to return to the road legally. Some issue what is called a “destruction order,” or something similar, where the car is deemed no longer roadworthy. This cannot be undone.
Video Tutorial on Scrap Car
We know some of you are kinesthetic learners. That’s why we’ve pulled this video from one of our trusted sources. Check it out.
Best Places To Buy Tools and Parts to Scrap A Car?
The world is your oyster when it comes to products to help you scrap your car. Knowing that we don’t want to overload you with a sales pitch. We’ve chosen a handful of our favorite products, each of which is affordable, useful, and well-reviewed, including this Pro-Lift Jack Stand, this 128-piece Tool Set, a pair of Mechanix Large Work gloves, and Amazon’s awesome Tow Straps.
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