What Are Scrap Car Prices In the US?

Run a Scrap Yard? Advertise Here!

Contact Us for Details

You’ve decided that your non-operational vehicle is ready to get scrapped. You also want to make sure that you’re receiving the best scrap car prices that are available in your state. If you’re ready to sell, then here is how the pricing on scrap cars work so you can make sure you’re getting the best price possible.

Most Scrap Cars Are Sold Per Ton

Like ferrous metals, scrap cars are generally sold by the ton. Some markets may even tie-in the bulk ferrous metal rates with the scrap car rates. When you’re selling an entire vehicle, the make and model will be evaluated for a certain percentage of metals. This assigned percentage that is considered non-metal is then removed from the final price quoted when you’re selling a car for scrap.

For example: John owns a 1996 Chevy Cavalier. He looks up the specifications for his car from the manufacturer to find out that his vehicle weighs 2,620 pounds, or 1.31 tons. Based on the local market price for his scrap car, he can then multiply whatever the per ton price happens to be by the actual tonnage of the Cavalier. At $165 per ton, that would let John know to expect a price of about $215 for his scrap car.

Some states allow scrappers to sell by a different tonnage rate, however, and this is where things can get confusing. There is a 240 pound difference between a net ton and a metric ton. The net ton is the measurement which most people know, where 1 ton = 2,000 pounds. The metric ton, which some dealers might call a “long ton,” is actually 2,240 pounds.

In the example above, this means John’s price quote would drop from $215 to about $190 based on that core rate.

You Must Self-Transport To Receive the Quoted Price

When you’ve got a scrap car that you’re trying to sell, there’s a good chance that it isn’t in a usable condition. This creates a secondary problem for those who want to make money from their junk car. To receive the full quote, the car must be delivered to the dealer during its regular operating hours. Since the average person doesn’t own a tow truck or trailer that can transport this amount of weight, the only other option is to have the dealer pick up the car meant to be scrapped.

Most dealers will just take the price of this transport out of the quoted price for the vehicle. Using the example above, if John is receiving a quote in the long ton, then the profit he can make from his scrap car could drop from about $190 to about $100. This is assuming he has the registration and licensing of the vehicle in accordance with his local laws.

Certain Components Add Value to the Scrap Car

Many dealers are going to count on the fact that you’re not aware certain components on a vehicle have a better scrap rate than the bulk vehicle rate. This is even true in states where the bulk car scrap rate is based on the bulk ferrous rates. The two main components to look at are the rims and the factory catalytic converter that may be on the vehicle. Rims can be as much as $10 a piece depending on their weight and quality. The catalytic converter can bring in as much as $200 and is easily the highest value scrap item on a vehicle.

Why are the catalytic converters worth so much? It’s because many of them are created with precious metals. Platinum or palladium can commonly be found inside the converter. Rhodium is also found from time to time. Even if the catalytic converter isn’t a factory model, it can still be removed and scrapped for a high value price. You may be required to remove a non-factory catalytic converter on your own, however, so keep this in mind before settling on a scrap value.

Using the example above, let’s say John knows that his Cavalier has both of these things. Although many dealers try to say they offer a fair, competitive rate that you can accept or reject, it is perfectly fine to negotiate on the scrap value of the car. This is especially true when there are additional components of value.

John tells his dealer that he’s got 4 aluminum rims on the vehicle and there’s a factory catalytic converter installed. He accepts an additional $25 for his rims and takes $85 for the catalytic converter. He’s just added another $110 to the value of his junk car and can now sell it for $210, including removal from his property, and all he’s got to do is sign over the title and registration to make that happen.

Easy peasy. But what if John could get a better scrap price for his car than $210? If John is willing to do some of the work on his own, he could potentially triple the value of his junk car. Here’s how he could do it.

Many Car Components Have a High Resale Value

If there are working components on a vehicle, then they may have greater value as a used part on the resale market than as scrap. From front to back, there are numerous opportunities that John can take to increase the overall value he receives from his junk car. Here are some common examples where more money can be made with very little work.

  • The battery. Car batteries that work can be resold for $15-$25 to someone who has the same make/model of vehicle if they work. If the battery is not operational, the local auto parts store likely has a recycling program that will offer a $10 gift certificate in exchange for the used battery.
  • The tires. If the tires on the junk vehicle are still useable and undamaged, then they could sell for up to $50 each depending on the wear and tear on them. Even damaged tires can sometimes be repaired and used afterward for a net profit of $10 per tire.
  • The radiator. Depending on what metals are in the radiator, it could be possible to receive $1 per pound to scrap the radiator by itself. It can also be a high quality used part that can bring in $30-$75 depending on the vehicle and the condition of the part.

The headlight covers, tailight covers, dashboard components, spark plugs, brakes, and hoses all have the potential to add value to a junk vehicle. Certain vehicles also have certain parts that tend to wear out prematurely. The Pontiac Grand Am GT models from the 2000s, for example, tend to have an early fuel pump failure. Pulling these commonly needed parts out of a scrap vehicle if the part is in good condition can bring in lots of extra cash. 

Using the example from above, let’s say John decides to do a lot of the scrapping work on his own. He sells the tires and rims independently, then recycles the used battery, and removes some body and interior components for a total of $480.

Now here’s the best part: John can still scrap the rest of his vehicle at a dealer based on the actual weight of metal in his vehicle. Let’s say there’s still 2,000 pounds left when he’s done and that the remainder of the junk car is 90% metal. This gives him a scrap rate of $148 for the remainder of his vehicle, plus the $480 he got in parts, for a total of $628 on a car that is completely non-functional. 

Where To Get the Best Scrap Car Prices

Not all of the scrap yards in the United States are equipped to accept auto scrap. It is important to check with your local dealer to make sure a scrap car will be accepted before heading into the facilities. Auto scrap specific shops may give you a slightly better rate than a generic scrap shop that accepts junk cars, so be sure to contact all local dealers before settling on a price.

You’ll also get a better price if you bring the vehicle into the scrap yard instead of having the dealer pick the junk car up. If you have towing insurance through AAA or a similar carrier, you may be able to tow the scrap car to the yard in a low or no cost arrangement. Otherwise most rates are in the $50-$100 range depending on the distance from your property to the scrap yard.

To scrap cars for cash, you may need to take apart your junker and sell some parts independently to get the best possible price. It’s possible to receive 3x-5x the amount for your vehicle if you sell parts individually instead of selling a whole vehicle as scrap. Consider the condition of your vehicle, what parts could be salvaged, and what high value items may be available before settling on a quote from a scrap yard. In doing so, you’ll be able to get the best scrap car prices in your area.

Run a Scrap Yard? Advertise Here!

Contact Us for Details