How to Sell Your Car to a Junkyard for Top Dollar

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by Jack Brewer

Updated

Are you looking to get that old junker off of your property? It can feel overwhelming when you’re trying to find out how to sell a car to the junkyard.

How do you know you’re getting a fair deal? Do you have other options besides selling cars to salvage yards?

On top of all that, with the price of scrap metal fluctuating weekly, it can be tough to nail your timing.

Luckily, we’re here to help with our definitive guide to how to get the most money for your ride.

What you’ll need to sell your car to junkyard?

Luckily, there’s not much to it when it comes to paperwork. To sell your vehicle to a scrapyard (or any place that buys cars), you’ll need a physical copy of the title showing your ownership of the car.

If you don’t have the title available, contact your local DMV for a copy. Be sure to give yourself a few weeks before trying to sell the car or truck, as it might take some time to receive the title in the mail.

In addition, you’ll also need to ensure the title is clean. Very few companies will accept a title that has liens against it, so ensure that any outstanding debts are paid before attempting to sell your vehicle.

You should also have a fair understanding of what condition your car is in, as you may be able to sell it for much more than you would get at a junkyard. If you just want it gone, then go the scrap route.

But if your goal is to maximize your profits, it might be in your interest to go another way. Check out our list of ways you could sell it below for more information on that.

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How to sell your car to a junkyard for top dollar?

Now that you’re ready to haul your car off to the scrap heap let’s discuss the most effective way to get the transaction underway.

Research a Few Junk Yards

Try to find a few junkyards within a 15-20 mile radius of where the car is located. Going much further than that may lower your offer price due to towing costs the junkyard would accrue.

Once you have a list of at least three junkyards, give them each a call and request an offer estimate for your car.

The manager or owner may ask you a few questions about the car’s condition to see if it runs and how damaged the cosmetic condition is, so try to be as honest as possible.

It’s also fine to say you don’t know the answer if you’re not mechanically inclined.

The more information you’re able to give the yard, the better chance you’ll have of getting an accurate quote for your car.

Compare Your Offers

Once you receive your offers from multiple scrap yards, take some time to review each quote and make sure that you fully understand the terms and what the payment for your car includes.

One offer might seem to be the winner until you realize they won’t pick up your vehicle. Unfortunately, you’d be out the cost to get your car delivered, decreasing your take home.

Do a Once Over Before Handing Over the Car

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Before turning over the vehicle, make sure you do a thorough once over to make sure any personal items or papers are out of the car.

Once you sign the title over, you will rarely have the ability to access the car, so be sure you’re confident that anything you might want is out of the car before delivery.

Accept Payment and Sign Over the Title

Once you and the junkyard representative agree on the car’s condition, you’ll then finish the paperwork and transfer the title over to them.

They’ll then cut you a check or pay cash, depending on how they usually handle business. Make sure you hold onto any bill of sale or other paperwork associated with selling your car, as you’ll need it for the next step.

Follow Up with the DMV or BMV

Once the sale is finalized, you’ll need to notify the government that you no longer are the owner of the car. This is a required step to protect yourself in case of any legal issues.

If there are ever any issues that come up where the VIN or serial number is pulled off the car, you don’t want it to come back to you.

Depending on your state, there may be different requirements that you’ll need to adhere to before revoking ownership.

Some states will want the original license plates turned in, while others might require a copy of the bill of sale or a combination of other documents.

Your DMV will then issue a notice saying that the car is no longer in your possession and is no longer your responsibility.

This paperwork may take a few weeks to come in the mail, but check in with the DMV if you don’t receive it after 30 days. Whatever you do, do NOT skip this part, especially if the car was insured.

Notify Your Insurance Agency

Once you receive the paperwork from the State certifying that the car is no longer yours, send that paperwork to your insurance agency so that they can remove the vehicle from your policy.

Many agencies will require certification from the state before making any changes, so reach out to your local agent to ensure everything has been received.

The removal from your policy shouldn’t take more than a few days after they receive your documents.

5 Tips to Sell Your Car for Even More Money

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Selling your car for scrap is a pretty straightforward process that doesn’t leave much room for nuance.

That said, there are a few ways you can ensure the amount you receive is the best deal for your wallet. Here are our recommendations.

1. Contact Multiple Junkyards

Never accept the first offer from one junkyard! Do your research, read reviews, and call around with questions to multiple yards before deciding where to go.

Doing this extra legwork could add up to a few hundred dollars more in your favor.

2. Check the Price of Scrap Metal

The price of scrap metal fluctuates much like the stock market, so you must try to time your sale with a high point in the market.

Typically scrap goes for about $150 a ton, so try to use that amount as a baseline when determining whether you should jump now or wait it out a little.

3. Work Only with Licensed Junkyards

While it might seem tempting to work with an unlicensed business that offers you more money, it’s best to play it safe and work only with licensed junkyards.

Unknowing sellers have often been scammed out of their money due to shady businesses mishandling the sale.

Save yourself the headache (and possible loss of funds) by ensuring the company you’re working with is legitimate and fully licensed.

4. Negotiate Terms

While there isn’t a ton of wiggle room when it comes to scrapping a car, you may be able to pad your price a little more if you can negotiate terms.

If your car still runs, ask if the junkyard can waive the fee for towing and add that to your final price.

5. Answer All Questions Truthfully

The more information the scrap yard has, the better they’ll be able to quote you a realistic estimate.

When your car enters the yard, it will be given an inspection by a mechanic or the owner.

If they find you were untruthful about some aspect, they may reduce your payment or refuse to take your car. Be as honest as possible when explaining the condition of the car.

They will ask you questions like:

  • How old is the car?
  • Is it running?
  • What cosmetic damage is there?
  • Is it leaking any fluids?
  • Are there any precautions that they need to know to handle it safely?

Other Great Ways to Get Rid of Your Car

If selling your car to a scrap yard isn’t working out the way you expected, there are still ways you can get rid of your vehicle without taking a total loss.

Dealerships

If your car isn’t entirely totaled, you may still be able to get a dealership to take it off of your hands.

The catch here is that they’ll most likely want you to buy a new car and use this car as a trade-in. Most likely, they’ll give you the rate they expect to sell it at an auto auction.

Some dealerships even offer limited-time promotions where they’ll give top dollar for your car as a trade-in, no matter the condition.

Auto Auctions

If you can get to an auto auction, you may be able to sell your car quickly and walk out with cash the same day.

Selling at auctions isn’t as easy as you might think, though.

These are usually open to the industry only and are often reserved for wholesale lots, but keep an eye out for auctions that allow public sales.

Donate Your Car

While it might not be upfront cash, donating your car to a charity can help increase your deductions, saving you money during tax time.

A few charities that accept cars include:

  • Kars4Kids
  • Make-a-Wish through their Wheels for Wishes program
  • Vehicles for Veterans
  • One Car, One Difference
  • The Arc Vehicle DOnation
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Autos for Animals

Sell It for Parts

If you have the ability to break it down, you may be able to get a good deal selling parts to private buyers.

The retail trade for car parts has accounted for almost $1.25 trillion in 2020 alone, so it’s worth considering before altogether scrapping your vehicle.

This can be an especially lucrative way to go as many car collectors seek out original parts for their restorations if your car is vintage.

Sell It Privately

Private listing sites are another way to go if you’re unable to part your car out.

Try to take as many pictures as possible and have detailed information in the listing to save yourself some time answering questions from tire kickers.

A few options that cater to auto sales include:

  • Ebay.com
  • Craigslist.org
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • KBB.com
  • Cars.com
  • AutoTrader.com

Sell It to a Loved One or Your Mechanic

Sometimes it’s just easier to pass it onto someone who you know would love the car. If it’s still in good condition, consider offering it up to a teenager in your family who saved up for their first car.

If you aren’t interested in selling it to friends or family and you have a good relationship with your mechanic, ask if they’d be interested in taking it off of your hands.

Many mechanics love to tinker with cars on the side, and since they’d know what work has already been done to it, they might be inclined to buy it from you.

Wrapping Up

Selling a car to a junkyard is a relatively easy process once you learn of the ins and outs of it.

By taking your time to research the options around your city, you’ll be able to get an idea of what to expect and how much you will receive from the sale.

Feel free to use this guide as a baseline for what to expect and how you can get the most bang for your buck.

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About the Author

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Jack Brewer is passionate about all things personal finance, and enjoys testing out new side hustles and investing strategies.