How to scrap a car: scrap your car fast
It is a sad fact that when you own a car, its value depreciates every year. Cars that are 10-20 years old with high mileage usually lose their value and end up as near-worthless junk. It’s these kind of ‘scrap’ cars that this guide focuses on.
Need to know how to scrap it properly? No problem. But before you shout “scrap my car” and reach for your local scrap dealer, read on…
How to scrap a car explained:
- How much is a scrap car REALLY worth? We phoned three local scrap yards to find out
- The most obvious (and time consuming) alternatives to scrapping a car
- Bonus: The #1 way car owners are getting more than scrap value for their vehicle
- Warning: Notifying the DVLA and avoiding dodgy scrap dealers
- Summary: Which option is best?
When you enter your car’s reg, we send the details of your vehicle to many of the UK’s top car buying websites who return their best offers online. You can then compare prices and find your best deal to sell your car for scrap.
But even if you get a “valuation zero” summary of results on Motorway, that’s not the end of things…
Some cars have highly sought-after components. Other vehicles are part of a brand incentive that means getting up to 20x more than scrap value for a car.
Either way your car will always have value tied up on it.
OK, so you can’t get an offer more than “£0” online? Here’s your options…
Scrapping a car explained – your options
Thanks to low priced car leasing deals, and high tax costs for high CO2 emitting vehicles, older cars (especially ones over 15 years old) are nearing ‘worthless’ levels on the used car market.
It’s not just scrap cars. A 10-year old vehicle might have been worth thousands a decade ago, but you’ll be lucky to get a few hundred pounds for it now.
If the vehicle has also run out of MOT, has a fault, or has body damage, there’s a good chance it’s boarding a one-way ticket to the scrap yard.
And unfortunately, that’s not going to be producing the amount of pound notes that you expect.
If this sounds like your car, don’t despair. There are a few ways to get a little extra for your vehicle than pure scrap value.
How much is a scrap car really worth? We phoned three local scrap yards to find out
There’s a lot of conflicting information online; various websites mentioned values of £40-150 for a scrap car. The problem is, these articles were outdated, and the price of scrap metal moves daily. If they were right at time of writing, they certainly aren’t now.
So, how much is a scrap car really worth?
We decided to phone three local scrapyards that specialise in cars, all located in Birmingham.
They were all presented with the same option – to purchase “our vehicle” which was the following:
- 2006 Ford Focus 1.8 Diesel
- Average condition with good tyres
- 140,000 miles
- No service history
- Past MOT certificates & V5 present
- Runs and drives, but has an engine systems fault
Why this car and features? Because we found one that sold at an eBay online auction for £132, so it would make for a nice little case study.
All three of the scrap car dealers had a similar approach to making their blind offer; they all considered the car scrap, non-repairable.
Why? Because then there’s no risk involved for them. If the car can’t be fixed, they still make their cash on scrap. If it can be fixed, they’ll make a tidy sum.
The three dealers all made offers on the car, if it was delivered to them. The offers were as follows:
- £60 (ish, apparently!)
We asked if the value would deviate given a better model or brand.
And, they suggested 90% of the time, this is standard offering for any scrap car. Honestly, they didn’t seem all that interested in being given a half-decent vehicle for under £100.
That is, unless they see something that they find particularly valuable (they take this on a case-by-case basis).
This might include:
- A BMW with wheels known to be worth £250 or more (a much better option is to sell the wheels privately, and then scrap the rest of the car)
- A car with a low mile engine worth £500 or more (a much better option is to sell the engine privately, and scrap the rest, some mechanics will buy these engines and remove them on site)
It didn’t matter what car, or what the valuable item was, it boiled down to one thing; it’s better to sell the car or valuable part privately (and then scrap what’s left).
But, there is another option, and that’s in our BONUS section. It’s a 2-minute process that could see you get over 100% more for your car than scrap value, by filling out this simple form.
The most obvious (and time consuming) alternatives to scrapping a car
There’s one problem; all but one of the alternatives to scrapping a car are time consuming. And, therefore when a car breaks, scrapyards know that they have owners over a barrel.
Most people just don’t have the time to mess around; they need a new car fast and that means getting rid of their current vehicle.
In the case of our Ford Focus, we were offered an average of £70; very disappointing.
Yet, a quick search on eBay showed us that the wheels alone were selling for more than £70, the engine for more than £200, and even if we sold the vehicle for spares or repair, or maybe even a winter project, we’d be looking at achieving well over £100.
Sell your old car for parts
There’s only one way to get top dollar for your car; sell it for parts. Almost any car will be worth more in parts, than it will as a singular unit.
There’s a good reason for this.
First, the time and effort it takes to break down, store and sell parts means that not many people do it. Besides traditional scrapyards and the odd hobbyist, it’s not a particularly popular means of scrapping a car.
On the flip-side, this means that car parts hold their value – the market isn’t flooded with stock. So, if you have some storage space and a bit of time, you could be getting decent money for your vehicle, in parts.
Think of it like this. If a £2,000 car has a turbo fault, there’s a good chance the owner has been quoted £350-500 (parts only) for a new one. A second hand one could easily fetch £150 which is more than double what the average scrap yard will pay for the whole car.
Even on a generic car like a Ford Focus, wheels could be worth £80-100 or more, and the engine as a complete unit could be worth £150-250. It’s easy to see how all these sales quickly add up, and why scrapyards end up making so much money.
The best of it is, once you’ve got to a point where you are clutching at straws, the parts you have left are just not in demand, phone a scrap dealer and ask them to make an offer and collect the rest.
So, if you need as much money as possible, but do have lots of time and storage space; this is the way to go.
Here are the most in-demand and valuable parts of your car.
Yes, don’t forget to clear out the glovebox. GPS and other items stashed in the vehicle could be worth some decent money.
And, if the GPS is a built-in system, check eBay and Gumtree to see if there is a demand for it. If there is, can it easily be removed and sold?
Bodywork And Mirrors
Go to most scrapyards and one thing becomes evident; most of the cars don’t have mirrors.
Why? Because mirrors can range from £50 (for a standard mirror) to £250 (for a heated mirror), from a dealer. A scrap yard will generally take £20-60 depending on the make and model; they go fast.
The same goes for bodywork. If the vehicle is a popular colour such as black, blue, red or white, the bodywork could be worth a lot of cash.
As an example, a pair of front wings for a Ford Focus just sold on eBay for £80.
Get stripping and get selling.
Doors And The Roof
There are two things that are notoriously hard to repair on a vehicle; the doors and roof. Paint damage isn’t an issue, but dents are. Most of the time, these dents can’t be removed.
And, that makes these items not just sought after, but incredibly expensive.
A new battery for a car like a Ford Focus will sit in the £100 range. Does your vehicle have a good battery? Even if it’s not new, you could expect to get £35-50, and extremely quickly too.
This is one of the most valuable and quickest selling items on a scrap car.
Expect to get £80-120 for an average set of wheels with good tyres, within a matter of days.
Why are wheels and tyres as a set so popular?
A budget tyre will cost £55-75 per wheel. So, a new set could cost a car owner £220-300. Imagine how happy they’d be if they could bolt on a semi-used set themselves for around £100?
Finally, we have the engine. The value of the engine depends on its condition (i.e. no faults), mileage, age and the car it has come out of.
In the case of our 2006 Ford Focus, we’d expect to get around £200 for a fully working engine. This is reduced to £100 for ours with its fault.
However, there are a lot of cars where the engine is going to be worth much more than that. Check eBay and Gumtree to see how much the engine for your car is going for, and price accordingly.
Sell it privately as spares or repairs
So, we’ve covered the most lucrative, but also the most time-consuming way to sell a scrap car.
Next, we’ve got something not as lucrative, but also not as time consuming.
And, this involves avoiding a car scrapyard – try to sell the vehicle yourself privately, just as you would any other used car.
The catch here comes in two parts.
First, you’re going to have to invest a little time in creating a listing. Even though the car might not be worth much, you need to create a good listing to maximise the sales value. That includes:
- A full description
- Multiple high-quality images
If you don’t have the time to spend 30 minutes to an hour doing this, then this isn’t the route for you.
Secondly, there are costs. Looking around the most popular websites for selling used cars, we can see that there’s a high demand for cars like yours on two websites:
Gumtree is free for private sellers. The reason is it just doesn’t have the footfall that a site like eBay has.
If you want to guarantee a quick sale using an auction style format, eBay is the top choice. However, there’s an insertion fee of £10 and a fee if you want to put a reserve on your vehicle of £7.99. If it doesn’t sell, that’s cash lost.
So, you’ve decided this is the best place to scrap your car, but you’re wondering who would buy it, and why?
There’s two types of people that just eat up cars like yours all day long:
The most expensive part of fixing a car is the labour. So, imagine you’re a mechanic that has regular small gaps you can’t fill in your diary.
What better way to fill these gaps than to buy cars to fix up, and sell them at a profit?
And therefore, mechanics will pay more than a scrapyard for your vehicle. They don’t see your “unit” as £60 into their yard, and potentially £150-200 into their pocket over the next 2 years.
A mechanic will have a clear plan to fix and flip your car, looking to make £300-500 or more in the process; they make their money in labour.
The world is full of petrolheads and car junkies. They love breaking, fixing, scrapping and stripping down anything. They might be looking for a project to fix up, to break your car down for spares as a project, or to use the motor for a donor vehicle.
Typically, these people won’t offer as much as mechanics, but again, they tend to offer much more than a scrapyard will.
eBay has quickly become a wonderful place to find cheap motors. But, for sellers, it’s also the perfect place to sell.
Search “Project Car” or “Car spares or repair” and you’ll find over 1,000 listings. And, look how many of them are listed, bid up to and sold for over the £60-75 we were offered from a scrapyard.
Gumtree gets a lot of web visitors, but nowhere near the amount of eBay. It’s also hard to navigate, so there’s a good chance people won’t even see your vehicle.
That said, if you have already created the advert for eBay, use the same description and images for Gumtree; this should only take an extra couple of minutes.
Gumtree doesn’t offer an auction feature, so you’ll need to list a price. Try and gauge what cars like yours are listed for on Gumtree, and check recent prices on eBay.
It’s worth setting a price £50-75 above what similar vehicles have sold for. Gumtree users are notorious hagglers.
Bonus: How to get more money for your car, for zero hassle
So, you don’t want to break your car for spares, and you don’t have the time to list it on eBay, especially when you’re not guaranteed to get a reasonable price?
Luckily, there is another option.
You may have seen the influx of car buying adverts on TV. They say they’ll buy any car, but the reality is, it needs to be in perfect working order, with some valid MOT left.
If you’re looking to scrap your vehicle, there’s a good chance that’s not the case.
CarTakeBack.com is a scrap recycling company, and is the approved recycler for major car brands including Aston Martin, Citroen, Colt, Dacia, Daimler, Datsun, DS, Ford, Hillman, Humber, Infiniti, Iveco, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus, Mazda, MG, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Perodua, Peugeot, Proton, Range Rover, Renault, Simca, SsangYong, Sunbeam, Talbot and Volvo.
And, even if the brand of your vehicle isn’t on that list, there’s a good chance they can help.
So, how does it work?
Visit their website and fill out the online valuation form here, it only takes a minute. All you need to do is enter your registration number and postcode.
The second your information has been submitted, the CarTakeBack team will be searching for how they can get the highest possible price for your vehicle, on a local basis.
Once they’ve figured out exactly what your car is worth, they’ll make an offer.
As an example, they recently paid £195 for a Nissan Almera, and £170 for a Ford Mondeo. That’s a pretty good deal.
Consider the fact that in our example of phoning scrap car dealers, we were only offered £60-75 for a fully working Ford Focus.
There will be two prices offered by the company. They offer a price for a delivered vehicle (you take the vehicle to a specified location) and a collected vehicle (they’ll come and collect the vehicle from a specified location).
So, there’s the potential to make a lot of extra cash using CarTakeBack, for little in the way of effort.
Warning: Notifying the DVLA and avoiding dodgy scrap dealers
Notifying the DVLA of your scrapped vehicle
There’s a big mistake people make when scrapping their car, and it costs money; they forget to notify the DVLA.
If you don’t notify the DVLA has been scrapped, guess what? You’ll be liable to pay tax on the vehicle. And, your next bill is probably going to be more than what a scrapyard will have paid for you the car.
So, here is what you need to do.
Find the V5C for your vehicle. On the V5C they’ll be a section labelled “Certification of Destruction”. You’ll need to fill in all the relevant details, and send the form off to the DVLA as soon as possible.
If you’ve paid up tax for the year on your vehicle, there’s a good chance you’ll be eligible for a refund. Apply for this and cancel your insurance for some free cash.
Avoiding dodgy scrap dealers
The Government is cracking down on dodgy scrap dealers, for good reason. They tear apart items, scrapping the metal, and fly-tipping the items that aren’t accepted at scrap yards (such as motor oils and fluids). And, this costs us and the Government money to clean up.
In 2013, the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act was introduced. As a scrap dealer, it’s now against the law to pay for a scrap car in physical cash (bank payments are fine). This also means the seller needs to prove their own the vehicle by showing ID and proof of address.
If a dealer offers cash, doesn’t ask for ID, and doesn’t ask for proof of address, avoid them.
Car scrap yards
The traditional ways of doing things are slowly dying, for good reason. In this case, scrapping your car by taking it to a scrapyard is going to be time consuming, and yield the least amount of cash.
Average price paid
From our calls to several car scrapyards, we were promised anywhere between £60-75, and that’s for a car that runs, drives and has some MOT. Not good.
Selling a car for parts
This is certainly the most lucrative option. But, it’s also the most time consuming.
And, we don’t just mean in terms of photographing and listing items. Items like the engine and wheels might sell quickly, but it could take years to get rid of everything else. So, you also need space.
If you have the time and patience, this could be the option for you.
Average price paid
For the most in-demand and valuable items in a vehicle, you could expect to achieve £300-400 within a matter of weeks. What that leaves you with though, is a car, that likely has no engine or wheels. What do you do with it next?
A great option for those that have a little time to create a description, take some photos and are available to show buyers the vehicle.
Average Price Paid
Looking around eBay and Gumtree, an average scrap car (usually listed as spares or repair) will achieve £80-130.
Scrap Car Buying Websites
Scrap car buying websites such as CarTakeBack.com are in the middle ground. They don’t offer ridiculously low prices like scrapyards, but they can’t offer what you’d get by breaking a car for spares.
They offer a reasonable price (and option) for those that don’t have the time (or storage) to break a vehicle or sell privately.
Average price paid
Expect offers in the region of £100-150. Two prices will be offered, one whereby CarTakeBack.com offer collection and one where you deliver to them.
Looking to get a quote for your scrap car? Try Motorway.co.uk first, then give Cartakeback a go. Between the two, you should find a suitable price.
Want to read more about the many options for selling your car, try our ultimate car selling guide for a full market takedown.
Car scrapping not for you?
You may wish to consider a manufacturer car scrappage scheme which is a viable option for old, but still roadworthy cars.
Car scrappage schemes are offered by the likes of BMW, Toyota, Audi, Mercedes and many other car brands. Or have a read about other ways to sell your car in our handy guides:
- Compare car buyers online
- Sell my car fast with Motorway
- Cash for cars online
- Value your car: Online car valuation
- Who will buy my car today?
- How to sell a car on finance: Step-by-step guide
- How to part exchange a car: Complete guide
- How to sell your car for free: Complete guide
- Companies that buy cars: Complete guide
- Car value: The ultimate guide
- CO2 Emissions: Complete guide