What is a junk car? There term junk car can mean a lot of things. It could be that the cost and frequency of repairs become too much. You’re finding it harder to source spare parts as your car starts to age and become less common. Routine checks might be costing more than the car is worth, and some of the damage might be irreparable. Of course, sometimes, significant accidents or issues mean that this time comes far sooner than we’d like. So you might be wondering How to estimate the value of my junk car? Well, there’s no straightforward answer to that question, but here are some of the factors that will determine your Junk Car Value.
How to Estimate the Value of My Junk Car?
There is no magic formula. You can’t just say Something x something = junk value. Every scenario is different, because there are too many independent variables too predict. There are a few factors that can help you estimate the value of your junk car.
The Condition of the Car
Most cars sold to junkyards are beyond repair, but that doesn’t mean that the individual parts aren’t resalable. Even if your vehicle is a total write off, junkers may be able to sell some of the parts for spares. If not, it will all be sold on as scrap metal, and the price that you will get will be lower.
If your car is in better condition, and still drivable, the price that you will get will reflect that some of its functioning parts. Some written cars can be resold as salvage titles or even flipped at auction. All of this will be reflected in the price if the car actually drives.
One thing that won’t affect the price, however, is the book value of the car. It’s not going to be sold as a roadworthy car no matter what, so its value based on guides like the Kelley Blue Book, NADA Guide or Edmunds doesn’t matter. I do like to reference these resources to get a ball park, but you are much better off looking for comps online to help estimate the value.
The Market for It’s Used Parts
There are general parts that have value that a junkyard would want. Junkyards love parts like alternators, starters, batteries, and motors. These are the parts that deteriorate the fastest when left outside in the elements. If these parts are still in functioning condition, you can look them up and see how much salvage yards in your area sell them for. This can help you estimate your vehicles value to the junkyard.
These parts are really good, because they are interchangeable across different models and years. So an owner of an 2007 Toyota Corolla can use a starter from a 2005 Corolla. This increases the parts market value.
The Cars Make, Model and Year
Modern, popular, high-end or particularly desirable cars might fetch more as junk because the individual parts are worth more on resale. If there is a demand for specific parts that your car has in good condition, it will fetch more.
Older vehicles, unless they are classics, might not fetch as much, even if parts such as tires, starter motors, suspension, and alternators- which are easily removed for resale before scrapping- are in good condition, because the demand for them isn’t as high. This is true unless it is a rare vehicle with hard to find parts.
If you have functioning parts for a vehicle that has collectors and enthusiasts, you may get better prices. A good example is any JDM parts. There are troves of people seeking parts for JDM Subaru’s, Nissan’s, Toyota’s, Honda’s, etc. This is also true of Volkswagen’s, Jeeps, Mustangs, Corvettes, etc…If you have custom or aftermarket parts like turbos, spoilers, carbon fiber panels, a scrap car with these add-ons can get much more.
Miles on the Odometer
A very high mileage on an older car is often a sign that its components are in poor condition, and may not be suitable to sell used. If the car is only good for scrap metal you won’t get much for it. An engine with 250K miles on it, isn’t gonna fetch anything and the salvage will possible rebuild it depending on what kind of engine it is. It’s not just the engine either that is affected by the odometer reading, it is all the components attached to it, that drop significantly in value.
If you are trying to estimate the value of a junk car with high mileage, consider that to be a significant reduction on mechanical parts value estimates.
If the vehicle contains no functioning parts with value, then all that matters is how much scrap metal is on the car. The weight of the car is a good indicator of how much a vehicle is worth in scrap metal. The average car is about 2,400 lbs of steel and 300 lbs of aluminum. If your vehicle is heavier or lighter it will impact the price. If the vehicle is driveable you can take it and put it on a car scale. If not, you may need to estimate the weight.
Here is a list of average curb weights in 2019 from Auto Shop Accessories…
Current Price of Scrap
Whether your car’s components are in good condition, or high demand, some of it will simply become scrap metal, so the current value of scrap plays a big part in how much your junk car will fetch. If the cost of scrap is high, you’ll get a better price than if the overall value is low.
So using the curb weight above and looking up the scrap value for steel and aluminum can give you a rough estimate on the value of your junk car. Click here for the site I use to get current scrap metal prices. Note that scrap metal prices are also impacted by your location.
There are two potential ways your location impacts your cars junk value. First is the scrap metal prices in your area and secondly can you get the car to a salvage yard yourself. As I just mentioned above different locales have different rates in scrap steel and aluminum. You may get a better deal in one part of the country then another.
If you live next to the scrapyard, or you are driving past one when your car breaks down for the final time, then your vehicle can be collected quickly and easily. If you are much further away from the junkyard, and you can’t drive your car in, it will have to be towed or transported in. The cost of gas, as well as traveling time and labor, will be either charged to you or taken out of the price that you get for your car. Ask for a quote factoring this in, before agreeing on a deal.
Many salvage yards will provide a tow for free. If you however can get the vehicle to them and spare them the labor, you may get a bump in your offer.
Other Helpful Resources
We have some additional resources that you may find beneficial if you are getting ready to junk a car…
- How to Junk A Car
- How to Get Max Value for a Junk Car
- What Data Needs to Be Removed From Cars Before They Are Junked
- Who Buys Junk Cars Near Me
How to Estimate the Value of My Junk Car – Final Thoughts…
So as you can see there are a lot of factors to consider when figuring out what the junk car is worth. Figuring out the price is complicated and unique to each vehicle. The best thing to do is call around and get multiple offers. The rule of thumb though is, figure out what the scrap price is, add on any additional value for parts, and subtract value for issues like needing a tow. This is how I would estimate the value of my junk car.