How to Junk a Car in 10 Easy StepsJunking a car can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to be. We all want the most value out of our junker and not spend time doing it. Knowing who buys junk cars near you and what steps to take for how to junk a car are only half the battle. The rest is good negotiation skills, knowing alternative options, and having reasonable expectations for selling your junker.


Today we will address…

How to Junk a Car – From Prep to Sale in 10 Easy Steps


How to Junk a Car in 10 Easy Steps


So you have committed to dumping your car or truck. Follow this guide to prepare for the sale and learn how to junk a car for max value.

1. Remove Personal Belongings

When you own a vehicle for a long time, personal items tend to accumulate inside. Whatever is inside your car at the time your transfer ownership to the salvage yard is no longer yours. You need to remove all your personal stuff prior to dropping it off or having it hauled away for you. The danger of not pulling out your stuff is the salvage yard might put your vehicle in the lot as is. You probably don’t want your box of tax returns left in the trunk. Do a thorough inspection for personal items and you may even discover other things you missed. Remember this is your last chance to do this.


Check all the popular storage spots like the glove boxes, the center console, door storage containers, the trunk, and the flaps on the backs of seats. Then check the less obvious places like under floor mats, above visors, inside sun glass holders, and under the seats. If there is a multi-disk changer, remove all your compact disks. Even things like receipts, insurance cards, and car service records should not be left in the vehicle. Paperwork has the potential for personal identifiable information on it and you have no idea who is going through your car when it hits the salvage lot

2. Get Your Paperwork Together

There are 3 important pieces of paperwork you need to address when scrapping a car or truck. You must cancel your insurance, cancel your registration, and find your vehicles title. You can sell a vehicle with no title, but it’s a hassle.

Cancel Your Insurance

Canceling your insurance is important because if something happens after it’s hauled away, might create liability issues. Even if you signed the title over, there is room for debate about who is responsible since insurance stays with the vehicle no matter who is driving it. In some states you must turn in the plates first before you can cancel your insurance.

Cancel Your Registration

Cancelling your registration is important, because some places will charge you an administrative fee for doing it on your behalf. At one of my local scrap yards, they will look up the vin, cancel the reg, and send you a bill. If you don;t pay it they report you to a credit agency. In some states you must turn in the plates first before you can cancel your registration.

Find Your Title

In order to transfer vehicle ownership you will need to have a valid title. Finding it before the wrecker comes is important. Some yards will be vehicle with no titles, but it is a real headache. If you don’t have the title, but want to know how to get a replacement for a lost title, try this.


If the salvage yard or junk car buyer doesn’t car about the title, its a problem. From a liability perspective you still technically have ownership even after the car is out of your possession. Some states do have rules for vehicles past a certain age that disregards the need for a title. In these cases a valid picture ID will be required to be copied to validate the sale. That’s so the state can find you if someone tries and makes an ownership claim. If you aren’t sure about your state you can check with your local DMV about the legalities of selling a junked car to an auto salvage.

BMW Junker

Old BMW clunker

3. Know the Value of Your Clunker

I’ve come across a few car buying scrap yards in my days, that love to say your unwanted vehicle is worthless. They will be happy to take it off your hands for nothing. This is just a strong arm negotiating tactic. Remember to them the vehicle has value, they are gonna sell it off for parts, and for scrap metal after that.


I find it’s important to properly assess your vehicle. Whats it worth in current condition vs worth with repairs? Whats it worth in scrap metal? If you have an old beat up clunker that is rusted and doesn’t run, sure it may not fetch much, but it should get something. Is your vehicle newer or are you scrapping a vehicle with some valuable components still attached. For many situations I find at least peaking at the Kelly Blue Book is a good starting point to frame my estimate. You will never get the KBB value, but it’s good to know it.


Clunkers in really bad shape are hard to assess. You can call a mechanic and ask their opinion or call a salvage yard and ask for the scrap metal price of your vehicle.

4. Remove Valuable Components to Sell

If you have already negotiated a selling price for your junker, then you shouldn’t remove anything. You need to turn over the vehicle in the same condition you described it in, when you negotiated. On the other hand if you are only getting the scrap metal price for the car or truck, it might be time to pull a few pieces off to sell on your own.


You can pull the battery and recharge it for personal use or if its newer resell it. Even if its old, some recycling centers nearby will pay for the lead inside an older battery. Consider swapping out the tires if they have decent tread wear left for a pair of balding tires from a used tire junkyard. Other good things to remove are tech components like  stereos and GPS systems. Then consider valuable used auto parts like the alternator that you can resell online just like an auto parts salvage would.

5. Remove Your License Plates

More important then turning them in, is removing them from the vehicle. Usually once you negotiate a price and things tend to happen fast. You may not have an opportunity to remove the plates before its on the hook of the wrecker. The tow truck driver is not gonna sit and wait for you to unscrew the plates. If your vehicle is inoperable at a service station, you will want to get down there before the tow truck arrives to get the plates off.


The regulations vary by state regarding license plates, but in some states you must return them to the DMV in order to cancel your registration. Your insurance agency may have a clause in your policy as well that doesn’t allow you to cancel unless you have turned in your plates.

6. Use or Siphon the Gas

If you are fortunate enough that your junker is still drive-able you can run the gas out of it. If it’s not operable you can siphon it for reuse. Some trucks have large gas tanks and the amount of gas you paid for may be significant compared to the value of the vehicle. The salvage yard is going to drain the gas and related fluids anyway…you might as well put it to use since you paid for it.


Using or siphoning certainly isn’t a requirement, but it helps keep the value in your pocket instead of theirs.

7. Wipe All Personal Identifiable Information (PII) From the Vehicle

If you have a newer vehicle with a GPS or have OBD recorder, you need to wipe or remove them. These devices can potentially hold data that can be used for identity theft. OBD data can be used in insurance fraud and GPS data can give away your work, home, and frequently visited addresses. Someone could actually even figure out the times you are not at your home based on your routing system. When you leave these in your vehicle, you have no idea how many times ownership may change hands. Plus the amount of people it could be exposed to in the salvage yard is dangerous.


While GPS and OBD recorders are the more obvious devices, also consider hidden USB drives. Some newer vehicles have USB drives in the glove box and perhaps some time ago you plugged a personal USB device in it and forgot about it. For more details check out what data to wipe from your vehicle before you sell it.

8. Call Around to Get Your Best Offer

The car is prepped now its time to find your best offer on the vehicle. I would advise calling around to various auto salvages to find your best price. You can also try specialized salvos. For example if you have a Toyota, there are Toyota junkyards that specialize in only Toyota.

Consider Online Junk Car Buyers

Don’t forget that local auto salvages aren’t your only option. There are plenty of online junk car buyers who will pay you cash for your vehicle. It works the same as selling locally. Most of these places will have a toll free number to call, give you an instant quote, and then figure out a pick up at your home or office.


If you are going this route, make sure you read reviews and testimonials about the company you are selling to. You want a hassle free experience, you don;t want the DMV calling you a month later, and you want your money up front and fast. Click here to find who buys junk cars near you.

Negotiate in Good Faith

Its important that you negotiate in good faith. You may be asked to provide certain details about the vehicle and provide photos via email. Be ready to answer questions about the condition, the extent of damage, and whether or not in runs. At the junkyards near me that buy cars they try and assess the value before shooting you an offer regardless of make, model, and mileage. Be honest and forth right about the condition and damage,

Scrap Metal Prices Are Low

Junk car prices are not what they use to be and have dropped significantly in the last two years. This is due to the scrap metal market being over saturated…supply is high so demand is low. Most salvage yards are going to start by offering you the scrap metal price for your vehicle. Often, the larger the car or truck, the more its worth in metal. If your car is undriveable it’s likely you wont get much more then it’s weight in reusable metal.

How to Get The Highest Offer on Your Junked Vehicle

In the case that you just took it off the road, mention that it hasn’t been idle very long. Cars or trucks that have been idle have parts that are worth less because rust and corrosion set in. If your vehicle has other value that you are turning over, like a high end stereo, or valuable parts that are still good, mention it. Also don’t wait to junk your vehicle, the longer it sits, the less it s worth. That’s because the most valuable parts are often the ones that degrade the fastest when not used.


Regardless of the condition of the clunker, you will get varying offers from different scrap yards. The offers will likely be in the same ballpark, but call around to maximize your offers. Remember that junk car buyers are well practiced negotiators looking to get your vehicle for nothing, be ready to negotiate. Know that you will never get the KBB value from the vehicle, but if your vehicle is operable you may get a larger percentage of it. For more tips on getting the most money when you junk a car for cash, click here.

Who Pays for Transport

Last consider how the towing is worked out…who is paying for it? That may or may not need to be worked into your arrangement. If they offer free towing you will probably get a lower offer. If you can get your unwanted car or truck to them, you may see a bump in your sales price. More on that at step 10.

9. Consider Other Options for Junking Your Vehicle

As mentioned in the previous section scrap prices for junked cars are at an all time low. Once you have a few cash offers for your car or truck, you should at least think about the alternatives.

Donating Your Vehicle to Charity

One option is donating your unwanted vehicle to charity. This will get the junker off your hands and provide a value to them. In some cases you can get a tax deduction. One of my favorite junk car charities is Kars for Kids. If you donate it, the charity will handle sell it and use the proceeds for their funding. Its possible your tax deduction might be higher then your salvage yard scrap metal weight offers.

Sell it Privately

Depending on the condition of your vehicle you can also consider Craigslist, Ebay, or a used car dealer. It may be at least wort a call if the car is in operating condition. The only downside here is this is time consuming and requires more effort.

10. Seal The Deal and Arrange Vehicle Transportation if Necessary

Make a decision on who gets the vehicle that benefits you the most. Try not to waiver to long on deciding…the longer your vehicle sits the less value it has in parts.


Last you need to arrange or negotiate the terms of the exchange. How will the car get to the salvage yard or wherever you have agreed to? Is it driveable, can you drop it off? Do they need to come and tow it? The junkyard will probably offer to tow the car for free, but the truth is they will reduce it from your sales offer. You can also check out some common shady practices that junkyards do when negotiating. As i mentioned earlier, you may get a better offer if you can get the vehicle to them.


An option aside from towing is price out renting a trailer for a few hours and tow it to the, You may end up netting a few extra dollars in your pocket versus the cost of a tow.


If your vehicle is not in your possession and its a service station, you may need to coordinate with all parties the details of the pickup. Call the towing company, the service station, and the salvage yard to get everyone on the same page. The last thing you want is the wrecker to show up and the service station is closed. They will charge you for the tow.

How to Junk a Car – Conclusion

Following a step by step process for how to junk a car makes it so much easier to digest. I have junked a few clunkers in my day including a newer vehicle that was in a wreck. Understanding vehicle scrap metal prices and what kind of value a junkyard is looking for will help you get the most value. If you follow the guide above, sell of some valuable components on your own, and have reasonable expectations around a selling price you will have success. That’s what I have learned for how to junk a car or truck, hope you find my experience helpful. If you are curious what parts of a car get recycled after you junk it, click here.