Skip to content

Instant VIN Lookup

The following is for informational purposes only

What is a Junk Car?

Junk Cars

Most of us have heard the terms clunker or junk cars before. But did you know there is a whole world of business behind these seemingly worthless automobiles?

What are Junk Cars?

A junk car is a car that has zero value. Perhaps it no longer runs and looks like a mess, but it does not serve anyone a purpose. Basically, it is a car that has reached the end of its useful life. State governments have a list of criteria that label a junk car unworthy of being on the road. When your vehicle reaches that point, it time to put it out to pasture.

What are Junk Cars?

In many areas of the country and even specific parts of the state, you cannot leave a junk car in your yard. It’s essential to know the specifics of junk car laws in your town.

Some of the things that qualify for the definition of a junk car are:

  • Condition - The vehicle must be severely damaged and unroadworthy.
  • Age - In most states, the car must be at least three years old.
  • Low or No Value - The car or truck must be worth less than $500.
  • Un-drivable - The car may not be operational.
  • Documentation - The vehicle has no documentation like a registration or license plates.

Junk cars are those that have been destroyed by time, a collision, or negligence. They aren’t necessarily worthless, but they aren’t worth much. Sometimes they can be sold for scrap metal or parts.

Salvage vs. Junk Cars

Salvage vs. Junk Cars

There is a big difference between salvage and junk cars. Both could suffer severe accidents causing significant damage. The difference though, is that a salvage car or (salvage branded title) may be restored back to its previous condition and made roadworthy.

Keep in mind if you do decide to put some money into restoring a salvage vehicle, the branded title will still follow it for life.

A junk or scrap car is only valuable for parts and scrap metal. In most cases, these vehicles end up in junkyards. Even cars that were subject to fire, flood, vandalism, or major collisions are good for parts. Not everything will be useless on a scrap/junk car. That is why they retain some value.

How Can I Get Cash for Junk Cars?

Depending on whether your car is a junk car or a salvage vehicle, you can get money by selling either. Salvage vehicles may yield you more because they can essentially be restored to working order and sold. Junk cars are only worth a few hundred dollars — basically for the scrap metal. If you find just the right junkyard or buyer, some junk cars may be worth more if they have a lot of workable parts. A vehicle can be scraped clean of every usable part, and those parts put to good use restoring other vehicles.

How to Sell Junk Cars

How to Sell Junk Cars

It’s actually quite easy to sell junk cars. First, you will want to do some research online and find the closest salvage yards. Be sure to use a licensed salvage dealer. Check to be sure they are licensed and insured. You don’t want to sell your junk car to just anyone. Check reviews and talk to other people who have sold junk cars to them.

When you get ready to sell the junk car, gather together all your paperwork (original manuals, license plates, registration, title). Also, write down the manufacturer, make, model, condition, and mileage, so you have everything in one place. Take photos of the car to bring with you.

Visit the dealership and get a quote on your junk car. Even if the car won’t run, there is still some value, and you could sell it for a few hundred bucks. Some junkyards purchase junk cars by weight. The heavier the vehicle, the more you might get.

If you are happy with the quote, set up a pick-up time. Most salvage dealers will pick up the junk car for free if it has value to them. You can complete the sale before or after they tow it away. Some places pay cash for junk vehicles, and others will issue you a check.

If your state warrants it, you must contact the DMV and notify them that the car was sold for junk.

Where Can I Sell Junk Cars?

There are a few places you can sell your junk car. First, you can contact local salvage dealers or a nearby junkyard to see if they will buy it. You can also place an ad on Craigslist or some other online newspaper to see if anyone wants it for parts.

If you are still wondering where to sell junk cars, sometimes charities will purchase junk cars for a few hundred dollars and then fix them up or sell them for more. Call around your local area to see if anyone wants to purchase your junk car for a little money.

What About Junk Cars without a Title?

What About Junk Cars without a Title?

Some junkyards and salvage companies will not purchase a junk car or truck without a title. However, some places will if you can prove ownership with the registration and your license. You will need to let them know ahead of time that it has no title, so they can do a Vin check and find out what the make, model, year, and other specifications are on the vehicle.

Before you try to sell your junk car without a title, you might want to contact the local DMV and see if you can get a replacement title. They may have a process where you pay a small fee and you can obtain one. You may get more cash for your junk car with a title than without.

Check state laws. In some towns or cities, you cannot sell a junk car without a title; for example, Chico California is one of those places where it is forbidden. Florida has very confusing junk car laws, so you may need to consult an expert before selling your junk car in Florida if it doesn’t have a title.

Instant VIN Lookup