Cash for Clunkers

Tara Hornor
Written byTara HornorUpdated - December 27, 2023
Tara Hornor
Tara Hornor

Tara Hornor is an experienced writer and entrepreneur with over two decades of experien... | See full bio

John Rush
Edited and Fact-Checked byJohn RushEditor
John Rush
John Rush
Automotive Content Accuracy Auditor|||

With over four decades of experience, John Rush is a highly accomplished business owner... | See full bio

A Comprehensive Guide to Get Rid of a Junk Car

Junk cars are vehicles sold or abandoned in a junkyard by their previous owners. Some are wrecked beyond repair, while others would cost more to maintain because of persistent mechanical problems. Most junk car buyers are honest and trustworthy although as a seller, you still need to consider taking extra precautions to protect your interests when selling your junk car to a salvage yard or a junk car buyer. Cash for Clunkers takes pride in our process to simplify selling your junk car. We have put together this comprehensive guide to support you through this process.

You might be wondering what steps to take to get rid of that old abandoned or unreliable vehicle in your garage. Today, we will be sharing 15 tips on junking your car or more simply how to sell your junk car to junkyards with ease. You can get your personal space back today and earn cash while doing that with the following steps.

1.    Don’t Leave Personal Belongings Behind

A current survey of over a thousand drivers showed that a-third of them only clean the inside of their vehicles once every year. As much as 12 percent have never cleaned the inside of their vehicles. Most drivers across the world fall under these statistics. It doesn’t only occur with commercial drivers, private car owners are also guilty of it. Some will tell you they have never vacuumed the seats, scrubbed the floor, or cleaned the glove box.

Having an unwanted car in the garage or on the lawn can be an eye saw. Besides, it takes up a lot of useful space. Therefore, it is best to get rid of them. When preparing your vehicle for disposal, you don’t even need to put in extra work to make them attractive. Mechanics know exactly what to do with your junk. All you should do is search through the inside of your vehicle and remove all your valuables. Search the pigeon holes, under the car seat and the pockets behind the car seat.

Apart from the trunk, make sure you search other compartments thoroughly as well. Raise seats and look under them and also dip your hands into all existing pockets to make sure that there is nothing valuable you are leaving behind.

2.    Detach All Valuable Parts

The key purpose why people junk their cars is because they want to make money from them. If you chose not to sell your vehicle as is to someone like Cash for Clunkers a Junkyard just wants the scrap. Before handing over your car to a junkyard where it will be scrapped and turned into a mass of metal, carefully identify the parts that are of value and remove them either by yourself or with the help of a mechanic.

Some auto-parts will rake-in more cash when sold individually. They include:

  • Wheels
  • Batteries
  • alternators
  • Starter Motors
  • Stereo/Radio Systems
  • Alternators

Junk car buyers can assist you through this step if you partner with them. Don’t lose cool money out of ignorance. Without knowing that selling the above-mentioned parts separately would earn you more money, certain buyers will buy the complete car at a bargain from you and lose those parts before crashing the car.

3.    Have Your Complete Paperwork 

Educate yourself on restrictions and local laws before selling junk cars. Sometimes, legal paperwork is required for scraping to be possible and in other cases, showing legal paperwork isn’t necessarily important. Although certain times the car may be under-priced if you don’t show its paperwork.

It is always advised to have all your paperwork in place because it makes things easier for both parties. It will help in an easy transfer of ownership to the junk car buyer doing business with you. This dissociates you from all responsibilities and associated duties concerning the vehicle. Unfortunately, if something like a car theft occurs, you wouldn’t have to take part in its investigations.

If you misplaced your title, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can help you out if you request a copy at their local office.  The DMV office remains your best option for getting first-hand information concerning your state’s requirements for junk cars.

If a car is over a certain age, some junk car buyers wouldn’t require you to show a title or any other valid form of ownership. In a city like Vermont, you wouldn’t need a title to remove and junk any car that is over fifteen years old.

4.    Remove All License Plates


You might be asking why it is important to remove license plates from a vehicle before sending them to a junkyard, the answer to your question is that tags and titles go hand-in-hand. Your local DMV may request your license plates when demanding a title cancellation. It will be wise of you to call and inquire for specifics before visiting. Before an official transfer of ownership, most buyers will ask you to remove the license plates.

Your old license plates can be turned into works of art and craft and be put into other uses instead of lying around in a box in the basement without a purpose. 

5.    Cancel Your Vehicle Insurance Policy

In the euphoria of trying to get rid of an old vehicle, people often forget to make an important call to their insurance agent. It is very important to let your agent know about new developments concerning the vehicle. Update him on any changes that have occurred since your last check-in and tell him why you would no longer need coverage on that particular car. It’s good to avoid being stuck in the trap of paying recurring policy payments before the expiration of the policy.

It is common to pre-pay for a set number of months on your recent policy, if you are caught up in the situation where you might have paid for a year, you will be refunded your outstanding balance.

Even if you plan to junk your vehicle when your policy expires, it is still wise to call your agent and get him informed. It is a smart business move that may earn you deals and promotions in long run.

6.    Do A Personal Research to get the most Cash for your Car

The first offer you see mustn’t be the best offer available. It is very good to make inquiries, research for similar options then select the best out of all available offers. Even if your car is below standard, you will find a bunch of offers out there with different price ranges.

Don’t settle until you find a buyer that will offer you the best deal. Keep reminding yourself that once the car is sold, there will be no way possible of getting it back without paying more than you have been paid for it initially. Find a deal that wouldn’t make you have regrets.

The two important questions that will help you find the best offer are:

  • How much damage has this car incurred?
  • What is the rough estimate of the current value of this car?

The second question is for you to understand the present value of your car, which will help you identify a bad offer from a decent one. Before striking a deal with a buyer, make sure to enquire about towing capacity. It is preferable to find a team that can tow the vehicle from your place of residence to the junkyard without putting the responsibility on you.

Request if they charge a towing fee and if their answer is “Yes”, ask them what you stand to profit from the sales if you handle the towing aspect yourself. It is often more convenient to get a dealer that will offer you free towing but if you stand to gain more from the sales by towing the car yourself then it is advisable to do what favors you most.

7.    Check All Available Licenses

In many states, junk car dealers are made to undergo proper licensing before they can be allowed to operate. It is advisable to spend time checking a dealer’s accreditation before engaging them in business.

When interacting with them, request an active license. When you find a dealer online, check if your state allows online services that would enable you to verify a dealer’s number and license by clicking a few buttons. It is very important to find a genuine dealer when hunting for dealers. Finding a reliable dealer will protect you from potential liabilities that might come up if the deal turns sour.

For example, if you encounter a fraudulent dealer who pays you 50 percent of your money while promising to pay the rest without officially signing an agreement. You will find it hard to find a lawyer that will defend your case if he refuses to pay the other half of the money.

You are in safe hands when you work with a licensed junk car buyer. He can handle all records and required paperwork with ease and efficiency. Working with a fraudulent dealer even after being fully aware that he/she isn’t licensed could get you into serious trouble and even imprisonment.

8.    Make Enquiries About Non-Metal Parts

There are many components in your vehicle that aren’t metal. For example the windshield, the cushioned seats, cup holders, etc. Some junkyards prefer vehicles that have been completely stripped to the metal skeleton while others don’t mind if they are stripped or not. When conducting your research, don’t forget to ask about dealer’s preferences, whether they like to receive cars completely stripped of their accessories or if they prefer it intact.

If they desire only a metal shell, make sure to remove all other components before scrapping. You have to be extra cautious when conducting this act because the car has gas built into its structure, which can be volatile. It requires professional hands to remove it. Rapidly removing components and tossing them by a corner might seem efficient but also very dangerous.

It is prudent to hire a mechanic to help you do the doffing, even though it would require you to spend extra cash. You will be guaranteed a perfect job.

9.    Understanding The Weight Scale

You might be asking how some junk car buyer estimates what to pay you for a vehicle. They use a weight scale to measure the vehicle and have a fixed price for every ton. This means that if a dealer offers you 500 dollars per ton for a 4,000-pound vehicle (two tons), you will be paid a thousand dollars for the vehicle. The sad part of this whole endeavor is that very old broken down and rusted SUVs weigh more than the shiny new hybrid carstherefore they fetch more money when junked.

It may surprise you that all dealers don’t use the same scale although the calculation process should be transparent and straightforward. When doing your research just make sure you check all the different scales available out there and go with what suits your desire.

Be very observant of the scale, if it looks faulty or tampered with, simply avoid the dealer and look for another. Once the scale doesn’t give an accurate reading, your earning will be adversely affected. To avoid being cheated in this business, make sure you only work with dealers who have a good reputation, experience, and a certified and acceptable weight scale.

10.    Ask Questions to get top Cash for your Car

In as much as you are in a hurry to clear your yard from the eyesore of an old rusted vehicle, there are many important things you must first enquire from junk car buyers. Find out if their towing truck service is free or paid. If paid find out the price and compare it with that of other companies.

It is best to avoid companies that charge you for towing services because originally it should be free. Also, make efforts to find out if the company is properly licensed and do well to check their reputation over these past years they have been in operation. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand, avoid taking decisions blindly or out of sentiments.

11.    Get A Quote For Your Junk Car – top tip on junking a car

When in touch with a junk car buyer, make sure to request a quote on the vehicle you are about to sell. They will ask you questions concerning the current state of the vehicle as well as the age, model, and make of the car in question, make sure you are familiar with the answers to these questions before approaching a buyer.

The goal of every buyer should be to make the course of getting a quote for your vehicle as fast and hassle-free as imaginable. Junk car removal service could be very effective when the need arises to get rid of your unwanted cars.

12.    Find A Honest Dealer

Many of the salvage cars you see online are from small, autonomous junkyards. Some junk car buyers will bid down prices with a potential seller rite until they sell it for less than nothing. After buying these cars at a lowball price, they will spend little money in fixing them and then sell them as salvage cars double the price they bought them. Salvage cars don’t have warranties and can only be purchased with cash.

Try to always seek out legit junk car removal services because they are a lot of fraudulent and nefarious businesses out there. Find buyers who are friendly and honest with clients, those who make agreements and follow through even if it causes them some level of stress.

13.    First Show Them Pictures Of The Vehicle

To avoid stressing yourself with bringing different buyers to your place of residence to assess the value of the vehicle, it is easier to send them pictures of the actual vehicle. Take multiple pictures of the car from different angles and don’t forget to take pictures of the inside as-well.

Using just pictures, some buyers can estimate the actual cost of the vehicle even without seeing it first-hand. Make sure the pictures are of high quality because the clearer the pictures are, the easier it will be for both parties to transact the business successfully, a good digital camera is recommended.

14.    Seek Advice From An Experienced Mechanic

Before approaching a junk car buyer for the business, it will be wise of you to involve the services of an experienced mechanic who will help you evaluate and estimate the cost of the vehicle repairs and maybe give you other useful information that will aid you in your effort to sell your old car to make some cool dollars.

The information you get from a mechanic will help you gain confidence and negotiate wisely with a buyer. You can’t be easily swayed or deceived and by the end of the business, you will have reason to celebrate instead of feeling cheated and used.

15.    Contact Multiple Junkyards

The better the offer you will find grossly depend on how many yards you get in touch with. Compensation paid for used cars isn’t the same for all junkyards, some pay lower than others. It is not wise to hand over your used vehicle to the first junk car dealer you come across, it is a very bad business approach.

Also, avoid being the one to pay for the towing truck that will pick the car from your garage to the junkyard. Endeavor to negotiate towing charges with the person in charge of the yard to avoid any problems that may arise in the future.

During The Final Transaction

Once needed information has been exchanged with the buyer/buyers, you will receive an offer. Most times the business is done on the phone and other times on the internet. After reaching an agreement, the buyer books an appointment then sends over a towing truck to convey the car to the junkyard. You will get paid the amount you both settled upon when you sign the car’s title. Payment can be made online, by physical cash, or by check.

Selling cars especially old ones is not as difficult as people paint it to be. From market statistics, old cars are in high demand, therefore, making it a viable and lucrative market. Once they buy your vehicle, they will send it over to a mechanic for it to be properly checked. Parts that are still useful are removed and sold separately as used parts. Batteries and tires are sent to recycling plants for a little cost. By applying the above-mentioned tips, you are on your way to making quick dollars and creating space in your home.

How To Junk A Car And Earn Top Dollar

A run-down vehicle that only costs you money and takes up space shouldn’t be kept, it should be sold because it is not worth keeping. Since you clearly understand how to junk a vehicle now, why don’t you call a buyer today, sell that car and save yourself unnecessary expenses?

Some people feel reluctant to sell their old vehicles because they have owned them for a long time and it has become very familiar to them like a family pet, some people even go as far as calling their vehicles names different from that of the manufacturer. A bonding like that can be remarkable but comes with many drawbacks, which include:

  • Unnecessary expenses due to regular repairs
  • Possible risk of an accident due to old worn out parts
  • The risk to other road users
  • Difficulty in finding new spare parts
  • Running into problems with local authorities

The best option at the end of the day would be to sell it.

If you intend to sell your junk car at the best price possible then it is advised of you to take your time and avoid being in a rush. You need to make plans and execute them sequentially and responsibly. Rushing to sell your car without following instructions could lead to making bad decisions that may land you in jail, leave you in a whole lot of debt, or distressed and worried for a long period.

Making Plans

Whether your car is an SUV or truck, if you find it in such a condition that selling it to Cash for Clunkers is the smartest choice to make, then avoid using a dealership. Once the situation at hand is obvious, you are to sit down and start making plans. First, you create a checklist that will guide you through the process of making a tolerable and successful sale void of unsuspecting drawbacks.

Below is a possible checklist that can help you make the best decision.

  1. Collect useful information concerning your vehicle
  2. Read about the processes required to successfully sell your car to a scrap car buyer
  3. Be honest and realistic about the price you intend to sell your vehicle
  4. Identify businesses around you that buy old vehicles
  5. Be cautious of scheming people
  6. Remove valuable components you can sell separately
  7. Remove both license plates from the vehicle

Collecting Useful Information Concerning Your Vehicle

Certain information about your car may be requested by the dealer who wants to buy your cars: The information may include:

  • Title of the car
  • Model, year, and make of the car
  • The original Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • The mechanics of the car, the present interior and exterior condition of the car
  • The most recent odometer reading
  • Clear photos of the car’s engine compartment together with its interior and exterior
  • Worth of the car

To get a rough hint on how much your car is worth, I will imply you to check Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book. These books hold information concerning trade-in values. Take your time to research the value of your year, design a model in its vilest condition.

Should-in-case you misplaced your title, you can obtain a duplicate by visiting the official website of your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and doing the needful.

Read About The Processes Required To Successfully Sell Your Car To A Scrap Car Buyer

The best place to find information on how to scrap your car is the internet. It is very important to conduct such research because different states have laws regarding who is eligible to sell a junk car to, what condition the junk car must be in while making plans to sell it etc. During your research, try to find answers to the following questions:

  • Can the car be driven?
  • Is any part severely damaged?
  • What parts are in top-notch condition?

Answer those questions honestly and truthfully.

Be Honest And Realistic About The Price You Intend Selling Your Vehicle

In your research to know how to get the most payment for a junk car, you will discover certain realities.

First, the amount of metal present in your car directly affects how much you get paid. Private vehicles contain approximately 2400-pounds of steel and 500-pounds of aluminum.

The metals are very useful because they are melted and used in manufacturing new car parts and other important products. They are distinct markets for copper, aluminum, iron, and steel used in manufacturing car parts and other commercial products. Exotic metals like palladium and platinum that naturally occur in the catalytic converters of vehicles can be reused.

Secondly, cars are made up of other materials that bear value. Old rusted cars can still have parts that can be of use to other vehicles. Auto recycling businesses harvest parts from old vehicles, refurbish and resell them. These auto parts may increase in value due to the performance and popularity of a vehicle.

Identify Businesses Around You That Buy Old Vehicles

Auto recyclers and junkyards are the two major businesses involved in buying junk cars in exchange for cash. You can find them simply by searching online using proper keywords. Make a list of all of them cut them down to the most useful ones and check them out personally, by a phone call, or online if they have an official website.

Sites like Yelp has customer ratings appearing with search results thereby helping you make better choices. Make a list of possible buyers together with the prices they are offering after contacting them, weigh their offers.

There are also important things to consider before finally agreeing to sell, things like state laws and scale verification.

Be Cautious Of Devious People

Most companies involved in buying junk vehicles are known to be reputable. However, there is no business without a few bad apples.

Below are popular scams to look out for.

  • The yard manager tells you towing is included while it is not
  • Bait and switch tricks
  • Delay in payment
  • The yard manager tries to convince you that your car has no value
  • Incorrect calculations
  • They tell you titles aren’t important
  • Unlicensed yard
  • Offering awards and deductions of dubious worth

Remove Valuable Components You Can Sell Separately

Components may be in your junk car that you can sell separately, components such as:

  • Fairly used Tires
  • Alloy wheels
  • Functional Battery
  • Sound System
  • GPS navigation systems

These parts should be salvaged together with anything of monetary value. Replace quality tires with bald ones as well as alloyed wheels with cheap old rims. You shouldn’t put your focus on only metal items when salvaging valuable components. You can also include other items such as:

  • Seats
  • Headlights and taillights
  • Carpeting
  • Dashboard
  • Door panel
  • Windshield and other glasses
  • Headliner
  • Hoses
  • Sound insulation
  • Bumper covers
  • Exterior plastic trim
  • Moto fluids such as oil, coolant, brake fluid, fuel, etc.

Once these items have been properly removed, keep them in a secure and safe location until you are ready to sell them. You can sell them on e-commerce websites like Amazon, eBay, craigslist, or any other popular website.

Remove Both License Plates From The Vehicle

It is required of you to remove the license plates from your car. Many states DMVs will insist you return the plate numbers before the registration to your car can be canceled. In the law of many states, the license plates by law belong to the previous owner of the vehicle.

Enjoy Free Tow Service With a Reputable Junk Dealer

Many reputable junkyard dealers are willing to buy junk cars and offer free car removal services to their clients. Some of these reputable junk car dealers are willing to offer roadside assistance to their clients. They are willing to bear the stress of pick-up and towing while you enjoy a hassle-free transaction. It is, therefore, a smart move to request if a junkyard dealer owns a tow truck before sealing off the deal.





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