Can I Scrap My Car Without Keys?: A Step-by-Step Guide is an independent publisher. You will find affiliate links which means we may earn a commission if you purchase through these links. It doesn't cost you anything & it helps us keep the site running.

Some questions never cross your mind until you find yourself in that particular situation, such as being able to scrap your car without the keys.

Yes, you can scrap your car even if you don’t have the keys, so long as you can prove that you legally own the car.

Here’s your step-by-step guide for scrapping your car without the keys.

Scrapping a Car Without Keys: Is It Possible?

You can scrap a car without keys. However, you will be required to prove you are the legal owner of the vehicle. If you don’t have official paperwork that proves you’re the owner, such as the car’s title or registration card, the scrapyard may still accept your vehicle, but you will be required to use a deferred payment method in the event ownership issues occur.

You may also have to pay for a Hire Purchase Investigation (HPI) check. This investigation checks for outstanding debts on the vehicle and can also be used to determine your ownership of the vehicle.

Proof of Ownership Requirements

You must provide proof of ownership to scrap your vehicle, regardless of the state you reside in. You may be required to provide some or all of the following documents to scrap your vehicle:

  • Proof of identification (ID, passport, or driver’s license)
  • Vehicle’s logbook (V5C)
  • Service history
  • Proof of address
  • A clean title (a vehicle title with no liens or encumbrances)
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – you may need to provide paperwork proving its assignment on the vehicle.
  • Original bill of sale (can be used if you lost the registration document)
  • A Pre-prepared letter (required if you lost your registration document)

Potential Challenges

The biggest challenge won’t be scrapping your car without the keys if you don’t have the proper paperwork to show you are the legal owner of the vehicle. Without the car’s title, you won’t be able to do much, so if you’ve lost this document, you’ll need to head to your local DMV or the equivalent authorities to apply for a duplicate car title.

Other issues you could encounter include steering lock, engaging neutral, and brake engagement. With steering lock, when the keys are removed, the steering wheel locks, which makes it more difficult to steer the towed vehicle. Vehicles should be in neutral for smooth towing. Without the keys, shifting the vehicle into neutral can be challenging, especially with vehicles that have automatic transmissions. When it comes to brake engagement, a lot of modern cars have electronic parking brakes, and a key is required for disengagement. Towing a vehicle without disengaging the brakes can damage the car.

How Losing Keys Affects Scrap Car Value

Although losing the keys to your scrap car won’t necessarily stop you from scrapping your car, it can result in a lower scrap value. What does this mean for you? Because you don’t have the keys, the scrap yard will be required to pay to gain access to the car. This money will be deducted from your original quote, resulting in you receiving less money.

Price Reduction Factors

Losing car keys happens to the best of us. However, restricted access to your car means drastic measures will need to be taken to gain access. This could mean breaking the car’s window or further damaging the vehicle to gain access.

If you access your car’s gas tank using a key or a method that requires you to have the key or access to the inside of the car, without the keys, the scrapyard will have to cut the fuel pipe to siphon the remaining fuel from the gas tank.

As you probably guessed, these instances can decrease the car’s value because the car becomes more damaged due to restricted access.

Tips for Maximizing Value

Although you’re scrapping your car, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. Here are some things you can do to maximize your money from selling your scrap car.

Research Scrap Prices in Your Area

It’s good to research scrap prices in your area so that you can price your vehicle accordingly. The current market value of scrap metal in your area will determine how much your scrap car is worth at that time.

Remove Usable Parts

You can also sell your car’s usable parts to boost the funds you receive from selling your car. Car parts that are in good condition can be sold separately from the car, which is known as parting out your car. You could potentially make a pretty penny if the car parts you’re selling are in demand.

Clean Up Your Car

Many car owners don’t consider cleaning their car, especially a scrap car, but it can make a difference. A clean car is more valuable than a dirty car. Remove trash and personal belongings from your car and thoroughly clean the inside and outside.

Gather the Required Documents

Make sure you have the documents that are required to sell your car. Having the correct paperwork makes scrapping your car a lot less of a hassle. Each scrapyard is different, but in general, you will need proof of ownership documentation, such as the car’s title and registration.

Shop Around

Don’t be afraid to take some time to find the best price. You may be surprised at how the prices vary between scrapyards. You can compare quotes online or call different scrapyards to see who has the best offer.

Gaining Access to a Keyless Car for Scrapping

Gaining access to a keyless car is a minor task. However, it can be frustrating. Whether you’re trying to have your keyless vehicle towed or are preparing the car for scrapping, there are different ways you can gain access to your car.

Towing a Keyless Vehicle

The following are some of the ways you can tow a keyless vehicle.

Slim Jim

A slim jim is a thin metal strip you can use to slide between your car’s window and door panel to unlock the door. Using a slim jim is the most effective on older model cars, and isn’t recommended for newer model cars that have sophisticated and upgraded electronic systems.

Air Wedge and Rod

This tool is an inflatable wedge that you can use to create a gap between your car’s door and the frame. After creating the gap, use the rod to press the unlock button inside your car.

Bypassing Steering Lock

If your vehicle has a steering lock, you can use a screwdriver or a similar tool to turn the ignition cylinder. Since bypassing the steering lock can damage the ignition system, it isn’t recommended for regular use.

Preparing Your Car for Scrapping

It’s best that you prepare your for scrapping by doing the following:

  • Find a reputable scrapyard
  • Remove your belongings from the car
  • Make sure you have the required paperwork
  • Cancel your auto insurance policy
  • Remove the license plates
  • Drain fluids from the car
  • Remove the battery
  • Remove valuable parts

After you’ve completed these steps, get a quote from different buyers and compare the prices. Once you do this, you can schedule a pickup and receive your cash.

Choosing the Right Scrapyard for Your Keyless Vehicle

Choosing the right scrapyard can be frustrating, but using the following tips can help. First, you’ll need to find scrapyards that accept keyless vehicles, which will probably be the most time-consuming task in this process.

Compare Offers

When you compare offers, you’ll need to get offers from at least 3 scrapyards and determine which scrapyard has the best offer. Also, when you’re comparing scrapyards, check out any perks or benefits they offer, such as free towing.

Verifying Scrapyard Legitimacy

It’s important to verify any scrapyard you plan on using to avoid scams. You can verify a business using the Better Business Bureau (BBB), or by checking their website and social media pages. However, some of the websites that are used for scams appear professional and legitimate.

If you’re scrapping a car without keys, there are legal considerations you need to keep in mind. Here’s what you need to know.

Avoiding Scams

Scams are more common than you may realize. To minimize your chances of being scammed, you can take the following steps:

  • Keep your information (personal and financial) to yourself by not sharing it with anyone you do not trust.
  • Perform online searches to verify offers, requests, and business information for companies.
  • Consider the payment methods used (scrap yards generally pay with cash or check. Sending money through PayPal, Western Union, or gift cards, could be cause for concern.)
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations with a scrapyard they trust
  • Read all policies, including the terms and conditions, before agreeing to or signing papers
  • Avoid clicking on links, pop-ups, and email attachments from suspicious websites or emails.

Release of Liability

A release of liability can be good to have in this situation. This type of liability is a legal agreement between two people where one person waives the right to hold the other person liable for potential injuries or damages.

Once the releasor signs the waiver of liability, they acknowledge that they understand the risks that are associated with an activity, such as scrapping a car, and will not sue the other person (the releasee) if an injury occurs.

Other Names for a Release of Liability Waiver

A release of liability waiver can be referred to by the following names:

  • Waiver of Liability
  • Hold Harmless Agreement
  • General Waiver
  • Discharge of liability
  • Legal release
  • Exemption from responsibility
  • Liability exemption
  • Legal release
  • Liability waiver form
  • Conditional and Unconditional Waiver form
  • Exculpatory Clause

What Information is Included in a Release of Liability?

The content of the release of liability must be specific to the situation for which it is being used. This liability document can be used as a stand-alone document or as a part of a contract. Every release of liability document needs to contain the following components:

Name and address of both parties

It must be made clear to whom the release applies, which person the releasor is, and who is the releasee. You may also want to include the date for which the agreement is entered near the names of both parties.

Definition of Terms

You will also need a section that defines the words within the contract, so both parties understand the meanings of the legal terms that are used.

Description of Possible Risks

Make sure the releasor knows the risks that are associated with scrapping your car, and that they also understand that by signing the waiver, they are solely responsible for these risks.

Clear Statement of Release

This release liability form should also include a statement that articulates a statement of release that can be similar to the following:

The undersigned assumes all risk of harm or injury resulting from the activities described above and agrees to release, defend, and discharge the release from all liability demands, costs, damages, claims, and causes of action due to injury, loss, damage to the undersigned, or death.


All liability waivers must include a signature block where both parties sign and date the document. Some waivers must also have a notary acknowledgment, a witness signature, or both.

Losing your keys can quickly turn into a frustrating situation. Luckily, you can use the tips and advice provided above to scrap your vehicle without the keys with little to no hassle. Happy scrapping!