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If you’ve had an accident or your car stops working, there’s a good chance you’ve decided to junk your car. Here is what you need to know about junk cars, how much your junk car is worth, its scrap value or fair market value.

What is a Junk Car?

By definition, a junk car is an unwanted car. A car is considered junk when it doesn’t run or has no use to anyone except a junkyard which will scrap the car for steel and/or individual car parts.

Junk cars can be:

  • Salvaged cars
  • Non-running cars
  • Cars with a blown engine
  • Vehicles with significant body damage
  • Rebuilt cars
  • Old cars
  • Vehicles with mechanical damage
  • Totaled cars
  • Flooded cars

What Factors Are Considered to Determine the Worth of a Junk Car?

The five main factors considered to determine the worth of a junk car are make, model, location, condition, and scrap metal prices.

Make and Model

The make and model of your junk car is one determining factor of the total amount your car is worth. Newer model vehicles are designed with fuel efficiency, eco-friendliness, appearance, and other factors. Newer model cars are made of various plastics, making them lighter than older model vehicles. Older model vehicles are heavier and sturdier because they are made of mostly metal. While metal is an essential price factor, some older model cars are less valuable than new vehicle parts because they don’t have the same demand. There are not as many people driving older cars as there are driving newer cars.


Your location is another determining factor of a junk car’s worth. If you reside in an area where scrap metal is a commodity, the value of your junk car can increase. There may be higher demands for a specific type of junk car in other situations, increasing the car’s overall value.


Although you may consider your car junk, the car’s condition still plays a role in the car’s value. If you have a vehicle that still runs but has severe body damage or several mechanical issues, you can sell it to a salvage yard. If you have an older vehicle that is missing most of its parts, you will get money for it, but not as much as an older vehicle that still possesses most or all of its parts. Some vehicle parts are worth more than others, such as catalytic converters.

The Price of Scrap Metal

The price of scrap metal can change over time. The current rate for scrap metal is one of the essential factors determining what your car is worth. You can wait until the price of scrap metal increases to receive more money for your junk vehicle, but you risk losing money or waiting an undisclosed amount of time for the cost to increase to a satisfactory rate.

Finding Junk Car Buyers

You can find junk car buyers online or visit your local junkyard. Finding a junk car buyer may be easier than finding an interested private buyer. Some junk car buyers will tow the car and pay cash on the spot, while other buyers may have a more extensive process. You should also shop around. Find at least three businesses that offer cash for junk cars and compare their prices and process for appraising junk cars.

Can You Purchase Salvage Cars from an Insurance Company?

Although you can’t purchase cars with a salvage title from an insurance company, you can buy a salvage vehicle online, from a dealership, or at an auction. If you’re interested in purchasing a salvage vehicle, you first need to ask the seller how the car sustained damage. Next, you need to hire an inspector to look at the vehicle before purchasing the vehicle.

What is a Salvage Vehicle?

A vehicle that is totaled by an insurance company and repaired is a salvaged vehicle. These types of vehicles require a unique title. A salvage car can be cars that experience:

  • An act of vandalism
  • Flood damage
  • Theft
  • An accident
  • Storm damage

Once a car is deemed a salvaged vehicle and rebuilt, it must be re-registered as a salvaged vehicle. If an older vehicle sustains damage, even if the damage is not severe, the insurance company may deem it totaled because of its value. Newer model cars can also be considered a total loss when the repairs exceed the vehicle’s actual value.

Use the above tips to help you determine how much your junk or broken car is worth. You may be surprised at how much money you receive for a car in less than perfect condition.