How To Junk A Car In California

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A car is junked for different reasons, such as mechanical failure, accident damage, expensive repair costs, or the car can’t be driven legally.

There are 3 ways to get rid of a junk car in California. You can sell your junk car to a junkyard, sell it to a junk car service online, or sell it to the state of California.

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How To Junk a Car In California

As we stated above, there are 3 ways to get rid of a junk car in California, regardless of its condition, if it is running, or is not operational.

Sell Your Junk Car Online

There are several online services that specialize in buying junk and non-running cars in California. All three companies work with a network of towing companies that pick up your car for free, tow it away and pay you on the spot.

You can contact any one of these companies that buy junk cars online for a free quote to see how much they would pay you for your car. Online services are the easiest way to get rid of a junk car in California.

Companies that buy junk cars online in California:

Sell Your Junk Car To A Junkyard

We have a list of junkyards in California that buy junk cars.

You will need to provide your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). You will also need to provide a few more details about your vehicle, such as whether the vehicle is drivable or not. In a matter of minutes, you’ll have a quote. If you’re satisfied with the quote you’ll receive and payment terms, you can accept the offer and schedule a pickup.

California Junkyard Locations

Here are a few junkyards in California. You can find one that services your area here.

Ginos Santa Cruz Auto Wrecking Recycling Dismantling
3315 Portola Dr
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 475-4113

Monday – Friday (8 AM to 5 PM)
Saturday (9 AM to 1 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

Fifth St. Auto Salvage in Oxnard
501 Pacific Ave
Oxnard, CA 93030
(805) 486-8429

Monday – Friday (8 AM to 5 PM)
Saturday (9 AM to 12:30 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

A-1 Budget Auto Dismantling
42230 4th St E
Lancaster, CA 93535
(661) 478-0481

Monday – Friday (8 AM to 5 PM)
Saturday (8 AM to 3 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

Sell Your Junk Car to The State of California

California has a Voluntary Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program (VAVR). This program is California’s car scrap/recycling program. This program is designed to keep junk vehicles off the highways by providing cash incentives to vehicle owners in order to purchase newer vehicles that are fuel-efficient. Click here to learn more about California’s VAVR program.

The Bureau of Automotive Repair’s Consumer Assistance Program offers a vehicle retirement option to California vehicle owners. This option is available to California residents who wish to sell their vehicle to the state of California. The Vehicle Buy-Back Program in California buys used vehicles from CA motorists. This exclusive program offers a flat $1,500 to income-eligible applicants, and $1,000 to applicants who are not eligible.

CA Vehicle Buy Back Requirements

There are specific requirements Californians must meet in order to qualify for the CA vehicle buy-back program.

Smog Check Required

You can have a smog check performed on your vehicle at any time, which means you don’t have to wait until your vehicle’s registration renewal period to get a smog check. You need to visit a California smog check station and ask for a smog check that will be used to apply for the CA vehicle retirement program.

Checking the Emissions System

Your vehicle can’t have a tampered emission system(s) and the vehicle’s smog check failure can’t be due solely to an ignition timing adjustment, or gas cap functional test. If the check engine light or malfunction indicator lamp is illuminated, this is considered a smog check failure. Your vehicle will qualify for the buy-back program if its check engine light is on.

Vehicle Must Be Running

In order to qualify for California’s vehicle buy-back program, your vehicle must be in running condition, and able to be driven to an approved vehicle dismantler.

Registration Not Lapsed

Your vehicle’s registration can’t have lapsed for more than 120 days in the last two-year period prior to the date of the CAP application.

Vehicle Titled In Your Name

The vehicle’s title must be in your name, meaning the vehicle must be registered to you, and can’t be undergoing initial registration in California.

Be advised, that all vehicles won’t qualify for the California vehicle retirement program. The goal of the vehicle buy-back program is to encourage the removal of older vehicles from California in order to replace them with newer, less polluting transportation, in the form of cleaner emission vehicles, electric cars, mass transit, and bike lanes.

First, you need to mail in a CAP application to the Bureau of Automotive Repairs. Once the application is approved, you will be directed to a CAP authorized dismantler to turn in your vehicle and receive payment.

Contact the California State Bureau of Automotive Repairs at (866) 272-9642 to have an application mailed to you, or download a CAP Application here.

The processing time for consumers wanting to sell their car, truck, SUV, or van to the State is 4 – 6 weeks. Download the online California Buy Back Program Vehicle Retirement application in order to apply now, or use the BAR’s new online application system. Participation in CAP programs is limited to the availability of funds.

Related CAP Links

Download Documents

Paperwork You Need to Scrap a Car in California

When you want to scrap a car in California, there’s different paperwork you need to complete or submit. The required paperwork to scrap a car in California is as follows:

The California Certificate of Title (properly endorsed for transfer)

You must provide evidence of ownership of the vehicle by providing the vehicle’s title. You are required to sign the vehicle’s title in two designated areas of the title to endorse it. Keep in mind that the buyer of the vehicle (the junkyard or junk car buying service) will also need to sign the vehicle’s title to properly endorse the vehicle title for the transfer of ownership.

Lien sale documents (properly executed for registration and transfer)

You must submit a Registration Information Request for Lien Sale (INF 1126) and the non-refundable processing fee to the CA DMV to receive a printout of the vehicle’s record using its vehicle identification number (VIN).

Upon receipt of the vehicle’s record information, and at least 31 days, but no more than 41 days prior to the vehicle’s sale date, you need to send a Notice of Pending Lien Sale for Vehicle Valued at $4,000 or Less (REG 668) and a return envelope. The return envelope must be pre-addressed to the department by certified mail with the return receipt requested or by United States Postal Service Certificate of Mailing to:

  • The registered owner
  • The legal owner
  • Any known interested parties

A salvage certificate (properly endorsed for transfer)

You will need to complete and sign an Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (Form REG 488C) as appropriate. Keep in mind that a computer-generated Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle form pre-approved by the CA DMV headquarters may be submitted by a savage pool.

Nonresident vehicle registration and transfer clearance requirement (listed in Chapter 12)

A non-resident vehicle is a vehicle that was last registered in a different state or country. Any vehicle in California or primarily used on California’s roadways and highways must be registered in the state of California, even if the vehicle is registered to a non-resident owner.

When California registration is required, an application for original California registration must be made within 20 days of the date the registration became due to avoid penalties or 30 days from the date of sale on the Report of Sale – Used Vehicle (Form REG 51)

 License plates

Before you junk your vehicle, you must surrender the vehicle’s license plates to your local CA DMV office.

If you don’t have possession of your vehicle’s registration, you will be required to provide a bill of sale. The vehicle’s bill of sale may be able to be used in lieu of vehicle title signatures.

Do You Need a Vehicle Title to Junk a Car in California?

Requiring a vehicle title to junk a car in California depends on the junkyard. Some California junkyards require a vehicle title while other junkyards don’t. Some CA junkyards only need proof of ownership of the vehicle. Check with the junkyard to intend to use for their specific junking requirements.

Can I Scrap a Car Without a Vehicle Title?

You may be able to scrap a car without a vehicle title in California, but be prepared to get paid less than expected because the junkyard must pay the fee to transfer ownership of the vehicle.

How Old Does a Car Have to be to Not Require a Vehicle Title in CA?

All vehicles in CA must have a vehicle title. However, there are certain types of vehicles that do not require a vehicle title. These vehicles are:

  • Disaster relief vehicles
  • Firefighting equipment (fire trucks, fire engines, etc.)
  • Golf carts
  • Forklift trucks
  • Hauled vehicles
  • Miniature motorcycles

Can You Junk a Car with an Expired Registration In California?

Yes, you can junk a car with an expired registration in California. However, you can’t have an unregistered vehicle in a public place, whether the vehicle is considered junk or not. Keep in mind, that vehicles that are unregistered shouldn’t be confused with vehicles that are untitled.

Can I Scrap My Car Without a Registration Document?

If you need a vehicle registration to get rid of your junk car, here’s what you need to do. You will have to find a junkyard that junks vehicles for free or at a low cost to recycle them or turn them into something that can be useful, such as steel or bricks.

Can I Scrap a Car That Is Not Registered In My Name?

No. You will be required to provide some type of proof of ownership before you can give your vehicle to a junkyard to be scrapped. Keep in mind, that you can’t use a bill of sale or proof of insurance as proof of ownership. Cash and bribery will not work either.

Proof of vehicle ownership is required by junkyards because they must notify the state of California whenever they destroy a vehicle. Junkyards are responsible for reporting the source of the vehicle and any information that is available regarding the person who brought them the vehicle.

What is a Junk Title In California?

A junk car title in California is a title that doesn’t allow the car to be registered for road use again. In this situation, the vehicle may have extensive frame damage or involved in a flood. This type of vehicle title doesn’t have any value, except for when the vehicle is scrapped at a junkyard. A car that has a junk title in California can’t be sold for use.

How Do I Get a Junk Vehicle Title in California?

In order to receive a junk vehicle title in California, you need to take a few steps. These steps include:

  • Provide the vehicle’s VIN
  • Your address for the junk vehicle title (if applicable)
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Photo of your vehicle (optional in some California cities)
  • Photo of the vehicle’s VIN
  • Certificate of Destruction

Be advised, that you may be asked to provide more or fewer documents depending on the city in California you reside.

Can You Sell a Car With a Salvage Vehicle Title In California?

It’s not illegal to sell a car with a salvage vehicle title in California, but you’ll need to prep the vehicle for sale. If your vehicle has been reported to the CA DMV as a salvage vehicle, you can choose to restore it or obtain a revived salvage vehicle title. This is an great option for mechanics who want to rebuild a vehicle.

What You Should Do With Your California License Plate

Once you decide you are going to junk your vehicle, you need to remove the license plates and surrender them to your local CA DMV office.

FAQs for Getting Rid Of Your Junk Car In California

Do I Need To Notify The CA DMV If I Junk My Car?

Yes. You need to provide a Damage Disclosure Statement, which is located on the back of the vehicle’s title.

Do You Need To Notify The DMV If Your Car Is Totaled In California?

Yes. If your vehicle is totaled, you need to file a salvage certificate with the CA DMV if you intend on keeping the vehicle or accepting a settlement by submitting an Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (Form REG 488C).

What Happens If You Abandon A Car In California?

If you abandon a vehicle on a California city street, the vehicle will be towed. If they can’t get in touch with you, the vehicle will be sold at auction, given the vehicle can be fixed. If you can be located, you will be required to pay multiple fees and possible penalties.

How Much Does It Cost to Junk a Car In California?

Usually, there is no cost to junk your car in California. However, you might have a fee to pay if the junkyard tows your vehicle to their lot. The cost of junking your vehicle in California depends on the methods you use to junk your car.

Scrap Metal Prices in California

It is good to know what prices per pound a scrapyard or scrap metal recycling company in California is paying before you visit one to sell your car. Below is the standard scrap metal in California.

  • Copper (clean) – $4.12 – $5.07
  • Aluminum – $0.19 – $1.01
  • Cans – $0.06 – $0.10
  • Clean Brass – $2.47 – $3.30
  • Lead – $0.57 – $0.91
  • Stainless Steel – $0.82 – $1.24
  • Steel Radiators – $1.24 – $2.88

Now that you know the ins and outs of junking your car in California, you can successfully junk your vehicle with confidence. Happy junking!