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Is there a difference between an auto salvage yard and a junkyard? This is a common question asked by those who own a car that is in bad shape.

Before getting into the details, let’s define each.

What is a Junkyard?

A junkyard is a place where junk is collected and stored. It’s also a place where you can expect to find cars that are considered junk. 

Junkyards mostly deal with cars that only have value in their scrap metal and cannot be repaired or fixed. Cars that will end up in junkyards cannot be salvaged because the cost of salvaging them exceeds the total value of the car. Such cars are usually very old or have been severely damaged.

Junkyards will value your car based on the value of the scrap metal that it can produce. They will also value it based on any usable parts that are still in the car.

What is an Auto Salvage Yard?

An automotive salvage yard is a business that buys wrecked or damaged vehicles from owners with the hope of selling them whole, or as parts for a profit. They only buy cars that are still in good, working condition.

If you want to sell your car to a salvage yard, you can call them and describe your vehicle in detail. You may be required to send pictures of it, though. The auto salvage yard will then give you an offer, which you can accept or negotiate. Once you agree on a price, the salvage yard will come to collect the vehicle. The cost of towing it is usually included in the price.

Salvage yards will usually give the best and highest offers compared to most auto dealerships. This is because they will value every part of the vehicle that is usable when coming up with the car’s value.

Once the valuable parts have been removed, the fluids are drained from the car and the left-over pieces are crushed. The scrap metal produced is sold, while the remaining metal is recycled. The fluids can also be recycled. 

Where to Sell Your Car or Auto Parts

If your car has many usable pats, it is best to take it to a salvage yard where the parts can be taken out and sold separately. If the car is not in bad shape, the salvage yard may also opt to fix the car and sell it to a buyer. In this case, the car will need to have a valid title.

If your car is in very bad shape, you can still make some money from the value of the scrap. It is best to take such a car to a junkyard, where every remaining part can be recycled and reused. The fluids will be drained and recycled, while the metals will be turned into scrap and sold.

Where to Buy a Car or Auto Parts

If you’re on a budget and need to replace some car parts, a salvage yard or a junkyard can be a good place to start shopping. You may be able to find more parts at a salvage yard, but some junkyards will have unique parts for good prices.

On the other hand, if you are looking for scrap metal, a junkyard is likely to have better options, as this is their specialty. 


The major difference between auto salvage yards and junkyards is what they keep on their premises. Salvage yards have vehicles that no longer run but have valuable parts that can be resold. These vehicles are usually sourced from auctions, and the parts sold at salvage yards are usually very discounted.

Junkyards, on the other hand, will pick up broken cars with usable parts. The greatest value that you can derive from junkyards is scrap metal. Also note that junkyards have more of a negative stigma attached to them, while salvage yards are more organized and carry less of a stigma.