What is the Difference Between a Scrap Car and a Salvage Car?

The two phrases scrap car and salvage car tend to get used interchangeably, but they are not one and the same, even though they both imply that a car is not road worthy.

Defining the Two

When a car is involved in an accident or has incurred any form of extensive damage, the insurance company will assess the situation and decide to either repair it or to total it.

If they declare the vehicle as a total loss, it will be issued a salvage title. This basically implies that the vehicle is a salvage vehicle and has been salvaged from some sort of disastrous situation, such as a severe accident, flood, or vandalism. 

On the other hand, a scrap car, also known as a junk car, is one that can no longer be repaired due to the nature or extent of its damage. This may be due to the natural process of aging or any other similar reason.

If your car is in bad condition, but you are not sure whether it is a scrap or a salvage car, here are a few pointers that’ll guide you in the right direction.

Salvage Cars Can be “Salvaged”

Salvage cars, unlike scrap cars, can be salvaged and made road worthy again. If the car has been declared a total loss by the insurance or leasing company, it becomes a salvage car. Even if the insurance company chooses to not be involved in repairing the car, it may still be salvageable.

Note that insurance companies stand to gain by declaring a car to be a total loss, especially when the cost and work involved in repairing a car is significant. 

Scrap Cars Are Not Salvageable and are Only Good for Scrap Yards

Scrap cars are cars that can no longer run and a have a cost of repair that is higher than their value. This would mean replacing almost all the essential parts of the car. 

Scrap cars are totally ruined vehicles and lack most of their valuable parts or components. Some are mere body shells with minimal working parts, for example. Their best use is for the production of scrap material.

Scrap Cars are Cheap

Scrap cars may be as cheap as $180, and they rarely cost over $500. This is because their entire value is based on the amount of steel that they can produce.

Note that the value of scrap metal has been declining recently. Also note that the actual steel in the scrap is about 70%, and that other parts are composed of rubber, plastic, and other materials.

Salvage Cars are More Valuable

Salvage cars are not just metal, rather you can get a good number of usable spare parts and components from them. 

If the salvage car has been involved in a water or fire accident, chances are that it has some usable parts. This includes the engine, interior pieces, bodywork panels, wheels, and other significant parts.

Each of these parts needs to be taken out and valued separately. If this is done well, you could recoup a good amount from the vehicle.

Scrap Cars are Great for Recycling

Due to the condition of scrap cars, they are best suited for recycling. This is because, as previously mentioned, the only value that can be squeezed from them is the value of their scrap. 

Scrap cars can also be very old cars with no parts that can fit into modern cars. Alternatively, they can be cars that have been extensively damaged by water, fire, or other natural causes.

Because of the likely extent of their damage, scrap cars are best taken to junk yards where they can be fed into feeders and recycled.