No car is completely worthless, regardless of what you might think. No matter how badly damaged a vehicle may be, it will still have at least some value for the scrap metal it contains, and possibly more for individual parts that can be used in other vehicles. Your car may not be driveable, and it may not even start up, but it will still almost certainly have some kind of value that it can be redeemed for.
If you have no professional knowledge of car values, there’s a fairly straightforward way to calculate what your car might be worth so that you can be at least moderately well-informed when you’re dealing with a junkyard. If you have no knowledge of what to expect whatsoever, it’s very possible that you will be taken advantage of by a junkyard, and that you will receive much less than what your car is actually worth.
To find out what your junk vehicle may be worth, keep reading! By the time we’re finished, you’ll have at least a ballpark idea of the value that your junk car still has.
What is my junk car worth?
When your car has been damaged to the extent that the cost to repair it would be more than its book value, your insurance company will probably write it off as a total loss. However, that doesn’t mean you should write it off as well, because almost any car, regardless of how badly damaged it is, will still have some salvage value.
The actual salvage value your car has will depend on its year, make, and model, as well as its current condition. The first step toward calculating the salvage value of your vehicle will be to look up the wholesale and retail value of a similar car using the National Automobile Dealers Association Used Car Guide, or you could use an alternative resource like the Kelley Blue Book.
If you use both of these resources, you should add the totals you get from each one and then divide by two to get an approximate market value for your vehicle. Then, you’ll need to contact your insurance company to obtain the percentage of market value that it uses for the determination of current salvage value.
Although it varies from state to state and from company to company, you can be pretty confident that the current salvage value will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% of the market value. You can then multiply the car’s current market value by .25, and that will give you the car’s current salvage value. The figure you arrive at will always be lower than the current market value of the vehicle, and if the total cost of any necessary repairs exceeds this amount, the car will be written off as a loss.
How to prepare your car for scrapping
- When preparing your car for scrapping, the first thing you should do is take an inventory of the vehicle — something that the junkyard will do as well before it begins to dismantle your vehicle. If your vehicle is so damaged that the only thing that makes sense is to sell it for parts, then there won’t be much that you can do. Still, it’s worth your while to take notes about the specific damage that your car has sustained and to determine if there are any parts on your car that may have value: a GPS system, fairly new tires, or a good stereo system, for instance.
- You’ll need all of this information when you’re describing your car’s condition to a junkyard dealer or junk car removal service so that they will be able to give you an accurate estimate. Then, you need to use the Kelley Blue Book to figure out what value your car would have if it were in good condition. This will give you a general idea of what the car would be worth if it weren’t damaged at all. If you really know a lot about cars, you can probably figure out the salvage value of your car by subtracting the total cost of all necessary repairs from the book value you got out of the Kelley Blue Book.
- Next, you’ll need to locate the title of your car so that you can prove ownership. This will be important, because most junkyards will not buy your car unless you can demonstrate that you actually own it and are entitled to sell it. If you do sell the car to a junkyard, you’ll need to sign the title over to that organization so that they can assume ownership.
- Now it’s time to remove all of the personal items you may have left in the car: in the glove box, under the seats, in the trunk, and anywhere else. Make sure all of your personal items have been removed, including your license plates, before you transfer ownership to the junkyard.
- The last thing you need to do is check with the Department of Motor Vehicles for your state to see what is required in the process of relinquishing your junk vehicle. This is to ensure that you’re in compliance with whatever your state requirements are so you don’t run afoul of the law at some point.
Final thoughts on junk car value
Sometimes, even professional auto dealers and junkyard dealers get it wrong when they’re estimating the value of junked vehicles. In order to assess the true value of any old or damaged vehicle, it is necessary to do a bit of your own research to figure out what the value of your car would be if it were in good condition and subtract out the entire cost of what it would take to fix it.
This will quite often end up being more than the car’s book value, and when that’s the case, most insurance companies will write off the car as a loss. From that point on, it’s up to you to determine the salvage value of the vehicle by finding any useful, serviceable parts that can be sold by themselves. Then, there will also be some scrap metal value, and this can be added to the total salvage value as well. Once you’ve got your figures calculated, you’re ready to take a trip to your junkyard and get some decent money for your loss!