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Who Pays the Most for Junk Cars? See What I Found When I Tried to Sell One!

Ready to get that junk car off your property? This articles covers all you need to know, the options and what I was quoted for a junk car when I contacted several potential buyers.

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated February 26th, 2024

Junk cars can be found anywhere. You know, those cars that have been sitting in your neighbors driveway for years because they cannot get it to start and it is not worth it to fix.

My husband actually calls out one that he has seen in a driveway around town since he was in high-school. I hate admitting this, but that was 30 years ago! It is covered up so we do not know what it is, but you can tell from the bottom that is a rust filled gem of old parts. Not sure why they keep it, but maybe they do not know people will pay for junk cars.

In this article I break down all you need to know to make sure you get the most for your junk car, and how to find a buyer. I also did my own little test to see who would value a junk car the highest for me.

Why Would Anyone Buy a Junk Car?

Junk cars might be purchased for some of the following reasons.

  • Parts for cars they are rebuilding. Junk cars often have a lot of parts that can still be useful to passionate car people. If they are rebuilding a car, the parts from your junk car might be just what they need to finish a product. These buyers might be mechanics or auto collectors.
  • Complete auto rebuild. Car enthusiasts often take on projects to rebuild or customize cars that are not working. Your junk may be their gems. That old rusty Firebird may just need some love and grease from a pro to get it back to its former glory.
  • Resell the parts at auctions or online. There are auto auctions, swap meets and even online opportunities to sell parts from junk cars.
  • Recycling. If the old car is just too far again, the parts can be sold off for scrap metal.
  • Historical value. Some museums and historical organizations might be interested in purchasing junk cars for the sentimental and story-telling value. Places like the Mahan Collection, where old Mach trucks go to get restored, thrive on old vehicle treasures that are sitting around!

Remember – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Now, onto the details to who paid the most for a junk car.

Who Pays Most For Junk Cars?

This article would be useless without data. So, I reached out to a few websites and even local junkyards to see what I would get for my “make believe” junk car.

The highest offer for my junk car test was a local car club! Clearly they valued my car more than I do. 😊

Your results will of course vary, but read on to learn more about the process and expectations for selling a junk vehicle.

The car was described as follows to each buyer I contacted or submitted through a web form.

  • 1982 Chevrolet Camaro (base model)
  • 145,000 miles
  • Light damage on back of car
  • Engine block has a crack
  • Tires are working but are bald
  • Battery is dead
  • Clean title of ownership
  • Some interior damage was present (ripped seat and scratches)
  • Location for pickup of car was Central, NJ
Business NamePrice OfferedNotes
Peddle.com$485.00Car pickup is free
Cashautosalvage.com$485.00Car pickup is free
Copart.com$762.43Car pickup is free
Local Scrapyard $350.00Have to deliver the car and make sure all oil, gas etc. is removed
Craigslist Posting$750.00Interested party was willing to pick it up
Local Camaro Club$1250.00I sent an email to a local Camaro Club. They had someone interested. Turns out they had an engine block waiting for a decent body. They would come pick it up.

So, clearly reaching out to a car club was the best option for my sample study. I might have even received more if I was able to do a walk through video for him – which of course I could not. I felt the disappointment in his email when I said we no longer had the car!

Important to note is that many online sites were just affiliates for Peddle.com and were using their quote calculator to deliver qoutes. I would go directly to Peddle.com if you decide to go that route.

Other websites were affiliates for Copart.com and used their calculator, again I would stick with Copart.com if you have a car later than 1981.

screenshots of quotes received fro junk car test on copart and peddle

What is Considered a Junk Car?

A junk car is a vehicle that is no longer in running condition or is too expensive to have an auto mechanic repair. It may have been in an accident, have major mechanical problems, or simply be too old to be worth repairing.

To determine if your car is considered a junk car, you can look at its current condition, age, make, model, and VIN number. If the car is not in running condition, it is likely a junk car. Additionally, if the cost of repairing the car is more than its current market value, it may be considered a junk car.

Factors Affecting Junk Car Prices

The value of a junk car is determined by several factors. When selling a junk car, it is important to have realistic expectations about its value.

It is also important to shop around and compare offers from different companies like I did above. Some companies may offer a higher payout for a junk car, while others may offer additional services such as free towing or same-day pickup.

1. Make and Model

The make and model of your junk car can have a big impact on its value. Some makes and models are more popular than others, which means there may be more demand for their parts. This can drive up the price you can get for your junk car. On the other hand, if your car is an obscure make or model, it may be harder to find a buyer, which can lower its value.

2. Condition and Mileage

The condition of your junk car is another important factor to consider. If your car is in good condition, it may be worth more than if it’s in poor condition. Additionally, the mileage on your car can also impact its value. Generally, the lower the mileage, the more your car is worth.

3. Location and Metal Prices

Where you live can also impact the value of your junk car. In some areas, there may be more demand for used car parts, which can drive up prices. Additionally, the current price of scrap metal can also impact the value of your car. If metal prices are high, you may be able to get more money for your junk car.

Overall, there are many factors that can influence the value of your junk car. By understanding these factors, you can better determine how much your car is worth and make an informed decision about where and how to sell it.

Getting the Best Price

If you’re looking to sell your junk car, you want to get the best price possible. Here are some tips to help you get the most money for your vehicle.

Research and Comparing Offers

Before you sell your junk car, do your research (like I did above!). Look up local companies that buy junk cars and read reviews from previous customers. Check out their websites and see if they have any special offers or promotions.

Once you have a list of potential buyers, start comparing their offers. Don’t just go with the first offer you receive. Get quotes from multiple companies and compare them side by side. Look at the price they’re offering, as well as any additional fees or charges.

Negotiation Strategies

When negotiating with a buyer, be confident and knowledgeable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or push for a higher price. If you have multiple offers, use them to your advantage. Let the buyer know that you have other offers and see if they’re willing to match or beat them.

Another negotiation strategy is to ask for additional services. For example, if the buyer is offering free towing, see if they can also remove any remaining gas or oil from the vehicle. If they’re offering a lower price, ask if they can throw in a free car wash or detailing.

Remember, the goal is to get the best price for your junk car. By doing your research and negotiating effectively, you can walk away with more cash in your pocket.

junk cars sitting in a mountain
Photo credit: Jill Caren Photo

Who Buys Junk Cars?

When it comes to selling your junk car, there are several types of buyers you can consider. Here are some of the most common types of junk car buyers:

Junkyards and Salvage Yards

Junkyards and salvage yards are businesses that specialize in buying and selling used and scrap vehicles. They typically pay cash for junk cars, but the amount they offer can vary widely depending on the condition of the vehicle and the demand for its parts. These buyers may also charge a fee for towing the vehicle to their location.

Private Buyers and Enthusiasts

Private buyers and enthusiasts are individuals who are interested in purchasing junk cars for personal use or to restore and resell. These buyers may be willing to pay more for a vehicle that has sentimental value or is rare or unique in some way. However, finding a private buyer can be challenging, and you may need to advertise your vehicle in local classifieds or online marketplaces.

Charities and Donation Centers

Charities and donation centers are organizations that accept vehicle donations as a way to raise funds. These buyers may not pay cash for your junk car, but they can provide you with a tax deduction for your donation.

However, it’s important to research the charity or organization before donating your vehicle to ensure that they are reputable and will use the proceeds from your donation in a responsible way. Kars4Kids.com is one of the most popular donation options.

Online Junk Car Buyers

Online junk car buyers are companies that specialize in buying and selling used and scrap vehicles online. These buyers typically offer free towing and can provide an instant quote for your vehicle based on its condition and location.

Some of the most popular online junk car buyers include Peddle, Carvana, and Copart. It’s important to research these companies and read reviews from other sellers before choosing a buyer to ensure that you are getting a fair price for your vehicle.

Overall, there are several types of junk car buyers that you can consider when selling your vehicle. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to research your options and choose the buyer that best fits your needs.

Requirements to Sell a Car

Before you sell your junk car, there are a few things you need to do to prepare for the sale. This section will cover the three most important things you need to do before selling your junk car.

Documentation and Ownership Proof

To sell your junk car, you will need to provide proof of ownership. This means you need to have the car’s title or registration in your name. If you don’t have the title or registration, you can contact your state’s DMV to get a replacement. Without proof of ownership, it will be difficult to sell your car.

Removing Personal Belongings

Before selling your junk car, make sure to remove all personal belongings from the car. Check the glove box, trunk, and any other compartments to make sure you haven’t left anything behind. Not only is it important to remove your personal belongings for privacy reasons, but it can also help you avoid any potential liability issues.

Assessing Usable Parts

Before selling your junk car, it’s a good idea to assess which parts of the car are still usable. This can help you negotiate a better price for your car. Look for parts that are in good condition, such as the engine, transmission, and tires. Make sure to document the condition of these parts and share this information with potential buyers.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you are prepared to sell your junk car and get the most money for it. Remember to have all the necessary documentation, remove personal belongings, and assess the usable parts of the car.

Common Questions About Selling Junk Cars

If you’re considering selling a junk car, you may have some questions about the process. Here are some common questions and answers to help you understand what to expect.

What makes a car a junk car?

A car is considered junk if it is no longer operable or if the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the car. Some common signs that a car may be junk include:

  • The car won’t start or run
  • The car has been in a major accident
  • The car has severe rust or other damage
  • The car has been sitting unused for a long period of time

If you’re not sure if your car is considered junk, you can contact a local towing service or junk car buyer to get an assessment.

State requirements for selling junk vehicles

Each state has its own requirements for selling a junk car. In some states, you may need to provide a title or other proof of ownership. In other states, you may need to have the car inspected or meet certain emissions requirements. It’s important to research your state’s specific requirements before selling your junk car.

Who Pays the Most for Junk Cars?

Who will pay you the most for your junk vehicle will depend on several factors. Mechanical status, physical appearance, rarity of the car, metal prices and uniqueness are just a few details that will impact price.

In my research, I found that a car club would pay me the most for my clunker. Reaching out to several places will be your best bet to find out who will give you the most money.

Evaluating Junk Car Buyers

When it comes to selling your junk car, not all buyers are created equal. Some companies may offer you a lowball price for your vehicle, while others may charge hidden fees or make it difficult to schedule a pickup. To ensure that you get the most money for your car, it’s important to do your research and evaluate potential buyers carefully.

One of the best ways to find a reputable junk car buyer is to read online reviews and check their ratings with organizations like the Better Business Bureau. Look for buyers who offer competitive prices, free towing, and transparent pricing policies.

Maximizing Car Value for Sale

To get the most money for your junk car, there are a few things you can do to maximize its value. First, gather all of the relevant paperwork, including the title, registration, and any maintenance records. Having these documents on hand can help establish the car’s value and make the selling process smoother.

Consider selling any valuable parts or components separately. For example, if your car has a relatively new battery or set of tires, you may be able to sell these items individually for a higher price than you would get by selling the car as a whole. You can also remove any personal belongings or aftermarket upgrades from the car before selling it.

Finally, be realistic about the car’s value and condition. While you may have sentimental attachment to your old vehicle, it’s important to understand that its value is primarily based on its weight and the value of its scrap metal. Be honest about any damage or mechanical issues the car may have, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with potential buyers to get the best price.

In conclusion, when it comes to selling your junk car, it’s important to do your research and evaluate potential buyers carefully. By following these tips and maximizing the value of your car for sale, you can get the most money for your vehicle and free up some much-needed space in your garage or driveway.

Are there any additional factors besides make, model, condition, and location that can affect the price offered for a junk car?

Additional factors beyond make, model, condition, and location can indeed impact the price offered for a junk car. These factors may include the rarity of the car, the current demand for its parts, its mechanical status beyond what’s mentioned (such as transmission or electrical system), and any unique features or upgrades the car may have.

The current prices of scrap metal and the overall economic conditions can influence the value of the car.

How do I ensure that I’m dealing with a reputable junk car buyer, especially when selling online or to private buyers?

Ensuring you’re dealing with a reputable junk car buyer is crucial to getting a fair deal and avoiding potential scams or complications. One effective way to vet buyers is by conducting thorough research. This involves checking online reviews and ratings from previous sellers, as well as verifying their credentials with organizations like the Better Business Bureau.

Look for buyers who offer transparent pricing policies, competitive prices, and free towing services. Additionally, it’s advisable to read and understand the terms and conditions of the sale agreement before committing to any transaction.

What are some alternative options for disposing of a junk car if I’m not satisfied with the offers received from junkyards or online buyers?

If you’re not satisfied with the offers received from junkyards or online buyers, there are alternative options for disposing of a junk car. One option is to explore selling valuable parts or components separately, either online or through local automotive enthusiast communities.

Additionally, you may consider donating the car to a charitable organization that accepts vehicle donations. While this may not result in immediate cash, it can provide you with a tax deduction and support a worthy cause. Alternatively, you could explore scrap metal recycling centers or inquire about government-sponsored programs for recycling old vehicles.


Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.