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Scrapping A Car: Could This Be The Definitive Guide?

The term scrap goes back many decades where old metal was just that, as cars back then were made of steel, prone to rusting easily vehicles had a shorted life span, did far less miles and was typical to end their life as a rust bucket that found itself in land fill. An American term often used is “Junk Car”.

Typically today though, it relates more to owners wanting to dispose of an End Of Life car or in most cases, one that could be saved, but just has become uneconomical to repair.

How It Used To Be, Maybe The Golden Age Of Motoring

Cars were only owned by the middle class of more wealthy and repairs and breakdowns tended by engineers, or serious amateur enthusiasts. The Breaker yard had not yet been invented and so the recycling of parts almost non existent. Old vehicles may end up in a scrap yard, where any steel still in good condition, say from the block of an engine could be melted down and re-used. The value of the so called scrap car was based on metal weight and condition.

As time moved on, the use of plastics became more common, and manufacturing processes moved to a bolt on process within a factory environment, rather than the hand made tradesman approach. So if parts can be bolted on within a factory, then why couldn't the “average Joe” do it at home? So over time, home mechanics became easier and less specialist.

Bodywork was still an issue to prevent rusting, but mechanical parts such as engines, gearboxes would often outlast a rusting body shell. In time the breaker yards started to form across the country to help budding home mechanics have access to second hand parts, to keep other cars going. These parts worth could be more than their weight in steel, to be melted down. Some scrap yards also started diversifying, both selling parts and buying scrap metal.

Today modern manufacturing processes and clever water dispersing and guttering means, bodywork lasts much longer and the tolerances of engines, means that with good servicing they can do serious high mileages.

A More Modern Approach

So today when we talk about scrapping a vehicle it more often relates to taking it off the road officially through the DVLA and then recycling as many of the parts as possible, rather than physical scrap. There could be zero rust on the car in question, even to the point that it works perfectly fine, but just needs a few additions to pass its MOT which costs more than its re-saleable value.

The law states the Co2 emissions must be within a certain level also, another reason why a good driver could come to the end of its life.

Businesses Who Advertise To Buy Your Scrap Car

The sole purpose to buy your old car off you, is like all businesses to make a profit. A vehicle that has failed its MOT or uneconomical to repair still can have some value and some models more than most. Think about it. How many parts there are on your car than could be re-sold.

  • Engine
  • Gearbox
  • Doors
  • Seats
  • Radio CD/Player
  • Door Glass
  • Window Mechanisms
  • Radiator
  • Bumpers
  • Door Handles
  • Door Mirrors
  • Plastic Body Trim
  • Internal Trim
  • Headlight Clusters
  • Rear Light Clusters
  • Battery
  • Starter Motor
  • Alternator
  • Wheels (especially if alloy)
  • Bonnet
  • Rear Hatch
  • Water Bottles
  • Windscreen Wiper Motor
  • Master Brake caliper
  • Steering Wheel

Parts that are unlikely to be re-sold by breaker yards or businesses

  • Brake pads
  • Windscreen (sometimes still can)
  • Brake discs
  • Brake pipes
  • Airbags (if programmed to car)
  • Welded panels, such as wings and sills

This is not a definitive list but should indicate the value of an “in demand” model and why they may offer a good price for it.

However it is also true to state, that when there is an abundance of models in breaker yards and a small demand for parts, even these parts can be just worth their weight in metal and for some parts, will actually cost the business to dispose of. An example is car batteries that do not charge. The acids within have to be demolished properly, this is not cheap.

A friend of mine recently rang a breaker yard to dispose of his old Ford Ka, that did have rust and had failed its MOT. All they would do is offer £40 to take it off his hands if he drove it to them, or nothing if they had to pick it up. When asked why, they said they already had 10 of this model in the yard already. It would cost them to dispose of all the chemicals, liquids and plastics the cost being similar to its metal weight.

Where Your Car Could Be Worth Something More

But it is also true that certain models, say BMW’s and Mercedes, have a very good value, as their engines can sell for thousands alone. It is not unusual for certain cars to be bought with good MOT, just to be stripped down for “in demand” parts that are worth a premium.

So how do you tell, if your car is the one “in demand” or not? Pretty simple really, you ask for several quotes. What is scrap metal to one yard may be part paradise to another. Get several or a least a few different quotes, then you will know for sure the true end of life value.

What Other Things Can Happen To My Car?

Well in Britain there are quite frankly too many cars in total to suit demand, that is why we have some of the lowest prices for any used vehicle in Europe. As vehicles over here are RHD, it becomes harder for them to integrate into other European countries, say like France and Spain.

But there are other countries where older cars are more in demand and where safety laws may not be as strict as ours. A key continent is Africa, when many of the models we see as outdated are everyday transport over there. There are fewer online options or main part dealers, so sending a batch of unwanted vehicles to Africa can serve the demand there well.

The car you think are scrapping may at this point not be heading for that breaker yard in the sky, but be de-registered with the DVLA and exported, either as a whole car or parts to other countries or the world, where demand is higher.

Sending complete cars can eliminate the need for correct chemical disposal as the responsibility is transferred to the new owners, who will follow there own local laws.

(Ironically Britain often buys in scrap parts from Japan, where vehicle mileages tend to be lower. To satisfy UK demand for Japanese parts)

What Is A Take back Scheme?

All manufactures have to provide a service that will recycle their vehicles at the end of their life free of charge to the current vehicle owners. These “Take back” Centres will even collect your vehicle and may eventually issue a Certificate Of Destruction for your vehicle, so you know it has been recycled correctly within the law.

These centres work to a very strict recycle target which is currently at 95% and then report back to the relevant manufactures. Of course these centres are licensed, but there is one bit of bad news. They will not offer any money for your car. This whole process is free to you, but you do not gain any cash.

For the record, it is illegal for anyone to charge you for the service of scrapping any car.

Selling My Scrap Car To A Businesses

What you have to remember is that any business such as a breaker yard, looking to buy your End Of Life Vehicle will not have the same emotional attachment to it as you. It is in most cases a piece of stock only. The time to evaluate and collect can be as much as the profit within, so often prices are offered quickly there and then, sometimes over the phone before even seeing the vehicle. So if you are wishing to sell your scrap car, make sure you have a list of positives right up front. Examples could be alloy wheels, good engine, low emissions on MOT etc.

Stating it has good brakes, is unlikely to make the car look more attractive as very few brake parts will be re-sold. Just saying the make, model and year will only get you the basic price quote.

Car with valuable alloy wheels

Be honest with what is wrong with the car and if it that model has a common problem, for example timing belt and you know it has been changed, make sure you get that in straight away within your list of positives. And as what has already been mentioned, get more than one quote there is nothing to lose by doing that.

Timing can also be good, if they have recovery vehicles in the area anyway, reducing their costs they could be even more interested.

Although many advertise cash for your car, it is sometimes illegal to do so. The law requires some sort of paper trial, so money is more likely to paid into your bank via transfer.

Remember, that once ownership is transferred, it is their vehicle to do as they wish. Although it is unlikely for most vehicles to find themselves back on a UK road. If it was uneconomical for you to repair, it is just as likely for a business too.

In most cases that "End Of Life Vehicle" cannot make it to the auto dismantlers on its own steam, or maybe it would be illegal to do so. Finding someone who will come and collect the vehicle either locally, or an agent who is prepared to travel further afield, could help you dispose of your car quickly and easily. The list of cities and towns above are just an indication where agents will operate.

More remote locations are always considered, but sometimes the time and costs to collect has to be considered, when waiting for a quote.

UK Locations That You Can Sell That Scrap Car