Unfortunately, since valuing a scrap car depends on a lot of factors, a quick online search for 'scrap value of car' is probably only going to leave you with more questions. The good news is, at Car.co.uk, we know what each of those factors is; so, we can share some inside knowledge, and explain exactly much your car is worth as scrap.
In this detailed guide, we’ll cover some useful information, including:
- What influences the value of scrap cars?
- Why catalytic converters are worth so much
- Whether or not you can accept cash for your scrap vehicle
- Some typical scrap car prices for popular UK models
- How to sell your scrap car for the highest price
We’ll also cover some common questions people have about scrapping their car, including "Why is scrapping my car better than breaking it?" and "How can you get the price for your scrap car?" - and we'll help you avoid a few ‘tricks of the trade’ that some scrap yards have been known to use to knock your value down…
What influences scrap car prices?
Since we provide Car.co.uk customers with an instant price for their scrap car, you could be fooled into thinking that finding the value of a scrap car it’s a quick process, with a best price that simply comes from a car guidebook behind the scenes. In actual fact, working out current scrap car prices considers a lot more than might first meet the eye:
The size and weight of the car
Generally speaking, dismantlers will calculate scrap car value ‘per ton’ - based on the weight of your car.
This isn’t an exact science – but, since scrap car dealers have usually scrapped thousands of cars, they’ll have a good idea of the quantities of each valuable material they can recover from a car based on how much it weighs.
For instance, there’s going to be significantly more steel to recover from a car like a Range Rover Sport than there is from a Smart car. This is also likely to be true of other materials, such as copper, aluminium, and so on.
There are some exceptions to this. For example, if you’re planning to scrap a carbon-fibre bodied McLaren, it’s likely to weigh less than Ford Mondeo. Don’t worry though, in a case like this; we’d always try to help you find a specialist dismantler who’ll offer you more than just scrap value if you’ve got a high-value car.
Distance from the scrap car dealer
Some dealers will offer to collect your scrap car free of charge - but may reflect that in the price you’re offered. Others will tell you they plan to knock a little bit off the price they offer if they have to travel to get to your car. One thing’s certain, there are some costs involved with picking up a scrap car, and a dealer needs to cover those costs.
As such, you’ll find you’re likely to get a better price from dealers close to your car versus scrap car dealers who are further away. Again, some specialist car dismantlers will be willing to travel a little further, but for most cars, you’ll get a better price if you get a valuation from a company close by.
The make and model of your car (and sometimes the age)
In the same way that a new Rolls Royce will cost you more to buy than a pre-owned Volkswagen Polo; a scrap car value will reflect the make, model, and age of the vehicle too.
Often, higher-price cars simply have more valuable materials that can be recovered from them, so they’re more valuable when they’re dismantled. You’ll often find that a newer car is in better condition too – so, again, there’s a better chance that a dismantler will be able to recover more and better-condition materials.
Missing or damaged parts
Since we now know weight has such a significant impact on a scrap car’s value, you probably won’t be surprised to discover that missing parts will affect the price you’re offered.
As such, removing parts from the car to sell separately is likely to end up with you getting a significantly reduced value. The closer to original your car is, the more desirable it will be to a scrap dealer – as this means they know exactly what they can remove from the vehicle.
Scrap metal value
Metals are considered to be ‘commodities’ – the name given to raw materials that are bought and sold on markets around the world. Commodities’ prices go up and down depending on supply and demand – as well as a predicted future supply and demand.
All this talk of supply and demand might sound like something that would only concern city traders – but in much the same way that the ‘market value’ of cocoa can impact the price you pay for a chocolate bar; the market value of metals may have some impact on the price you’re offered for your scrap vehicle.
In reality, the market value of metal probably isn’t going to be something many people consider when you've got a car to scrap – but it may change the price you’re offered slightly, so, it’s a factor that should be mentioned.
“So, how much will I get when I scrap my car?!”
As you can probably tell from this list, there’s no simple way for an individual to work out their own scrap car valuation. However, we’re willing to do that hard work for you - completely free! When you request an instant quote using our service, we’ll connect you with a range of scrap car dealers – so you can compare prices.
It’s useful to have a comparison – so you get to find out whether there’s consistency across dealers – or whether a specialist is offering you more than just scrap value for a car they specialise in.
Why are catalytic converters worth so much?
We’ve talked a little already about how your vehicle is likely to be worth more if there are no missing parts – but there’s one part that makes more of a difference than virtually any other – the catalytic converter.
Since 1993, car emissions laws have stated that any vehicle made in the UK must have a catalytic converter. A ‘cat’ is a part of the exhaust system that causes a chemical reaction when exhaust gases pass through it – making them less harmful when they leave your car. The catalyst that makes this reaction happen is actually a blend of extremely expensive metals – often including platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
As we’ve already discussed, metal prices change frequently, but rhodium and palladium are consistently more expensive than gold – so you probably won’t be surprised to find people are keen to get their hands on it! With gold prices increasing, precious metals are pushing all time highs.
Because of this, you’ll find that a catalytic converter is one of the most desirable parts of your scrap car. It might be tempting to take it off and sell it separately – but you’ll find you’ll get significantly less for your vehicle if you do.
Can you take cash when you're scrapping your car?
It’s not uncommon to see advertisements on social media, classified websites, and even lampposts, offering to pay cash for old cars or MOT failures. While the idea of cash in your hand is tempting – it’s actually against the law for traders to buy scrap cars with cash – and you could be breaking the law selling your car to them.
What’s the problem legally?
In 2013, the government revised the law that relates to scrap metal collection. They created the Scrap Metal Dealers Act – a series of conditions that scrap car dealers have to abide by if they want to keep their licence to trade as a scrap metal dealer.
Section 12 of the act states that a dealer must not pay for scrap metal by any means other than a cheque or an electronic transfer of funds – and since a car is considered scrap metal, a trader dealing in cash could face fines, or even having their scrap licence taken away.
Now, those punishments may sound very much a scrap dealer’s problem – but the issues don’t end there.
What’s the problem for you if you’re paid with cash?
None of the scrap yards we work with here at Car.co.uk issue payment in cash – and that’s because they all meet strict government Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) standards. ATFs are the only kind of scrap yard which can fulfil the full scrapping process – requesting the DVLA the paperwork you need to prove your car has been scrapped.
What this really means is that a scrap yard that pays you in cash is unlikely to be a legitimate ATF – so you could be left without the paperwork you need if there are any legal issues with the car. It’s not uncommon for fines and penalty notices that relate to the scrap car to come through the letterbox of the previous owner – and a cash deal leaves you without any proof that the car has been transferred.
As if this wasn’t a good enough reason to avoid cash-paying scrap car dealers – there’s another! In many cases, ‘scrap car dealers’ who pay cash are actually just road-side traders who are looking to make a quick profit from you. They’ll offer you a low value for your car, before taking it straight to an ATF and pocketing the difference – money that should be in your bank account.
The short answer is this: don’t accept cash for your scrap car – you could get into legal trouble – and you’ll get a better price from a scrap yard that follows the rules.
Some scrap car price examples
Although each car we provide a scrap quote for is a little different, we’ve listed some recent prices for various makes and models here – so you can get an idea of what some of the UK’s most popular cars are worth if you plan to scrap your car:
Getting the best price for your scrap car
Just because you’re selling your car to a scrap dealer, it doesn’t mean you have to settle for rock-bottom car scrap prices. If you want to maximise the value of your car, we’ve compiled a few tips that’ll help:
DON’T: Remove parts or ‘break’ your car
People often suggest that a scrap car may be worth more as parts – and while it could be true, dismantling or ‘breaking’ a car often creates a world of problems you might not anticipate.
Firstly, people will buy the most valuable components first – like your catalytic converter, the wheels (if they come with good tyres), and the engine. If this happens, you could be left with a vehicle that’s extremely hard to move, and not worth a great deal. In some cases, scrap dealers charge more if a car takes an especially long time to move – so you could end up worse off.
What’s more – you’re likely to find yourself with parts that are either dangerous to remove – or need to be handled in line with strict Environment Agency laws. Many of the fluids from the car (such as oil, gearbox and steering fluid, and fuel) are hazardous and will need to be disposed of at a specialist facility. Also, you shouldn’t forget that there are explosive charges in your car that are designed to deploy the various airbags in the case of an accident. Mishandling charges like these can be dangerous – and, again, they need to be handled, stored, and disposed of in line with the law.
If you do have the time, expertise, tools, and knowledge needed to strip the car back to its component parts, you’ll need somewhere to store your scrap car parts until they sell – and there’s no guarantee they will.
When you consider your time, the effort needed, and the number of potential headaches that can go hand-in-hand with dismantling a full scrap car, it’s often better just to compare prices from the best local scrap dealers – and take the lucrative easy-option!
DO: Look for car scrap traders and dealers close to you
As we’ve already mentioned, the further any scrap dealer needs to come to collect your vehicle, the less they’ll be able to pay. One way or another, they need to cover their transport and staff costs, so it can often make a big difference if you can choose a dealer that’s as close as possible.
If you don’t fancy trying to find local scrap yards using a search engine and then checking on the .gov.uk website to make sure they meet ATF accreditation – let us do the legwork for you. When you get an instant quote, you’ll be able to look at how close the scrap yard is – and be confident in the knowledge that every one of Car.co.uk’s scrap partners are government approved.
DO: Sell your car at the right time
Generally, scrap dealers tend to find themselves more heavily booked toward the end of the month – especially in the days approaching people’s payday.
In some cases, the scrap yards simply don’t have enough time in the day to handle the amount of business that comes their way – so, they’ll offer lower prices instead. It might seem like a strange approach – but it means a more manageable workload for a potentially greater profit.
With this in mind, you might want to look into getting a quote earlier in the month – and get a guaranteed price when the demands on the scrap dealer’s time are quite low. Aim for the first two weeks of the month if possible. It might not make a huge difference – but any additional money in your account is a bonus if you can afford to hold off until the right time.
DON’T: Fall for any ‘tricks of the car trade’
When you get an instant price to sell your vehicle through Car.co.uk, we guarantee that you’ll be dealing with a reputable ATF – but not all scrap dealers work quite so honestly as our partners.
While dishonest scrap dealers are few and far between, it’s not impossible that you might come across someone who takes advantage of the general public’s limited knowledge around scrap cars – so, be aware of what to listen for:
- “It’s not worth anything, but I can do you a favour and take it off your hands for free.”
Quite simply, anyone telling you an End of Life Vehicle (ELV) isn’t worth anything is just trying to take advantage. At the very least, an ELV – or scrap car – is worth the price of the metal it’s made of – so, if anyone tells you it’s not, say no thank you – and keep shopping around until you find someone more honest to deal with.
- “If it’s got no log book I’ll need to knock £25 off the price for a replacement.”
If you lose your V5C log book, replacing it costs £25 and can take the DVLA up to 6 weeks to provide a new one. The thing is, you don’t need a log book to scrap your car – and any trader that tells you otherwise is being dishonest, in an effort to make themselves an extra £25 profit.
You’ll need to send the DVLA a letter explaining that you’ve sold the car to a dismantler instead – but don’t worry, we’ve got a detailed guide showing you exactly what to do if you’ve lost your V5C. If the trader you’re dealing with tries to knock your price down, say no thank you – and find one that won’t.
DO: Agree a price with the car dealer
Although we take it for granted that Car.co.uk’s scrap partners offered guaranteed valuations, not all scrap dealers do – and it can lead to some unpleasant encounters when they come to collect your vehicle.
Occasionally, a driver will try to haggle over the price you’ve been offered on your doorstep. They’re banking on the fact that you’re probably not 100% confident in the scrapping process – so many people back down – but it’s important you don’t let them take advantage. You can explain that the price isn’t up for discussion – and, if they don’t like it, you can simply get in touch with another scrap yard. 99% of the time they will back down after trying their luck – but if they don’t, use our instant valuation service – our partners offer a guaranteed price – and they never haggle when they collect.
A few common questions about the value of a scrap car
At Car.co.uk, we’re asked hundreds of questions about scrap cars every day – and many of them relate to the prices we pay or how the vehicle is valued:
“My car is in poor condition, will that reduce the price?”
Generally, even a car that is in poor condition will still worth at least scrap metal value. If there are parts that are badly damaged or missing, this might impact your price – but don’t worry too much about the condition – we don’t expect a scrap car to be in showroom condition.
“Will unused car road tax add to the price I’m offered?”
Since the government did away with tax discs and changed vehicle tax to an online system, your tax is actually linked to you, and cannot be passed to the next owner. As such, unused tax won’t add to the price directly – but you can follow our handy guide on how to reclaim any unused months from the DVLA.
“Will I get a better price if I drop the car off?”
Quite simply – no. The person who’s going to help to arrange your paperwork may not be available if you drop your car off – and some ATF car scrap yards are not safe for members of the public to enter. With Car.co.uk, we offer free collection – and our partners can pick up from your home, a local garage, your workplace, or any other location that suits you.
How much will Car.co.uk offer for your vehicle?
If you’re keen to scrap your car find the best prices from Car.co.uk’s country-wide network of ATF car scrap metal dealers – the process couldn’t be easier.
All we need is your car registration number and postcode – then we’ll instantly return the best prices from scrap yards near you. What’s more, we work with a number of specialists that are often willing to pay more for certain makes and models – so you might be in for a very pleasant surprise.
Of course, it’s not just great prices that make us the UK’s favourite way to find the scrap value of a car, when you choose Car.co.uk, you also get to know that:
- You’ll get a guaranteed quote – with no haggling over your car on the doorstep
- All our partners are ATFs – so you’ll get all the legal paperwork you need and a top price for your car
- You’ll always get free car collection - with a friendly driver
- Our partners make prompt payments shortly after collection
What’s more, when you accept one of our outstanding scrap car quotes, part of the revenue that your vehicle helps us to create will mean we can continue our support of charities and community projects. We don’t just help you maximise the value of your vehicle – it also helps us to give something back to help some of the country’s most vulnerable people.
Now you know what influences scrap car prices in the UK, why not get a quote and see what your specific make and model is worth?