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What happens to scrap cars?

If you’re curious about what happens to scrap cars, read on for a breakdown of the steps taken by scrap dealers to destroy vehicles safely. Your car should only be scrapped at an authorised treatment facility (ATF) where they’ve got the skill set to recycle your vehicle properly. It’s illegal and punishable by heavy fines in the UK to scrap your car at any other location.

The depollution process

The first step in scrapping your car is to extract the hazardous materials present. The car battery is removed, which contains acid that can cause blindness, and lead, which is poisonous when ingested.

The fuel tank of your car will also be removed, along with any airbags fitted. Both of these parts are considered dangerous as they could explode. With air bags, this is caused by the chemicals they contain. In the case of fuel tanks, traces of petrol or diesel are highly flammable. Containing pyrotechnic charges, seat belt pretensioners are also removed for safety.

Disposing of fluids safely

The fluids contained in a car for scrap must also be disposed of correctly. Remaining fuel, coolants, oils and anti-freeze can contaminate soil or the water supply if not dealt with properly. Car parts that come into contact with fluids and pollutants or contain them must also be removed. From your car’s catalytic converter to its oil cap, all must be dismantled safely.

Recycling your tyres

A scrap car’s tyres will be removed for recycling at a specialist centre. Only a limited number of tyres can be secured at such a site at any one time for safety’s sake. The material they’re made from means that should they catch fire, a large quantity of tyres can burn at extremely high temperatures for several days.

Crushing your scrap car

With the depollution process fully complete, your scrap car is ready to be safely crushed. All of its individual parts are separated by material classification including metal, fibre and plastic, then fully recycled.

Payment for scrap cars

When accepting payment for your scrapped vehicle, it’s important to be aware that you should never take cash from a scrap dealer. The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 made cash payments for scrap cars illegal in both England and Wales. This was part of an effort to reduce car crime and prohibit the activities of unscrupulous scrap dealers. Only accept payment by bank transfer or cheque.

Certificate of Destruction and informing the DVLA

Within seven day of scrapping your car, the ATF will send you an official Certificate of Destruction confirming that your vehicle has been disposed of.

You must inform the DVLA when your vehicle’s been scrapped; failure to do so can result in fines of up to £1,000. Before handing your V5 logbook to the scrapyard, remove the slip from the yellow section which confirms you’ve had your car scrapped and post it to the DVLA.

If you don’t have a V5 registration document, you need to write to the DVLA and include your details and the name and address of the ATF where your car was scrapped. Let them know the exact date when the transaction took place and include your car registration number, make and model. Ensure you double check your application before sending, because if you miss out any of these details from your submission it will be rejected by the DVLA and you’ll falsely be registered as the keeper of your scrapped vehicle.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

At, we can provide pre-purchase inspections for imported vehicles. However, it’s important that you let us know if the vehicle is imported when you book – as this gives our inspector time to prepare accordingly.

The cost of a vehicle inspection through starts at £189. When you consider that around 50% of pre-owned vehicles currently for sale have some undeclared damage or negative history, this is a small price to pay to know you’re buying an honest car.

A pre-purchase vehicle report is based on the expertise and opinion of the inspector at the time the inspection is carried out. Since we cannot control what happens to the vehicle after the report is completed, an inspection does not come with a guarantee.

Vehicle inspections are designed to give you all the information you need to decide whether or not a car is right for you. An independent inspector will check the electrical, mechanical, and cosmetic parts of a vehicle; before providing you with a detailed report on their condition.

With, you don’t need to be present when one of our independent inspectors carries out an inspection on your behalf. Your report will include photos of the car too – so you can be confident you’re getting the full picture, even if you’re miles away.

At, our vehicle inspection partner offers inspections throughout mainland UK, and can usually complete your inspection within 2-3 working days.

The cost of a pre-purchase vehicle inspection will start from either £189 or £229 – depending on the level you choose. Your inspection will be promptly carried out by a professional vehicle inspector, and you’ll receive a detailed photographic report about the car.

At, there is no maximum age for Premium Plus vehicle inspections. However, we have a 10-year age limit for our Premium inspection service.

Since the UK weather is so changeable, you’ll be pleased to hear that vehicle inspections can be done in the rain. Extreme weather conditions may require that your inspection is rearranged, but this is very rare.

A pre-purchase vehicle inspection is a way of checking the overall condition of a car you’re looking at buying. The inspection report that’s produced will help you discover any hidden issues with that car before you part with any money.