The Two Types of Junk Cars

You’ve probably heard a less than stellar vehicle referred to as a variety of names that we can’t really list here, but if you’ve ever heard the term “junk car,” have you wondered what that really meant? It’s not simply a way to describe a car that’s near the end of its life and there’s actually an entire industry dedicated to moving these vehicles to their final resting place.

There are actually two types of junk cars; scrap cars and salvage cars.

The tldr is that scrap cars only contain value in their weight in metal whereas salvage cars contain value beyond that.

Many times, people confuse scrap cars with salvage cars, so we’re going to explain how they differ, understand what a scrap car actually is, and learn what you can do with yours.

Scrap Cars

The word “scrap” itself describes a small piece of something that’s left over after the rest of an item has been used up. Scrap cars are bought by junkyards and cash for junk car services like Junk Car Medics based on the vehicle’s weight.

A scrap car is one that is no longer functional and can only be taken to a scrap yard. Most scrap cars include some of the following:

  • Missing parts including the engine, mirrors, door handles, seats, or tires.
  • No traceable line of paperwork, meaning that the title and registration are long gone.
  • They don’t run or would be so costly to repair that they aren’t a worthy investment.
  • Typically a scrap car is older and hasn’t been well maintained.
  • Some of these vehicles have sustained immense damage including fire or vandalism.
  • The car contains no reusable car parts.

Therefore, it only contains value in its weight in metal. Everything else on the vehicle is useless.

Salvage Cars

While sending a car to the graveyard is certainly not the end of the world, sometimes vehicles end up there when they shouldn’t. In a way, it would be like throwing food out because you already ate half of it and you just didn’t think the rest would be any good. Instead of sending a fixable car to its death, many people attempt to salvage a vehicle.

Like a scrap car, a salvage vehicle has likely sustained a large amount of damage. It could’ve gone through a fire or flood, or been involved in a major accident. While people may not be in a position to put money into a salvaged car, it’s important to remember that they can be fixed and should not be considered as scrap. Damaged cars that aren’t meant for the junkyard typically include:

  • Levels of damage that can be repaired through new parts or extensive bodywork, both of which may or may not be cost-effective compared to the value of the vehicle.
  • Some paperwork may be included or you could locate a previous owner to establish title and registration history. 
  • The car has inherent value either due to its rarity or age.
  • Parts are often useable in a salvage car.

Dealing With A Junk Car

If you’ve determined that you are, in fact, dealing with a scrap car, what are you supposed to do with it? Many people let them sit in their driveway, garage, or even their backyard for far too long, only devaluing the car even further due to deterioration.

The better option is selling it to a local junkyard or using an online cash for junk cars service.

Junkyards and these services specialize in purchasing scrap cars so that you don’t have to deal with them any longer. While you could spend time parting it out on your own with varying levels of success these are the most likely outcomes.

To recap:

Scrap cars are bought based on the vehicle’s weight by junkyards and online services who buy junk cars. These cars have no value beyond it’s weight.

Salvage cars can be parted out and the valuable parts resold. You can expect to sell these type of vehicles for a few extra dollars because of that.