How to Scrap a Car or Truck


Scrapping a car is the term used to describe taking a car to the Metal Recycler. Metal Recyclers will pay you for junk cars, trucks, and vans, as well as other types of metal, which can be a great and easy way to get rid of a junk car.

In today's market, any little bit of extra money can help and scrapping cars can actually provide a decent return for the amount of effort it takes. It is also possible to find people who have multiple old cars just sitting in their yard, who will be more than happy just to see them gone.

Since metal recylcers pay you pennies per pound, it is important to understand how to scrap a car, so that you get the most money out of the junk vehicle. There are some parts that are worth more to the scrap yard, so it is worth it to take the time to remove them.

Things You'll Need

  • Truck
  • Jack and Jack Stands
  • Strong Chain
  • Socket Set
  • Wire Cutters
  • Pry Bar
  • Reciprocating Saw(SawzAll)
  • ComeAlong Wench
  • Tow Dolly, Tow Bars, or other Tow Trailer
  • Before you jump in a actually get to work, it is important to consider whether it is worth it to junk the car. Any running and driving car is almost always going to be worth more as a car than it would be as scrap metal.

    So, if it runs and drives, do not scrap it, but instead put it on Craigslist for $500, as this is a fair price and more than you would get from scrapping it.

  • Next, spend some time calling the local scrap yards and metal recylcers to find out how much they pay for junk cars. They should give you a price per 100 pounds. If the scrap yards says it is a set fee, look somewhere else, because you will not get the most money this way.

  • While talking with the scrap yard, it is important to ask them their requirements on the gas tank and fluids. Some do not require that you drain the fluids at all, while others require that the gas tank be removed or just drained. Ask them if they have any other requirements, such as removing glass.

  • Before doing anything, it is a good idea to pull the car into the open if it is in the woods and if at all possible, place it on a piece of concrete or asphalt while you work.

  • Inspect the tires and fill them with air. It will probably also be necessary to jack the car up and place it on jack stands. Remember to be very careful when working under the car, paying special attention to the tires, as dry rotted tires could pop.

  • If the scrap yard requires it, drain or remove the gas tank and other fluids, like oil and transmission fluid.

  • Next remove the starter, alternator, and any other electric motors. Set these to the side, because the junk yard will pay extra for electric motors.

  • Remove the battery and set it aside, as many scrap yards will pay a set fee for batteries.

  • Locate and remove the catalytic converter, which is attached to the exhaust pipe between the engine and the muffler. Usually the catalytic converter is located under the passenger seat, especially on older cars. Scrap yards usually pay between $10 and $50 for a catalytic converter, so it is definitely worth removing.

    The easiest way to remove a catalytic converter is to use a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade. This will easily cut through most exhaust pipes. Make sure you cut at a point were there is just one layer of exhaust pipe and don't worry about getting too close to the catalytic converter.

    It may also be possible to pry the catalytic converter out with a large crow bar, breaking the welds, but this will not always work. Removing the bolts is also an option, but this can be very difficult, if not impossible, due to the high heats and age of most exhaust systems.

  • At this point, the car is basically ready to go. It is a good idea to see if there are any salvageable parts or expensive parts that you could sell separately. For example, auto glass can be very expensive, so if you see a curved window, it may be a good idea to remove it and try to sell it separately.

    If you have the time and knowledge, you will also get more money by removing the engine and transmission. This is not necessary, but since most engines and transmissions are made out of cast aluminum, you will get a lot more if you take it apart and separate the aluminum.

  • When you are ready to load the car onto the tow dolly, attach the wench to the truck or tow dolly and make sure the car is in neutral and the parking brake is not set. Using the come along wench, pull the car up onto the tow dolly, making sure its wheels line up.

  • Make sure to bring your tire iron with you when you goto the scrap yard. While waiting in line to be weighed in, you can begin loosening the lug nuts on the scrap car. When it is your time to get weighed in, ask where you need to take the car, catalytic converter, batteries, and electric motors.

    The scale master will direct you to a crane, which will pick the car up off of the tow dolly. However, you will probably have to take the electric motors, batteries, and catalytic converter to a different part of the yard, so make sure to ask about them.

  • Park next to the crane and finish loosening the tires. If you can remove the straps without the car rolling off of the tow dolly, do so. Otherwise, have the crane grab and hold the car while you remove the straps. Finally, once the car is in the air, remove all of the tires and place them in your truck.

  • Once you have dropped off the car, electric motors, and catalytic converter, you will need to get weighed out. They will give you a final receipt, which you will need to take to the cashiers office to redeem.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you do not have the keys, you may have to break the steering column, so that you can turn the wheels.
  • If you have the time, removing the engine and transmission is worth it. These are often made of cast aluminum, which will net you more than the car alone.
  • The price varies depending on the weight, but for most vehicles, you should at least get between $150 and $250.
  • You will need a tire iron at the scrap yard and you can begin loosening the tires while you are waiting in line at the scrap yard.
  • As when working on or under any vehicle, make sure to scotch up the wheels and take extra precautions that the car does not fall or roll over.
  • Be careful when loading to ensure that the car is securely attached to the tow dolly.
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