It’s a sad reality, but the majority of cars on the road are destined for the scrapheap. After years of patch-ups and fixes, there comes a point when the cost of keeping a car on the road outweighs what it’s worth – and sending it to the scrapyard remains the only viable option.

Provided you pick a reputable scrapyard, the process is straightforward, and you don’t have to be there when your beloved car meets its maker.

There are, however, certain things you need to know before deciding to scrap your car. In this guide, we take a closer look at the ins and outs of car scrappage, from the laws surrounding vehicle recycling to how scrapyards calculate the price they pay for your scrap metal and plastic.

Click the links below to find the answer to your query quickly, or read on for our complete guide on how to scrap your car.

How much cash can I expect when scrapping my car?

It’s easy to assume that two tons of metal, plastic and mechanical components would fetch a decent price at a scrapyard, but this isn’t the case. Because the value of scrap fluctuates in line with the global price of recycled aluminium, copper and steel, the price you can expect at the scrapyard depends on how the market is performing at the time.

Get lucky and your car could fetch a decent price for its scrap parts; this is normally during a period when materials are in short supply. Time it badly, however, and some dealers may even try to charge you the cost of taking the car off your hands – which can feel like a real slap in the face after years of happy motoring.

While this might seem a bitter pill to swallow, the reality is that two million cars are scrapped in the UK each year, leading to a surplus of materials and a slump in demand. And as the number of cars on the road continues to grow at a massive rate (an average of 600,000 per year), scrapyards are bound to get busier too, meaning scrap prices are unlikely to rise.

Of course, there’s more to car scrappage than these global metal valuations, and dealers will take other things into account when totting up how much you’re owed. Here’s a list of factors that will influence the scrap price for your old car:

  • Age
  • Weight of vehicle and scrap parts
  • Make and model of vehicle
  • Condition of metal and parts
  • Pick up or delivery

Bear in mind that all prices are based on the tonne-weight of your vehicle, so you’ll always get more when trading in a 4X4 over a compact city car. If your car’s in a decent condition, you can expect around £30-£250 depending on its weight and the health of the scrap market. If it’s showing signs of its age (rust, dents, scratches etc.) you could be offered as low as £0 for the dealer to take it off your hands.

car scrap yard uk

What should I look out for when finding a reputable scrap dealer?

While there are thousands of reputable scrap merchants in the UK that will recycle your car responsibly through the right channels, others are less scrupulous. If you want to avoid a fine and make sure your old car is recycled properly, it’s important to do your research and find a scrapyard registered as an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF).

Under EU laws, ATFs are the only scrap recycling centres legally allowed to process cars. That’s because they have specialist equipment and training in recycling hazardous parts and materials such as batteries, oil and other engine fluids.

When your car is scrapped at an ATF, you’ll receive a Certificate of Destruction (CoD). ATF-approved scrapyards are the only sites that can legally tender this documentation, which is needed to register your car as off-the-road with the DVLA.

The first thing to do when looking at scrapyards is check that they have ATF licensing. Recycling your car anywhere else is a criminal offence which could land you with a fine.

Other things to look out for when finding a scrap dealer include:

  • Too-good-to-be-true scrap valuations – If you receive a scrap quote for your car that’s considerably higher than others, you should be asking why. Always compare scrap quotes to make sure you aren’t being led down the garden path.
  • Misrepresented Certificate of Destruction – A CoD is only ever called a CoD, and that’s all the DVLA will accept as proof that your car has been responsibly recycled. If a scrap dealer offers an alternative such as ‘Certificate of Collection’ or ‘Destruction Certificate’, run a mile.
  • Cash in hand deals for your scrap – The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act October 2013 states that it’s illegal to accept cash for scrap in England and Wales, so never accept money in this way. Dealers must pay through a bank transfer or cheque.

Choosing a reputable scrap dealer isn’t difficult, but make sure you do your research and look carefully at what they’re offering before taking things further.

How can I get the best price when scrapping my car?

If you’re keen to squeeze maximum revenue from your car, there are a few things you can do to guarantee the best scrappage price. Here are our suggestions for finding a good deal:

  • Get quotes from at least three scrap dealers – Unless you want rid quickly, never settle for the first scrapyard you find. Instead, get quotes from a selection of different dealers, and don’t be afraid to haggle on price by pitting one against the other. You’ll soon find a reasonable ballpark, and will know if someone’s taking you for a ride.
  • Use the web to track average scrap prices – If you’re in no rush to send your car to the heap, use the web to stay abreast of the scrap market and find the opportune moment in which to get down to the dealers. There are lots of resources online that can help you compare, track and find the best scrap prices, including removemycar, which even tells you where in the country is the best place for scrapping your car.
  • Clean up your car before visiting the scrapyard – It may sound counterintuitive when your car is facing the crusher, but first impressions count in scrap dealerships. If you can remove small dents, scratches and rust spots from the paintwork, your car could fetch a better price. Remember – every penny counts.
  • Consider dismantling your car for parts – If you’re savvy about cars and have time on your side, it may be worth dismantling your old car to sell individual components as spares. Selling parts could fetch more money than scrapping the whole car, but if you take this avenue you need to know what you’re doing and be prepared to go the distance.

The key takeaway when it comes to getting the best scrap price for your car is to do your research, know the market and be prepared to haggle if a dealer is trying to pull the wool on price.

car scrap yard crushed

What scrappage schemes are available in 2018?

Since the massive success of the government’s Vehicle Scrappage Scheme (VSS) in 2009, some car manufacturers have taken this model and used it to get UK motorists buying new cars on their forecourts.

Manufacturer scrappage schemes offer drivers money off a new car when they choose to scrap their old one. These savings vary from dealer to dealer, but many stretch into the thousands – giving motorists a good incentive if they’re interested in buying a new car.

To access these scrappage savings, your old car must meet certain criteria set by the manufacturer. For instance, Volkswagen offers discounts for customers scrapping old diesel cars, while Peugeot offers money for those scrapping a car that’s over seven years old.

As of 2018, over twenty car manufacturers are offering some form of vehicle scrappage scheme, so you can drive away a new car while scrapping your old one. Check out this comprehensive Autocar guide to 2018 scrappage schemes to find out more.

At Holts, our practical DIY car maintenance products help keep your car going longer before its due for the scrapheap – no matter its age or condition. For more information, head to the homepage.