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7 Junkyard Scams and Tips on How to Avoid Them

7 Junkyard Scams and Tips on How to Avoid Them

Selling your old car is a good way to get some quick cash in your pocket. By doing this you are also clearing out a space in your garage or driveway. However, there are a lot of scammers who are more than willing to take advantage and trick unwitting customers. Here are 7 junkyard scams and tips on how to avoid them!

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Some vehicle salvage yards do not have the best reputation. Most often they carry out shady deals to scam people. Just like any business, some are more ethical and honest than others. It is always best to remember that you have a choice on which junkyard your car ends up with. Knowing some of the common scams during the process of scrapping your car will make you a well informed seller. Knowing what to expect will help you negotiate better or choose another junkyard elsewhere.

Not many car sellers have vast experience in dealing with local junkyards. If you have always traded your old cars in when you purchase a new one, scrapping your car to a yard is an unfamiliar territory to you. To help you get the appropriate worth of your junk car, have a look through this list of unscrupulous scams some junkyards might attempt on car sellers.

  • No Transfer of Title

When selling your car to an auto junkyard, it is a requirement to sign over the title for the car for legal purposes. Without doing this, the transaction will not be considered legal. The car title is not the same as your car registration. If you fail to cancel the registration of your car on time, you will be reliable for anything that happens to the vehicle even after it has been hauled away. Some junkyards promise to take care of all the paperwork needed to transfer the car’s registration, but later will send you an invoice for storing your vehicle in their property. This bill often comes with a collection notice and a threat to report the issue to a credit-reporting agency. This is one of the reasons why it is best to deal with the registration paperwork yourself. 

  • Delayed Payment

Never allow the junkyard to tow away your car without paying you the full amount you agreed on. Once your car is taken away from your possession, you probably have no document that guarantees how much you have agreed to be paid for your old car. The junkyard may then charge you extra fees, which you did not agree on, like fees for towing your car or for storage if you insist on ending the deal and having your car returned. This case could cost you more money than what your car is actually worth. Junkyard representatives showing up without a payment in hand is also another trick you should watch out for.


  • Fly-By-Night Haulers

If the auto junkyard is the ultimate destination for your old or damaged car, it will probably be towed there on a flatbed wrecker. As not all junkyards have their own towing vehicles, some may hire tow trucks to transport your old car to their yard. Be very cautious if you agreed to be paid in cash for your junk car. If for some reason the truck driver tells you upon inspection that your car’s worth is less than the initial estimate, do not just give in and fall for this scam. In this case, tell the driver that you would want to call off the deal and you will find another yard to sell your car to.


Another common scam of fly-by-night tow operators is to charge you money for the tow even though the junkyard has paid them already. If you are not offered the same deal as what you have agreed, phone the junkyard immediately. Do not allow the tow truck driver to take your car unless everything has been settled.


  • Changes in the Car Price

Continuing with the 7 junkyard scams and tips on how to avoid them in the world of junk cars, is the sudden changing of the buying price. Junk car sellers often ask for a quote for their vehicle. Some junk cars quote a great price and everything seems to go well at the outset. However, when the cash is actually collected, the junkyard changes the price. This can be absolutely  frustrating, especially when the difference in price is not just a tiny fraction but a completely different amount! 


Some dishonest junkyards charge you hidden costs and extra charges at the last minute, so their scam will not seem downright obvious. Before you even know it, you are being offered a significantly less amount of money than what your old car is actually worth. In this case, do not feel obliged to just give in, because of all the hassle you have been through. You always have the option to walk away and find a better deal at a more reputable junkyard.


  • Valuing Your Car at Zero

Some junkyards do a dishonest appraisal of vehicles by telling you that your car is good for nothing, but they will take it away for free. It may seem like they are doing you a favor. Trying to remove your old, unwanted car from your parking area may save you some space. While it may seem like a favorable idea to let the junkyard pick up your car for free, you may have been tricked to think that your car has zero value. 


Even if a car is old and damaged, it is still worth some money. Even a car that has been abandoned and left to rust for years still has value for its scrap metal. Your vehicle could probably be worth so much more. For most times, buyers will try to undervalue the car you are selling to make you think you are getting a great deal by having it collected for free. Any junkyard who tells you that your car is worth nothing is not worth trusting. Look for other yards to sell your old car. Getting a few bucks for your old car is better than getting nothing at all. 


  • Checks That Bounce

Some auto junkyards will try to issue payment through checks. However, some find out after they go to the bank to cash out the check that  it is for no good. Unfortunately, there are a lot of consumers who fall victim to this scam. When selling your old car, opt for cash payments instead of checks to avoid this scenario.


  • Worthless Free Prizes

The next on this list of the 7 junkyard scams and tips on how to avoid them is bad practice. Shady junkyards would try to conceal the actual amount of money in the deals they make by adding a lot of extra offers or by giving unclear estimates that are dependent on the inspections of your car. It is very important to get an exact quote of the value of your junk car before you decide to have it picked up and taken to the scrap yard. Once you have the quote, stick to it no matter what.

Some junkyards have very enticing non-cash offers to lure customers. Most of these offers are in the form of coupons. It is only after you have made a deal with them that you find out that the offers are worth nothing. They are either subject to some difficult terms and conditions and short-term validity and won’t save you any money. You never even get a chance to use them.

Helpful Tips on How to Avoid Junkyard Scams

To avoid being a victim of auto junkyard scams, such as the ones we have listed above in our list 7 junkyard scams and tips on how to avoid them, there are some helpful tips to remember.


Make sure that the junkyard has a license to operate.

For the most obvious reason, this is perhaps the first thing you should look for when choosing the best junkyard to sell your car. A trustworthy business will never be hesitant to provide this information. If you find out that their license is expired, or if they do not have a license at all, that is a warning sign. 


Ask about the towing cost. 

When you are inquiring about a quote for your junker, make sure to ask if the cost of the tow is included in the amount. Some junk yards will not include the coast of the tow and charge you when you receive your cash. Reputable junk yards will disclose the breakdown of the costs right at the beginning so there would be no form of misunderstanding for both parties. This is why you should not forget to ask about the towing costs when requesting a quote to avoid disappointment. 


Beware of junkyards that put you into too much pressure.

If in any circumstance you feel pressured by the junkyard to sell your car to them, this might be a red flag. A good business will never make you feel pressured. Rather, they will give you considerable time to make a well-informed decision. They will also answer any type of query you have. 


If a junkyard puts you under pressure, it might be a tactic to get you to accept the offer they give you, even if it is way less than your old car’s value.


Always ask how you are getting paid.

The best way to get paid by a junkyard is cash. A check, even when given on time, could bounce once you take it to the bank. It is always a good idea to clarify right at the very beginning how they will pay you. Never sign over the title of your vehicle before you receive the payment, because in the event that they won’t pay you correctly, you won’t be able to do anything because you do not hold any documents that you own your car. 


Be aware of significant changes in offers.

Some junk yards will do their best to get you to sell your car to them. They will give you an offer which could be better than any other offer you received. Unfortunately, they make significant changes when it is pay out time. 


Some of the reasons they may give is that they did not expect your car to be in a much worse condition. In this case, make sure to ask for more clarification regarding the discrepancy. 

Remove your car plates and cancel your registration. 

Before you sell your car, make sure that you have removed the plates and have cancelled the registration. Do not depend on the junkyard to do this job for you because if they fail to do this, anything that happens to your car even after you sold it is still your legal responsibility. In a worse case scenario, the junkyard may charge you for storing your vehicle in their space.


Trust your instinct.

If you feel in your gut that something is shady about the junkyard that you are dealing with, that feeling might very well be true. Be wise and trust your instincts. Take time to do your research about reputable auto junk yards, get multiple quotes, and assess the true value of your junk car. Be assertive and don’t ever be afraid to walk away when you feel like you are being cheated. 

Conclusion on 7 Junkyard Scams and Tips on How to Avoid Them

To protect yourself from being scammed by dishonest junkyards when you sell your junk car, it is best to be aware of the common tactics that some unethical businesses do. It would also be helpful if you do a little research of different junkyards near you, read customer reviews, and get multiple quotes for your vehicle. Being well informed and wise is the best way to counter anyone who would try to scam you. Never be afraid to ask questions and clarifications, and even walk away if you feel like they are taking advantage of you.

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