Each year in America, approximately 15 million cars become no longer usable. When this happens they have to come off the road. But what happens to them next?
Most head to the scrap yard or are recycled. In fact, the US recycles 12 million cars each year – the highest car recycling rate in the world!
This is great for the environment but not so great for your wallet. One of the most frustrating things about scrapping your car is losing a valuable asset and then having to buy a new one. It can be an expensive time for anyone.
So what if you could salvage some cash from it before you get rid of it?
Well, you could! And we’re not talking about spare change you find in the glove compartment. There is actually a fair value amount of value in junk car parts if you know what you’re looking for.
That’s where we can help. Read on to find out about the car parts that could make you money when junking your old car.
How to Junk a Car
If your car is no longer road-worthy, you have several options.
You could donate it to charity, to an engineering school like the University of Southern California, or to a local arts project or playground. But these great options won’t make you any money back.
That’s why a lot of people look at selling a car once it’s scrap to make some money back. There are several ways to junk your car and make money.
Scrap yards will pay a fixed cash price to take a junk car off your hands. This is often a tempting option as you only have to do one trip and they’ll do the rest. For more information on what to expect when selling your salvage car for cash, check out our handy guide.
You should always check out the reputation of a scrapyard before using it. LA has a history of illegal scrapyards making millions of dollars off peoples’ junk cars.
If you sell your car in one piece you might not make as much money off it. Selling off car parts individually could actually make you more money. This depends on a few things.
The first thing to check out is whether your car has any parts of value. Not all junk car parts are as valuable as others.
Secondly, check out the condition of these individual parts. For some valuable car parts, their condition will matter less than others.
If a scrap merchant wants them for their materials then a bit of wear and tear is fine. If they’re looking for working parts to repurpose these obviously need to be in decent order.
But all of this is no use if you don’t know what to look out for. So, when you’re junking a car which parts hold the most value?
1. Junk Car Parts Made of Platinum
Platinum is part of the precious metal family, which means it holds a decent economic value. In fact, in 2018 one kilogram of platinum had a market value of $28,960. So now you probably understand how the LA Platinum Triangle got its name!
Platinum is valuable because it’s an extremely versatile mental. It is extremely dense and easy to draw out into thin wires. And it stands the test of time, resisting corrosion.
You can also reuse platinum multiple times without weakening the metal, which means it holds its value well. Any scrap merchant would be able to use or sell on platinum for reuse without difficulty.
So where can you find platinum in your car?
Your catalytic converter is a good place to find platinum. The role of a catalytic converter is to reduce your car’s emissions of pollution and toxic gases. So you’ll find yours attached near the exhaust pipe.
Every car made after 1974 should have a catalytic converter, although thieves often target them so make sure you keep an eye on yours. You don’t want someone else stealing off with it and taking your cash!
Not all converters use platinum. Some use Rhodium or Palladium as an alternative but these are still valuable metals. So it’s always worth trying to sell your catalytic converter separately from the rest of your car.
And shop around. Different merchants will offer you different values for your platinum. Keep an eye on the market value to help you broker a good deal.
2. Iron and Steel
Iron and steel are other materials that a merchant can recycle from your car.
There are 12 AISI manufacturers of these metals in California state. But scrap metal can undercut them, so it’ll often bring in a good price at the scrap yard.
These metals don’t hold as much economic value as precious metals, like platinum or rhodium. In 2017, one tonne of steel was worth $570. But on the plus side, there’s more of it in your car.
Steel or steel alloys are used to make most of the parts of your car. This includes the car’s bodywork, frame, chassis, and hub caps. This is because steel is extremely strong and durable, making it perfect for the job.
You’ll mainly find iron in your engine. In fact, some engines can be worth nearly $5000.
Older cars may use iron in other areas, as it used to be the main metal for car manufacturers. Because it’s extremely heavy, steel has taken over in recent years.
Stripping your car of these parts might sound like a big job, but you’ll get more for them individually.
3. Aluminum and Copper
These are the last lot of valuable metals you can find in your car. And they have very different properties to steel or iron.
In fact, aluminum is valuable because it is extremely lightweight, so it doesn’t weigh down your car. But it also plays an important role in reducing fuel consumptions as well as your car’s emissions of pollutants.
You can find aluminum in your car’s engine and in the radiators and cylinder heads. You’ll also find it in the pistons and wheel rims.
In contrast, copper is an extremely good conductor of heat and electricity. This means you often find it in your car’s radiators and wiring, as well as in the alternators and starters. Some engine parts also use copper.
A lot of different industries use copper so it holds its value well and is definitely worth stripping from your car before you scrap it.
4. The Battery
Now we get into specific car parts that can hold value over time. Batteries are easy to find and remove. It just requires a few hand tools.
And car batteries can add a little cash to your ‘new car’ fund.
A brand new battery is expensive to buy new. A regular battery costs anything between $50 and $120. But premium batteries are more expensive at between $90 and $200.
This means a lot of people are always on the lookout for good quality second-hand batteries. So keeping your car battery in good shape could be worth your while.
If there is nothing wrong with your car battery then you could sell it on for a fair amount. Or, if you’re buying a secondhand car, you might want to hold onto your old battery. Reusing this battery could save you money in the long run.
It’s always worth checking what type of car battery you have. These might include:
- Ignition batteries
- Wet cell batteries
- Valve-regulated lead-acid batteries
- Lithium-Ion batteries
- Deep cycle batteries
Some types of car batteries will be more valuable than others. For example, batteries that power larger vehicles are usually more expensive.
And there are plenty of second-hand car battery shops around Los Angeles. Use them to your advantage and check out the market value for your battery before you sell it. This will ensure you get a fair price!
5. Electronic Installations
Most cars nowadays come with lots of electronic installations included. But just because the engine’s stopped running it doesn’t mean these parts have.
A lot of people who scrap their cars ignore the economic value in each of these parts. This is mainly because they don’t understand how easy it is to remove and refit them. Don’t let yourself be one of them!
Stereos, for example, are easy to remove and refit. This is why thieves often target them.
Basic stereos will bring in less cash, but every little helps. You can get a good price by selling them online, although this will be a bit more hassle for you. Secondhand electronic stores will also take them off your hands for cash.
If you have a custom stereo in your car this can bring in a lot more money. Make sure to note the specifications and brands of any stereo as this will help you market it better to potential buyers.
Another valuable appliance is a GPS system.
And we’re not talking about plug-in systems that you mount on your dashboard. A lot of new cars are available with built-in GPS units but these often bump up the price. So getting one secondhand and installing it is a tempting offer for a lot of buyers.
Different designs will fit some cars better than others, so it could take you a bit of time to find the right buyer. But this is an in-demand piece of tech. Don’t let it go to waste on the scrap heap.
6. Junk Car Parts to Save From the Scrap Heap: Tires and Bumpers
If you’re stripping your car down, these are two key players to hold onto. They’re some of the easiest parts of a car to replace but buying them new can be expensive.
These car parts are also extremely easy to remove from your vehicle. Just make sure you do it carefully to avoid damaging them.
Anyone buying secondhand tires or bumpers needs them to be in good shape. If yours are in poor condition they won’t bring you very much.
To assess your tires’ condition, look at the tread. New tires have around 8mm of tread. And mechanics recommend replacing them when they wear down to 3mm.
So tires with between 8mm and 5mm of tread should fetch a good price. This is especially true of tires for bigger vehicles, such as SUVs. It’s expensive to buy tires for these cars new and they often wear through them quickly.
People also check for damage on the tires’ sidewalls. These reveal any evidence of damage or a collision. If there is anything indicating this you’ll struggle to find a buyer.
If you can provide an MOT for your tires this will help you bump up the price.
And speaking of bumps, let’s take a look at what car bumpers could add to the pot. Getting dings or scratches in your bumper is easily done and bumpers take the first hit in most minor traffic collisions. So they’re often in high demand.
A secondhand bumper can bring in $50 to $300. It’s also easy to judge their condition by sight so people will happily buy a secondhand one.
The chances of selling your bumper are higher if you have a popular model of car. Having a neutral-toned bumper will also help as this makes it easier to match to a new car.
The Bottom Line
Salvaging junk car parts might seem like a big task but in this case, time is money.
A scrap merchant will give you a fixed price for your junk car. But selling parts of your car off separately will give always beat their price.
So it’s worth checking to see if you have any valuable car parts before dumping the whole thing at a scrapyard. And now you know exactly what to look for!
If you’re going to scrap an old car you should also check out what to do before you take it to the scrapyard. For more tips on making the most of junking your car, check out our blog or get in touch today. We’re here to help!