If you’ve received one or more quotes from junkyards for your unwanted car, you might wonder if you’re getting the best scrap car price possible. Selling an unwanted car to a junkyard doesn’t happen very often to the average consumer, so they have very little experience to rely on when determining the value of their junk car. Unlike the new or used car markets, there are no published prices for junk cars by make, model, year, or condition.
How much is my Junk car worth?
Whether you call it “selling a car for junk value” or “automotive recycling,” this really is the final stage of a car. Auto recycling is very literal since some of the metals can find their way into new cars.
How Scrap Metal Prices Affect Selling Your Car for Scrap
When you decide it’s time to sell your car for scrap, odds are you’re hoping for a little bit of a payout. But, unlike the price of used cars which only fluctuates a few percent up or down over the year, the amount you can get for your scrap car varies wildly (especially lately).
Why is that?
To get an idea of why scrap car prices change the way they do, you need to look at where the value comes in for a car at each stage of the automobile lifecycle. A used car is still a car. There’s a minimum value in the fact that it’s a useful tool. You can drive it.
A newer or rarer wrecked or broken-down car can be repaired and regain some utility and value. Even newer, low-mileage or really desirable cars that are mostly totaled have value in their parts. It’s just math. One wrecked car with good mechanics plus one broken-down car with bad mechanics equals one good, driving car.
The common thread in all of the above scenarios is that those cars are worth more than the basic sum of their parts, or at least what their parts are made of. But, if you have an old car that’s not rare or exotic, has high mileage and whose body and mechanics are shot, your car has little to no value as a car. It’s only really worth the metals it’s made from. That’s where recycling comes into play.
How are scrap car prices determined?
Scrap value of a car is intrinsic to the price of metals. Your car stops competing with other cars for dollars. The amount of money you can get is now decided by the current prices of metals from other sources all over the world. And, since metals are commodities, prices go up and down every day, sometimes by huge amounts.
Lately, we’ve been in a bit of a scrap metal rut. Actually, since 2012, scrap metal prices have tanked. There was a bit of a short-lived rebound in early 2015, but that ended as quickly as it began. In January 2012, the price of steel was $544 per metric ton. In March 2016 it dropped to $90 per ton. At time of writing, US Shredded Steel Scrap price is $195 per metric ton.
Don’t forget, your car isn’t just a hunk of steel. It’s a hunk of other metals, too. In terms of scrap, it’s a similar story for aluminum, copper and iron.
The average passenger vehicle (car, truck, van, SUV) weighs about 4,000-pounds. According to the World Steel Association, of those 4,000-pounds, 55-percent or 2,200-pounds (which is almost exactly one metric ton) come from steel. According to the Aluminum Association, that same car boasts roughly 330-pounds of aluminum.
How Junk Car Metal Prices Affect Selling Your Car for Scrap / Junk
Let’s say you have a completely average vehicle. It has one metric ton of scrap steel. That’s $195.
Your 327-pounds of aluminum at $0.55 per pound add up to $180. Add in another $100 for the handful of other recyclable materials like the lead in the battery and tiny bit of platinum in the catalytic converter.
Your completely average, non-running junk car has a scrap value of about $475 by weight. Great. Not a bad payday. But, that’s just the value of the metals. It doesn’t include any of the labor or costs that are involved in actually recycling the car.
Your car doesn’t drive, so it needs to be towed to the salvage yard. That’s $100. Then, you need to remove and dispose of anything that’s not recyclable. Carpet, interior, lights, fluids and plastic trim all need to go. Don’t forget to separate the metals. Finally, you shred the body and frame into manageable bits of steel.
That all takes significant time and labor, which cost money for the recycler. Now your $475 of metal is really only worth about $100. Depending on the location and weight of your car, that number can fall even further. Scrap compact cars may only net $50.
Why are scrap metal prices so volatile and how do they control junk car buyers?
That’s a question whose answer lies in the intricacies of global economics. In the early 2010s, a few countries, China especially, were building like crazy. They were using quite a lot of steel. So, the international demand was high. So high, in fact, it was out-pacing production. That lead to record high steel prices for both billet and scrap steel.
Recently, most of that production fervor has tempered. Demand for steel has decreased dramatically. When China was buying up huge amounts of billet steel, countries like Turkey were buying most of the scrap steel coming out of the US. Now, China is still producing huge amounts of steel. Only, today, they’re not using it. It’s being sold (sometimes at a loss) to former buyers of US scrap steel.
Steel and oil boom or bust together.
The oil industry uses huge amounts of steel. So, when oil is high, so is steel. That relationship is partially what’s causing the slight rebound in steel prices of late. US oil and gas production is increasing, thanks to the huge oil fields in the Dakotas and other spots around the country. Will this lead to the high steel prices seen in 2010 to 2012? It’s too early to tell. We’ll have to wait and see.
If you have a damaged, wrecked or broken-down car that’s relatively new, you’re in luck. We buy junk cars online. The value of your car isn’t entirely based on scrap prices. We’ll make you a guaranteed offer for your car that’s based on the year, make, model, mileage, and condition. If you have a scrap car, we may still make you an offer for your car. If you just want the car gone, we’re a great option for you.
We will pick up your car for free and pay you right there, on the spot. Whatever car you have, just click the button below and get a guaranteed offer for your car, fast.