Who Buys Junk Cars?

Dustin Hawley | Feb 28, 2021

Many Americans have junk cars taking up space on their properties for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s an old beater you can’t seem to get rid of, or that project car that you just haven’t been able to get around to, you may find yourself in need of someone who will take a junk car off your hands. So where do you turn? Who buys junk cars?

who buys junk cars

Believe it or not, lots of people (and organizations) buy junk cars. But you can’t just bring your junk car to a regular dealership and trade it in for cash or credit. So how do you go about the process? 

This guide will explore some of the places where you can find buyers for junk cars and detail how the process works depending on a given vehicle's quality and what you are looking for in exchange. Let’s get started!

Why Buy Junk Cars in the First Place?

In truth, there are numerous people and organizations who are in the market for junk cars. However, it all depends on how you qualify the term “junk”.

For some, junk cars are used vehicles past their prime, but may still have some utility. They are coveted for either their scrap metal or as a backup vehicle. 

Others think a vehicle can only be deemed junk if it’s inoperable and literally can’t drive anymore, or if the body appears to be falling apart at the seams. Regardless of its condition, there’s always someone willing to buy a used or junk car. You just have to know where to look and who’s most likely to purchase them. 

Junk cars are generally categorized as cars that can’t run any longer or are so worn down that they lack aesthetic value. Vehicles in this condition are only of interest for their raw materials or parts. Junk cars that could be operable again with some repairs will attract a different demographic of potential buyers. 

Places/Organizations That Buy Junk Cars

Let’s break down some of the places and organizations you can contact if you’re looking to sell a junk car.

Classified/Auction Websites

Start by visiting classified or auction sites, as they are the modern digital equivalents of newspaper sales pages that used to be popular in years past. Common examples include Craigslist and eBay, as these websites have lots of traffic and are ideal places to sell just about anything.

While it’s true that you can sell junk cars for cash using those platforms, these sites do require you to handle the transaction independently. This includes taking care of shipping or transporting the vehicle to the buyer. You’ll need a little negotiation skill to make sure you get a reasonable deal, so remember only to finalize a sale if you communicate with the buyer and trust their intentions.

Auto Salvage Companies

Auto salvage companies are also a great place to start when looking for junk car buyers. These are usually small organizations that take junked or heavily used cars and resell them to scrap companies or other buyers. Alternatively, they may also be a commercial company that breaks down junk cars for their valuable parts.

The benefit of contacting an auto salvage company is that they’re often quick to act. You can usually have your car picked up in less than 48 hours or so after receiving an initial offer. You’ll also get a cash payment from the salvage company upon pick up. Just be sure that you contact a reputable auto salvage company with good reviews, which should ensure you receive a fair offer.

Scrap Yards

Naturally, junk car owners may begin their efforts by contacting a scrap yard. These establishments often determine your car’s value by its weight, as they purchase scrap vehicles intending to fully break or meltdown its components for raw materials.

Scrap yards are quick and efficient ways to get rid of junk cars for at least a little bit of cash. But keep in mind, using different valuation methods (more on them below) could lead to you overestimating your car's value before deciding on the best option for your vehicle.

Regardless, scrap yards are great buyers if you have a heavy vehicle or perhaps a junk truck that you want to get rid of - due to their weight-based valuation method.

Private Buyers

If your junk car is worn down and heavily used but is maybe a classic or otherwise desired model, you may be able to find a private buyer. Car repair and refurbishing is a booming hobby that auto enthusiasts practice throughout the country.

Therefore, you might strongly consider seeking a private buyer for your junked but previously high-value car instead of just scrapping it. They often associate a higher value to the vehicle than a scrapyard, but the trick is finding private buyers. 

Used Car Dealerships

Used car dealerships don’t typically take junk cars. After all, they need operable, in-demand vehicles in order to turn a profit.

But some used car dealerships do present some options, and specific ones have strong partnerships with local auto body shops. They just might be willing to take a junk car off your hands (for a heavily discounted price, mind you) since they can repair it to working condition, or perhaps have a discount with their partnered mechanics.

Yet keep in mind that this method depends on having a suitably used car dealership in your area with these types of relationships with their local partners. Do some research before counting on this approach as a viable selling strategy.

Auto Body Shops

Lastly, mechanic shops sometimes buy junk cars… or at least their parts. 

If you are willing to dismantle your car progressively and sell any major parts that are in good working condition, body shops and other automotive organizations are always looking for components they can use for their own endeavors, so in the right situation, it could be a potential option to offload your junk car.

However, dismantling your car does require some mechanical expertise and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. With this in mind, this is not the fastest of the listed methods, nor the easiest in terms of manual labor.

Determining How to Sell a Junk Car

When you’re looking for someone to buy your junk car, you’ll first need to determine your car’s value accurately. There are a few key ways to do this:

  • Kelly Blue Book is one such resource. Just enter the details of your car, such as the make and model or the miles driven, as well as your zip code, and the website’s algorithms produce an approximate value that can give you a ballpark estimate to use when negotiating. Even better, KBB has connections with local auto dealers, so you can sometimes use this resource to find a quick cash deal for your junk car.
  • You can also use the NADA guides. This resource is similar to KBB, but it focuses much more on trade-in or retail deals that can prove very useful for junk car merchants.

Above all else, use common sense when valuing your junk car. It’s much easier to find a buyer when you price the vehicle fairly or at a discounted rate, especially if your primary goal is to simply get the car out of your garage or off your property.


While it may seem overwhelming at first, there are actually many people and numerous organizations in the market to purchase junk cars for one reason or another. Much like any car buying experience, the trick is finding the right buyer and the right price. Remember the above resources and ideas outlined in this guide, and you’re sure to make a sale in no time.

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