How to scrap your car: all you need to know

When repairs cost more than the value of your car, or what you can afford, it can be worth considering scrapping your car. If you’re contemplating cutting your losses you’ll need our handy guide with what you need to know and what scrap car prices to expect.

Scrapping your car is usually a last resort but it can be a way to get shot of your ailing motor and collect a small fee for it. Around two million cars are scrapped every year in the UK – so you should be able to find a scrapyard to do it for you. If they offer cash, however, walk away (see below).

Do make sure you are aware of the true value of your car before scrapping it – there are some cases of valuable classics being destroyed by owners who haven’t researched their cars!

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If you’re savvy enough with your toolkit, you might consider breaking your vehicle down and selling off the parts. As with everything these days, the Internet brings its fair share of alternative options so we’ve rounded up potential pitfalls and what to keep in mind when scrapping your car.

1. Check online: Google is your friend

Car insurance comparison sites

These days there’s a wealth of information to be found online. Some sites offer you the option to donate your car to charity but if you want the financial gain without the hassle, some offer to simplify the process by acting as your agent. Car manufacturers, which are mandated by the EU to ensure their vehicles their vehicles are properly recycled, have partnered with some of these agents.

2. Recycle in the right place

Most components of your car can be reused in some way – after all, EU legislation requires that 95 per cent of scrap cars are recycled – but not all recycling facilities have the right licence for scrapping cars.

Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) are the only centres legally permitted to dispose of scrap cars, as they can deal with hazardous parts, like oil and batteries. Only drop your car at a recycling centre with an ATF licence, as these are the only places authorised to issue the Certificate of Destruction (CoD). Recycling your car anywhere else is a criminal offence.

3. Notify the DVLA

If you don’t want be liable for any road tax once you’ve passed the vehicle on, you need to make sure the DVLA knows you’re no longer responsible for the vehicle. Make sure you complete the relevant paperwork.

The V5C document has a section that needs to be completed and exchanged for a Certification of Destruction (CoD), which needs to be sent to the DVLA. As a bonus, the DVLA will automatically refund any unused road tax. Your insurers may also give you a financial return, so don’t forget to call them too.

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4. It’s illegal to accept cash for scrapping a car

Cash buyer

Since the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act October 2013, it’s against the law to pay cash for scrap cars in England and Wales, so be sceptical of anyone offering to do so. The same piece of legislation also requires you to show ID and proof of address if taking your car to the scrap merchants.

By law, they have to make a copy, which they store for three years, so if you’re concerned about the safety of your data, it may be worth going through an agent. Some recycling centres store electronic copies of customers’ identification anonymously using the same type of encryption that’s used by banks.

5. Be wary of unscrupulous traders

The nature of the internet means crooks can make their websites look legitimate, but there are dead giveaways. CoDs can be misrepresented as ‘Destruction Certificates’ or ‘Certificates of Collection’; some links on the website may not work and offers of cash are generously higher than other legal companies. Some work to gain your trust by ‘offering advice’ but these are often scams to get you to give your car up for free. Take care.

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6. Dismantling is not for the faint of heart

While some may argue that the sum of the parts of your scrap banger is worth more than the whole, certain scrapyards won’t take partially dismantled cars. If you embark on this journey, you need to be prepared to go the whole way. In which case, it’s a strategy best left to experienced amateurs or professional mechanics.

7. How much will I get for my car?

As the price of scrap metal fluctuates, so too do the prices scrapyards are willing to offer for your vehicle. To gauge how much your car is worth visit sites like to get a quotation. The tool will give you an instant quote when you provide your car registration, postcode and email address.

As a general guide, most scrapped cars are between 10-16 years old and depending on age can fetch between £100-300, with the average price sitting around £150.

Now head to our Driver Power 2015 page to see the best cars to own – so you can choose your new motor.

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