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Most Common Junkyard Scams and How to Avoid Them

Selling to a junkyard can seem like an easy way to earn cash. But to get a fair deal, you need to know the most common scams to avoid. Discover them here!
Stephanie Lawrence
Stephanie Lawrence
01/18/2023 · 8 min read
Most Common Junkyard Scams and How to Avoid Them Most Common Junkyard Scams and How to Avoid Them Most Common Junkyard Scams and How to Avoid Them

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Getting rid of your car in a junkyard or salvage yard can seem like a great way to get a cash payment and get rid of your junk car in the process.

But while selling the car to a junkyard can be appealing, you also need to be aware of the most common cash-for-cars scams that many shady junkyards might try on you.

Whether it’s shady practices with the paperwork, dishonest payment plans, or added fees that reduce what you can earn, there are many common types of cash-for-cars scams you might encounter when trying to get a fair price for your vehicle.

The good news is that once you know how to spot and identify them, figuring out how to sell car to junkyard without getting scammed becomes much easier.

To help you avoid dishonest junkyards and sell your car to a scrap yard without issues, let’s look at the most common scams, how to avoid them, and whether you should sell your junk automobile to a junkyard in the first place.

5 Most Common Junkyard Scams

Figuring out how to sell your car to a junkyard is never easy. And it can be especially difficult if you don’t have prior experience and aren’t too knowledgeable about the different ways the buyer might try to scam you when you want to get rid of your salvage vehicle.

To help you better understand what you could expect, here are the most popular scams that some seller types in auto salvage yards might try to pull on you.

Fake Incentives

The amount you get paid only matters if it represents the cash you hold in your hand. But unfortunately, some less-than-ethical junkyards will often try to inflate the perceived amount they’re paying you by offering only part of the payment in cash. They will offer to cover the rest with various incentives such as coupons, vouchers, and other items that can create the impression that they’re just as valuable.

Unfortunately, even though the vouchers may be legitimate, they will never be as good as simply getting the cash.

That’s because you can only use the vouchers in a very specific situation that might not work for you. They also usually have an expiration date, leaving you with limited time to act on the offer. And if you cannot use it, the coupon/voucher will go to waste, leaving you with nothing.

Hidden Costs

The initial offer you get from a salvage yard may be appealing, but it won’t always tell the whole story of how much you’ll get in the end. That’s because a wrecking yard can sometimes have hidden costs and fees that they will deduct from the purchase price, leaving you with significantly less money than you might have expected.

A common hidden fee that less-than-honest junkyards can employ is a towing cost. If you can’t bring the car to the junkyard yourself, some junkyards will deduct the fee for transporting your vehicle from the initial purchase price.

Dishonest Weighing

If your car’s value has deteriorated beyond the point of being worth repairing, the amount you can get for it will usually come down to the weight of its precious metal parts.

But to get the most for each pound in your car, make sure you understand how a junkyard will calculate it.

For example, if the junkyard has a “per ton” offer for your car, you’ll need to figure out whether it’s a net ton or a metric ton. The latter comes in at more than 200 pounds heavier, which means you can get less than you would in another place.

Changing the Agreed Price

Junkyards will often make bold promises to lure you into getting your car to them. That’s because before you commit to a junkyard and go through the effort of bringing your vehicle, you have many options to choose from and can quickly opt for an alternative cash-on-delivery junkyard that offers better terms.

However, just because you got a good initial offer on the phone doesn’t mean it will stay the same once you get there.

Some shady junkyards will then either stack on hidden charges (as discussed above) or try to argue that your car is in worse shape than you initially said and that the offer is now changed.

Pressure to Sell

A telltale sign that a junkyard might not have your best interest at heart is if they persistently pressure you to finalize the sale as soon as possible. This tactic usually happens when you’re already in the junkyard, and your car is there too. It can also coincide with the junkyard suddenly changing their offer and trying to pay you less money or pay part of the sum in vouchers or coupons.

This is one of the most common scams junkyards try to pull, as psychologically pressuring inexperienced junk car sellers can often help maximize their profits. In this situation, it helps to remember that now is a great time to sell your junk car and that you have plenty of opportunities to do that elsewhere. There are reputable junk car buyers that will offer you an instant quote and can pick the car up from you for free, wherever you might be.

How to Sell a Car to a Junkyard and Avoid Common Scams

Even though figuring out how to sell the car to a junkyard can be tricky because of the prevalent scams, there are ways to avoid getting tricked into a bad deal if you take a few important steps before selling and know how to deal with scam attempts.

Make Sure the Junkyard is Licensed

One of the easiest ways to immediately eliminate some of the more unreliable junkyard options is to check if the one you’re considering has a license.

While having a license is not a guarantee you’ll have a good experience, the junkyard refusing to show it is a sign that you should have no business selling your car there.

Avoid Coupons

As mentioned before, a common scam you’ll encounter is junkyards offering coupons or vouchers instead of cash. While you should treat each situation individually, any form of a gift card, such as Steam cards, won’t be as valuable as cash unless you know you will definitely use it immediately.

No matter your car’s condition, you have your pick of reputable junk car buyers that will happily take it off your hands. So, instead of agreeing to take coupons or vouchers, simply walk away from the offer and find a buyer who will immediately pay you the full amount in cash.

Always Ask About Additional Costs

One of the most important goals when figuring out how to sell cars to junkyards is getting as much money as possible. But the amount you get a quote for will only matter if it’s what you’ll actually get when transferring the title of your car.

Always ask about hidden tasks such as hiring a tow truck driver to grab your car or processing in advance to avoid surprises. And if the junkyard tries to switch its offers or include fees that weren’t mentioned before, don’t hesitate to walk away.

Come Prepared

Finally, your best protection against getting scammed or misled is to come prepared and understand your situation well from the start.

That means you need to figure out your car’s condition, how much it could be worth in the open market, and whether you can get a better offer from a competing junkyard or junk car buyer.

When you’re confident you know how much you should get, the junkyard won’t be able to pressure you or position their offer as a favor. If you don’t like the way you’re treated, you can take your car elsewhere and know that you can sell it quickly.

Should I Sell My Car to a Junkyard?

Figuring out how to sell the car to a junkyard can be tricky. With so many ways that shady junkyards can try to take advantage of less experienced sellers, it’s easy to see why many people avoid the process altogether, even if there are reputable junkyard options as well.

But considering how complicated the process of getting a good deal when selling to a junkyard can be, you may be wondering if it’s actually worth it.

And the truth is, the alternative ways of selling your car make junkyards all but redundant in most situations.

Today, you can sit down at your computer, find a reputable online junk car buyer’s website, and go through a streamlined process that will involve zero haggling, scams, or complicated title transfers.

You can get an instant quote by providing simple information about your car’s make, model, year, and overall condition. If you accept the quote, a representative will reach out to arrange for the car’s pickup. You’ll get paid the total amount quoted in cash and can rest assured there will be no hidden fees.

Bottom Line

Discovering how to sell your car to a junkyard can be a big hassle. But it is possible if you know the common scams and take the time to find a reputable junkyard that will treat you fairly.

But if you want a more straightforward process that provides reliable methods of payment, such as cash, it’s almost always better to work with a reputable dealer that specializes in buying junk cars in any condition.

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