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Tips & advice

How to scrap a car easily and for the best price

How do you scrap or recycle your car in the UK, what prices can you expect from the scrap yard and what should you tell the DVLA? Our handy guide reveals all

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For many owners of older cars, the sad day eventually comes when the cost of fixing a car works out to be more than it’s actually worth. It’s at this point where you’re beyond being able to sell your car or part exchange it for a new one and have to sell it for scrap. But how do you scrap your car and make sure you get the best price for it? Turns out, it’s easier than you think.

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If you’ve decided to scrap your car, you’ll want to work out how much it’s worth. Of course, some cars are broken up for parts before being crushed, but unless your car is rare or expensive to maintain that’s unlikely to affect the price you are offered. These days a car’s scrap price depends more on the value of recycled steel, copper and aluminium than it does on what the car would have been worth in working order. If demand for recycled metals and plastics is low, scrap yards might even charge to take the car away from you. To avoid being out of pocket and get the most amount of money for your scrap car, ring around a few scrap yards before accepting an offer.

Scrapping old or unwanted cars is a fairly straightforward process and we’ve outlined it below. You just need to make sure you have the right documents and paperwork to hand, while following the correct procedure to avoid breaking the law or paying any unnecessary fines.

How do I scrap my car? 

If you’ve decided that it’s more convenient to scrap your car rather than break it for parts, you must first gather all of the relevant documents. These include a proof of ID, proof of address and your V5C logbook

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Next, you will need to contact an authorised treatment facility (ATF). Cars can only be scrapped and recycled in the UK at authorised treatment facilities. To ensure the best price, you should call different facilities and see what they will offer you for your car.

Once you have agreed on a price and your car has been dropped off or collected by an ATF, you will have to fill out some paperwork. Do not drive your car to be scrapped if it is unsafe, uninsured, untaxed or doesn't have a valid MOT (if required).

If you have your V5C registration document, you will need to hand this over to the ATF but you must retain the yellow section labelled ‘Sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trader’. If you don’t have your V5C, you will need to write to the DVLA and inform them your car has been scrapped. You will need to include the following details in your letter…

  • Your name and address
  • The car make and model
  • The registration number of the car
  • The name and address of the ATF scrapping the car
  • The date your car was scrapped

Failing to give the DVLA this information in the absence of a proper V5C could result in fines up to £1,000

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Once the paperwork has been completed, you will be paid by the AFT. You should only accept payments by either bank transfer or cheque. It is against the law in England and Wales to accept cash payments for a scrap car. The ATF will then send you a Certificate of Destruction within seven days of scrapping. Remember, it is illegal to scrap a car with outstanding finance.

If you have a private number plate and wish to keep hold of it, you will have to make a retention application before you scrap your car or you’ll probably lose the plate. The fee is £80 and our guide to private number plate transfers has the process outlined in more detail.

V5C document with car key

How do I tell the DVLA that I have scrapped my car?

If you don’t want to 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.

You do not need to have your V5C to scrap your car, although at £25 it’s worth getting a new V5C document. If you decide to scrap your car without applying for a new V5C, you will have to send a letter to the DVLA informing them of the sale. The letter needs to include the vehicle registration number, make and model, exact date of sale and the name and address of the scrapyard or insurance company.

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If you do have the V5C document, there will be 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 issue you a refund on your unused car tax. Your insurers may also give you a financial return, so don’t forget to call them too.

You can let the DVLA know you’ve scrapped your car either online or by post, mailing to DVLA, Swansea SA99 1BD.

Can I scrap my car without my V5C logbook?

Yes, it is possible to scrap your car without a V5C logbook, although you will have to write to the DVLA and inform them that your car has been scrapped. The same applies if your car has been declared as SORN before scrapping. Include your details, the make, model and registration number, as well as the exact date the car was scrapped and details of the ATF.

How will I be paid?

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.

Scrapping a car vs breaking for parts

If you're handy with tools and have the time and space for a wreck, it may be worth considering breaking your car for parts. But before you start to dismantle your car, it's worth noting that certain scrapyards won’t take partially dismantled cars. You may end up having to pay for them to collect what’s left of your car as it’s worth less to them than the whole vehicle would have been, leaving you out of pocket at the end.

How much will I get for my scrap car?

As the price of scrap metal fluctuates, so too do the prices scrap yards are willing to offer for your vehicle. To gauge how much your car is worth, you can get an online quotation. Some online tools will give you an instant quote when you provide your car registration, postcode and email address. There are even scrap comparison sites which will give you a selection of ATF registered scrappers for your vehicle.

Auto Express has partnered with our parent company Carwow to bring you a fast and easy way to sell your car. Sell your car here...

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Content editor

Ryan is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2023, he worked at a global OEM automotive manufacturer, as well as a specialist automotive PR and marketing agency.

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