How to Scrap My Car

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How To Dispose Of A Car
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Most often, recycling brings to mind everyday household rubbish – simple items that just require sorting into the right container.

But have you ever wondered about your car’s fate once it’s past its prime? When your beloved vehicle is no longer fit for the road, it might end up at the scrapyard.

This guide delves into the world of car recycling and repurposing, aiming to help car owners make a knowledgeable decision about relinquishing their old vehicles.

Discover how to responsibly part ways with your aged car.

Do I need to scrap my old car?

When a vehicle reaches a particular age or accumulates significant mileage, scrapping might be a more practical option compared to selling it for various reasons:

  • Economic Repairs: The expense to repair the car exceeds its market value.
  • Frequent MOT Failures: If your car consistently fails its Ministry of Transport test (MOT), it might be an indication that its best days are behind.
  • Safety Concerns: Even if a vehicle clears its MOT, unforeseen issues might surface, making it unsafe before its next assessment.
  • Rust Issues: A prevalent concern for many, rust not only deteriorates the structural integrity but also significantly deters potential buyers. A heavily rusted car can be challenging, if not impossible, to sell.
  • Accident Damage: Scrapping might be the most viable option if the car has suffered significant damage from an accident, and the costs to restore it to a drivable state are exorbitant.
  • Insurance Write-off: If an insurance company has declared your car a total loss or ‘write-off’, it often means repairing it isn’t economically feasible.

Vehicles designated for scrapping are referred to as end-of-life vehicles (ELV). When considering this route, ensuring that the scrapping process is environmentally friendly and adheres to necessary regulations is crucial.

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How do I scrap my car?

Scrapping an outdated vehicle isn’t as straightforward as trading it in with the nearest dealer. To ensure the responsible and legal disposal of old vehicles, there have been several regulations introduced.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:

Locate an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF)

An ATF is the only legal venue where you can dispose of a car you wish to scrap. They have approvals from the respective governmental environmental bodies and ensure vehicles are disposed of responsibly by draining harmful fluids and safely dismantling them.

Within England, the nearest ATF can be found on the GOV.UK website. Note that there are distinct services in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Most ATFs offer free collection of your vehicle, though you have the option of driving it down yourself.

Get a Certificate of Destruction (CoD)

Once your vehicle is handed over to the ATF, they’ll issue a Certificate of Destruction. This verifies that your vehicle is designated for scrapping and won’t return to the roads.

Holding a CoD absolves you from any Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and potential fines related to traffic offences. If the ATF decides to repair rather than scrap, they should inform you, and you won’t need a CoD.

Notify the DVLA

It’s paramount to inform the DVLA once your vehicle is with the ATF. Failing to do so can attract a hefty £1,000 fine.

Submit the V5C vehicle log book to the ATF and retain the yellow ‘sell, transfer, or part-exchange’ segment. Record the ATF’s name as the dealer you relinquished your car to, regardless of monetary compensation.

Recover Any Leftover Tax or Insurance Amounts

After getting the CoD and updating the DVLA, they’ll reimburse any outstanding road tax (VED) for your vehicle.

It’s also wise to contact your insurance provider. They might refund a prorated amount for the unused cover. If you’re contemplating a new vehicle purchase, this could be redirected as credit for the new policy.

Environmentally Conscious Disposal

ATFs play a pivotal role in sustainable waste management. They ensure hazardous materials are safely extracted, parts that can be reused are salvaged, and recyclable materials are properly processed. This not only protects the environment but also helps in reducing the carbon footprint.

Check for Outstanding Finance

Before scrapping, ensure there’s no outstanding finance on the vehicle. If there is, settle it or inform the finance company about your intentions. Scrapping a car with unpaid finance without prior intimation could lead to legal implications.

Remember, the prime objective is to ensure the vehicle’s disposal in an environmentally friendly manner while adhering to all legal requirements.

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How do I scrap a car that’s an insurance write-off?

When your car is declared an insurance write-off, the scrapping procedure slightly varies from the usual process.

Scrap A Car That’s An Insurance Write-Off

While the onus mostly lies with the insurance company, there are essential steps you need to ensure:

Engage with Your Insurance Provider

Typically, once a vehicle is deemed a write-off, your insurance company will take charge of its disposal. They have partnerships with authorised scrapping facilities and will arrange for the car to be collected and processed.

Handling the V5C Log Book

It’s vital to forward the main section of your V5C log book to your insurance provider as this helps in officially transferring the vehicle’s ownership. However, retain the yellow segment labelled ‘sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade.’ This acts as proof that you no longer own the vehicle and is essential for any future reference or disputes.

Informing the DVLA

Once you’ve transferred the V5C, it’s imperative to notify the DVLA about the vehicle’s status. This step ensures you are not mistakenly held liable for any future incidents or obligations related to the car.

Understand Your Settlement

Since the vehicle is an insurance write-off, the insurance company will typically offer you a settlement amount based on the car’s pre-accident value minus any excess you owe. Ensure you understand this valuation and, if you believe it to be low, consider discussing or negotiating it with your provider.

Reclaiming Personal Items & Number Plates

Before the car is collected for scrapping, make sure to retrieve any personal belongings. If you have a personalised number plate, you might want to retain it. To do this, apply for a retention document via the DVLA which allows you to keep the number for transferring to another vehicle later.

Check on Remaining Tax or Insurance

If there’s any road tax left on your car when it’s written off, you’ll be eligible for a refund from the DVLA. Similarly, reach out to your insurance provider to inquire about any refund or adjustments for the unused portion of your premium.

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Always stay informed and proactive when dealing with a car deemed a write-off to ensure you get the best outcome and handle the situation responsibly.

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Can I keep my registration?

Yes! If you have a private or personalised registration plate that you’d like to move to another vehicle or simply retain for potential future use, there are established procedures in place:

Keeping My Registration Plate

  • Online Application: The quickest method is to apply online through the GOV.UK website. This platform is user-friendly and provides clear guidance through the entire process.
  • Postal Application: If you prefer traditional methods or do not have access to the online platform, you can also submit your application by post. Be sure to complete the required forms accurately and enclose all necessary documents.
  • Fees: There’s a transfer fee of £80. This fee covers the administrative costs of the process.
  • Required Documentation: Your V5C vehicle logbook is essential for this process. It proves your ownership of the vehicle and its associated registration.
  • Temporary Retention: If you’re not immediately transferring the registration to another vehicle, you can apply for a Retention Document. This ensures that the private registration is securely held in your name until you’re ready to assign it to a new vehicle.
  • Validity: Once approved, the Retention Document typically remains valid for a set duration (usually 10 years). If you don’t assign the registration to another vehicle within that period, you can renew the retention.

Remember, the goal is to seamlessly transition your registration while adhering to legal protocols. Make sure you keep copies of all documents and correspondence related to the process for your records.

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Will I have to pay to scrap my car?

Will I Have To Pay To Scrap My Car

The financial dynamics of scrapping a car can vary based on several factors:

Standard Procedure with ATFs

Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) usually don’t charge you for taking in your old vehicle. Instead, they often pay you based on the scrap value of your car, factoring in elements like weight, make, model, and the current market rate for scrap metal.

Dismantling the Car Yourself

If you’re mechanically inclined and want to salvage certain components from your vehicle, there’s potential for monetary savings or gains from selling these parts separately. However, be aware that ATFs might charge you if you hand over a car that’s been partially dismantled. This is because the residual value of a partially stripped car might be lower than a complete one.

Legal Obligations

If you choose to extract parts from your vehicle, it’s essential to follow legal procedures. Ensure you declare the vehicle as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) as it signifies the car isn’t on public roads and thus doesn’t need to be taxed or insured. This status is critical while you work on the vehicle or store it off-road.

Potential Transport Costs

While many ATFs offer free collection services, some might charge a fee, especially if the car is located in a remote area or is challenging to transport. Always clarify this detail before finalising any agreements.

Hidden Charges or Deductions

Be cautious of any additional fees or deductions an ATF might levy, such as paperwork processing or environmental disposal fees. It’s always wise to request a clear breakdown of any costs or payments before proceeding.

Market Fluctuations

The amount you receive (or the fee you’re charged) can fluctuate based on global metal prices. If metal prices are high, you’re more likely to receive a higher sum for your scrapped vehicle.

While the general trend is for ATFs to offer payment for scrapped cars, be aware of potential charges, especially if you’re altering the vehicle before handing it over. Always communicate openly with the ATF to ensure a smooth and transparent transaction.

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How much will I get to scrap my car?

Scrapping your old car won’t make you rich, but you can get a bit of cash for it if you know where to look. The amount you’ll be offered depends on several factors like the make, model, age, and weight of your car.

The scrap value is primarily based on the weight and type of metals your car contains. Steel, aluminium, copper, and catalytic converters are particularly valuable. The more metal your car has, the more it will be worth per tonne at the scrap yard. Luxury and sports cars tend to have more metal content.

How Much Will I Get To Scrap My Luxury Car

The condition of the car matters too. If it has functioning parts that can be resold, you may get more money. Engines, transmissions, electronics, tyres, and batteries can potentially be salvaged if still in good shape. The poorer the condition, the less you’ll get beyond basic scrap value.

The location makes a difference as well. If the scrap dealer has to travel farther to collect your car, they’ll deduct transportation costs from your payout. Choosing a local authorised treatment facility (ATF) closer to you can mean more cash in hand.

It’s illegal for scrap dealers to pay cash for end-of-life vehicles in England and Wales under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. You’ll need to accept payment by bank transfer, cheque, or other non-cash methods. Do some online research ahead of time to determine fair market value.

While you shouldn’t expect a windfall, responsibly scrapping your outdated or worn-out car can still provide a nice cash boost. Just make sure to use a reputable, environmentally responsible scrap dealer for the best experience.

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Why are cars recycled?

There are several important reasons why recycling old cars is better than simply junking them. First and foremost, recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Cars contain many materials that don’t biodegrade and can leach toxins into the soil and groundwater over time. Things like motor oil, antifreeze, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals can pollute the environment if not disposed of properly.

Sending old cars to be recycled also conserves natural resources and energy. The metals, plastics, rubber, and glass can all be recovered and reused rather than extracting new raw materials. According to the EPA, recycling just one million cars saves the equivalent energy of conserving over 27 million barrels of oil.

Recycling car parts also provides affordable auto parts for those who need them. Many components can be cleaned, refurbished, and sold as discounted used parts. Things like engines, alternators, catalytic converters, electronics, and tires often still have life left if properly reconditioned.

Helps With Pollution And The Environment

The UK government’s data shows that around 33.8 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste was generated in England in 2020. The vast majority of this waste could have been recycled rather than dumped.

Proper recycling lowers greenhouse gas emissions, reduces pollution, saves energy, and keeps usable materials in circulation longer. Automobile recycling makes sense both economically and environmentally.

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What happens when a car is scrapped?

When a car reaches the end of its functional life and is destined for the scrapyard, it enters a rigorous and environmentally responsible process to extract maximum value while reducing environmental impact.

What Happens When A Car Is Scrapped

The current aim for these end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) is an impressive 95% recovery rate, with 85% of that material being recycled. Here’s a closer look at what happens:


The first step in the process ensures all hazardous materials and fluids, such as engine oil, coolant, and brake fluid, are safely removed. This is crucial to prevent any environmental contamination.


Following depollution, valuable components like alternators, starter motors, and even entertainment systems are carefully removed. These parts can be refurbished and sold for use in other vehicles.


The car’s metal body, often made up of a mix of steel and aluminium, is crushed and sent to metal processing facilities. These metals are then melted down and repurposed for various industrial applications.

Plastic components, such as those from the dashboard, bumpers, and lights, are separated and processed to create new plastic products.

Fabric from interior seats can be extracted and reused, potentially in the creation of new automotive upholstery or other textile products.

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Tyres, if still in decent condition, can be retreaded and used again. If not, they can be repurposed for things like playground surfaces, sports tracks, or even as fuel in certain industries.

Safe Disposal of Non-Recyclables

Not everything can be recycled. Items that can’t be repurposed are disposed of in the most environmentally friendly manner possible, adhering to stringent guidelines.

Battery Treatment

Car batteries contain acid and other materials that can be harmful if not treated correctly. They are often sent to specialized facilities where valuable materials, such as lead, can be extracted and reused, while the remaining components are disposed of safely.

Reusing Fluids

Fluids like engine oil aren’t just discarded. They can be cleaned and repurposed, or used as a fuel source for specific industrial applications.

Salvage and Resale

Some cars, while no longer roadworthy, may still have parts in good condition. These parts can be sold as second-hand components, providing a more affordable option for vehicle repairs.

In essence, when a car is scrapped, it’s the beginning of a new life cycle for many of its components. The aim is to make the process as sustainable as possible, minimising waste and maximising the reuse and recycling of materials.

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How is a scrapped car recycled?

When your car reaches the end of its usable life and is taken to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF), it begins a comprehensive recycling process that’s both efficient and eco-friendly. Here’s an expanded breakdown of the journey your scrapped vehicle goes through:


The primary step in recycling involves depollution. All hazardous fluids—like fuel, oil, brake fluid, and coolant—are meticulously drained. The channels and components from which these fluids were extracted are then thoroughly flushed to ensure complete removal. This ensures that no harmful substances leak into the environment.

Battery & Tyres Removal

The car’s battery, which contains potentially harmful acids and metals, is removed and sent to specialised facilities for safe treatment and recycling.

Tyres are detached and typically forwarded to special recycling units. Occasionally, if the tyres are in good condition, they might find a second life on other vehicles. Otherwise, they’re repurposed for various applications like playground surfaces or roadbed materials.

Component Harvesting

Some ATFs carefully dismantle vehicles to salvage useful components. These extracted parts are catalogued and then sold as refurbished or used items, offering cost-effective solutions for repairs and restorations.

Metal Shredding & Separation

Post dismantling, the vehicle is subjected to powerful shredders that break it down into smaller pieces. Robust magnets in these machines segregate ferrous metals (like steel) from non-ferrous metals and other materials.

Metal Recycling

The extracted steel is then sold to manufacturing units. When melted down and repurposed, using this scrap steel can lead to significant energy savings—up to 74% less energy than producing new steel from raw materials.

Non-Metal Material Processing

After metal separation, lighter elements, such as plastics, foam, rubber, and glass, are isolated. Innovations in recycling technology have made it feasible to recycle even safety glass. Once processed, this glass can be pulverized and reused similarly to standard glass. Plastics are typically repurposed into new products or sometimes even transformed into energy.

Advancements in Glass Recycling

In the past, safety glass posed recycling challenges. However, modern techniques now allow for it to be efficiently ground down and repurposed, offering environmental benefits and reducing the need for new raw materials.

The overall objective of recycling a scrapped car is to ensure that as much of the vehicle as possible is repurposed or recycled, limiting waste and reducing the environmental footprint of the automotive industry.

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How are recycled car components used?

The recycling of car components is a testament to the power of re-purposing and the circular economy. When a car reaches the end of its road journey, its materials embark on new adventures. Here’s how these components, once deemed spent, are given a new purpose:

Car Component Potential New Uses
Batteries – New batteries
  – Replacement battery parts
  – Sodium sulphate crystals for detergents and textiles
Fabrics (like seat covers and carpets) – Cushioned chairs and sofas
  – Mattresses
  – Acoustic insulations
  – Eco-friendly shopping bags
Glass – Decorative ornaments
  – Glass tableware
  – Eco-friendly tiles for homes and buildings
  – Glass beads for road marking
Interior Plastics – Durable waste bins
  – Sustainable carpets
  – Recycled-content clothing
  – Garden furniture
  – Modern plumbing pipes
Panels and Body Parts – Reinforced bridges
  – Sturdy railway tracks
  – Steel bars for construction
  – Environmentally-friendly tins for food and beverages
Precious Metals (from catalytic converters) – Elegant jewellery
  – High-precision medical devices
  – Electronic components
Tyres – Equestrian arenas and surfaces
  – Mulch for gardens
  – Safe playground surfaces
  – Durable running tracks
  – Roadbed material for highways

By recycling and reusing these components, we not only conserve natural resources but also reduce the energy consumption and emissions associated with manufacturing new products.

This eco-friendly approach fosters a sustainable future while emphasising the incredible versatility of materials once thought to be at the end of their lifespan.

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What are my options other than scrapping my old car?

When considering the fate of an old car, scrapping isn’t the only route available. Here are some alternative avenues you might consider:

  • Donate to a Good Cause – Ever thought of turning your vehicle into a charitable contribution? By donating it, you can help fund numerous causes. Charities such as Oxfam or Age UK have provisions for car donations. Alternatively, intermediary schemes can handle the donation process, ensuring your old car benefits those in need.
  • Engage in a Car Scrappage Scheme – Planning on an upgrade? Some car manufacturers have a scrappage scheme in place. Here, you can trade in your older model for a newer, eco-friendly one while availing of attractive discounts. It’s a win-win: you get a new car and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Resell or Auction it – There are online platforms and auction sites where you can list your car. Even if it’s not in the best condition, someone might need it for parts or have the interest in restoring it.
  • Use it for a DIY Project – If you’re hands-on and have a creative flair, why not transform your old car into something new? From art installations to garden benches, the possibilities are endless.
  • Pass it Down or Gift it – If the car still has some life left, consider giving it to a family member or friend. It could be an excellent vehicle for a new driver to practice on.

Before deciding on an option, evaluate your car’s condition and weigh out the benefits of each choice.

Always remember to handle the necessary paperwork, like transferring ownership or updating insurance details, when you choose an alternative to scrapping.

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