It’s a fact that many of us will have to scrap a car at some point in our motoring lives. Not all cars grow old gracefully. Many may have failed their MOT or be plagued by more misfires and maladies than Mr Bean’s Mini. At which point the cost of having them repaired to keep them on the road often becomes too expensive to justify.
This is normally the moment that drivers of worn-out motors decide to scrap their car. In the UK, the process of scrapping a car is a far cry from the days when you’d hand over a banger for a wedge of cash. Tight regulations ensure that proper processes are followed. These are designed to prevent vehicle identity fraud and ensure that the two million cars sent to the crusher each year are expertly recycled.
Worn-out cars are subject to the End of Life Vehicle Directive. This law demands that 95 per cent of every new car must be recycled, to help manage the annual 8m tons of scrap from old cars.
As most drivers won’t have had to scrap a car before, the process may seem daunting. However, it’s free to do, and the obvious question on most drivers’ mind will be: “How much money is my car worth as scrap?”
The good news is that scrapping cars is straightforward. And where there’s muck there’s brass. So read on to learn what to do when your car reaches the end of the road.
How to scrap a car: it’s easier than you think
1. It’s free to scrap a car
The most important fact to keep in mind is that it’s free to scrap a car. At no point should drivers have to pay a fee to a scrap car recycling centre or to an agency that handles the process of scrapping a car on a driver’s behalf.
2. Do you want to do it yourself or use an agent?
Before scrapping a car, drivers must choose between doing the legwork themselves or leaving it to an online agent.
Car makers must ensure that old models are responsibly recycled so they work with various recycling partners. These manage the process on the driver’s behalf.
This approach is hassle-free and ideal for those who find the thought of scrapping a car daunting. Once you have provided the vehicle registration and a postcode, agents will provide a valuation for collecting the car and another for dropping it at a local recycling centre.
Often, the price you get for having the car collected is higher than dropping it locally. This is down to differences in nationwide expertise and demand.
Alternatively, drivers may contact a local Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) and make all arrangements themselves. It’s a good idea to compare valuations from local sites with those offered by an agency, before deciding which way to turn.
3. It’s illegal to be paid in cash
Don’t expect to be handed a bundle of cash in return for an old car that’s being scrapped. Since the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act came into force in 2013, it’s been against the law to pay cash for scrap cars in England and Wales. Payment has to be made by bank transfer or cheque.
4. How much is a scrapped car worth?
The only sure way to know the potential value of a worn-out car is to compare quotes from agencies and Authorised Treatment Facilities. The price of recycled materials, such as steel, copper and aluminium fluctuates. And different makes and model of car will vary in value.
5. Tell the DVLA you’ve sold your car
Both the driver and dismantler must fill in Section 9 of the car’s V5C registration certificate. This should be kept by the driver and sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA).
Also referred to as V5C/3, this notifies the DVLA that a car has been taken off the road. If any road tax remains with the vehicle, it will be refunded to the driver within six weeks.
6. Keep the Certificate of Destruction safe
The Authorised Treatment Facility will issue drivers with a Certificate of Destruction for a car that’s scrapped. This should be kept safe: it’s proof the car was correctly recycled and that the driver no longer owns the vehicle.
However, in some cases, a scrap recycling centre may choose to sell a car, so won’t issue a Certificate of Destruction. This is partly why it’s important drivers send off the V5C/3 slip to the DVLA.
7. You can gift a scrapped car’s proceeds to charity
Did you know there are not-for-profit car donation programmes that turn a scrapped car into cash for a UK charity? Giveacar.co.uk, charitycar.co.uk, cardonationnetwork.org and even Oxfam will gladly accept your car and do some good with it.
James is a motoring journalist and former magazine editor at BBC Top Gear and Auto Express. He has scooped, reported on and reviewed most new cars of the past 20 years, and currently contributes to the Driving section of The Sunday Times.