How to dispose of an old car

Is your old car on its last legs? If your once-trusty old banger is no longer roadworthy, you may have no choice but to send it to the scrapyard.

Read on to find out how to dispose of an old car.

Is your old car on its last legs? If your once-trusty old banger is no longer roadworthy, you may have no choice but to send it to the scrapyard.

Read on to find out how to dispose of an old car.

Daniel Hutson
Motor insurance expert
minute read
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Posted 8 JANUARY 2021

Do I need to scrap my old car?

When a car gets to a certain age and mileage, there are a few reasons why you might be better off scrapping it rather than trying to sell it:

  • repair costs are more than the car is worth
  • it repeatedly fails its MOT
  • it’s unsafe to drive – even if a car passes its MOT, there may be other problems that creep up before the next one’s due
  • rust – it’s the first thing that puts buyers off – if your car has a bad rust problem it will be almost impossible to sell it
  • it’s been badly damaged in an accident and the repair costs for getting it back on the road are too high
  • it’s been declared an insurance write-off

How do I scrap my car?

Disposing of an old car no longer means taking cash-in-hand from a dodgy dealer. Laws have been introduced over the past few years to ensure that old cars are disposed of responsibly.

How to scrap a car

  1. Authorised Treatment Facility

    If you decide to scrap your car, it must be taken to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF), which are approved by the government’s Environment Agency. This is the law. It’s illegal to scrap your car anywhere else. An ATF will make sure the vehicle is disposed of responsibly and safely, draining all toxic fluids before dismantling the car. Find the nearest ATF to you on the website. ATFs usually offer to collect your car for free, but you can drop the car off directly at the ATF if you prefer.
  2. Certificate of Destruction (CoD)

    When you take your car to be scrapped, the ATF will give you a ‘certificate of destruction’ (CoD). This is proof that your car has been handed over to be scrapped and can never be driven again. If you don’t have a CoD you could still be liable for vehicle tax (VED) and any penalties if the vehicle is involved in a traffic offence.

    The ATF must tell you if they decide to repair the car instead of scrapping it. If this is the case, you won’t need a CoD.
  3. Tell the DVLA

    You’ll need to tell the DVLA that you’ve taken your car to an ATF. If you don’t, you could be fined £1,000. You’ll need to give the ATF your V5C vehicle logbook and keep the yellow ‘sell, transfer or part-exchange’ section. Use the ATF’s name as the trader you sold your car to, even if you didn’t get any money for scrapping it.
  4. Reclaim any remaining tax or car insurance

    Once you have the CoD and have told the DVLA your car’s been scrapped, they’ll refund any road tax (VED) left on your car. You should also contact your car insurance provider to see if they’ll give you a refund on any remaining insurance. Or you might be able to use it as credit towards another insurance policy if you’re buying a new car.

Will I have to pay to scrap my car?

ATFs don’t typically charge for disposing of your car and will usually offer to pay you for its scrap value.

If you’re a dab hand with a spanner and have the time and space, you might decide to take essential parts from the old car before scrapping it. In this case, the ATF might charge a fee, as there will be less value for them in a half-stripped car.

Just remember, if you’re planning on taking parts from your car before you scrap it, you’ll need to declare it SORN and take it off the road while you’re working on it.

How much will I get to scrap my car?

Don’t expect to get much money for scrapping your car, but hey, it all counts. The price you’ll be offered can depend on your car’s make, model and age. Weight is important too, as you’ll be paid for its worth of recycled metals per ton and the value of its parts. It also depends on the current market for scrap metal.

How far the scrap dealer has to travel to pick up your car will also be factored in to your final payment, so you might get more if you choose a local ATF.

Under The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act, it’s against the law to pay cash for scrap cars in England and Wales. You can only accept payment via bank transfer or cheque.

If you want to get the best price for your scrap car, it might be worth doing a little online research to find out how much your scrap car is worth before deciding whether to go ahead.

What if my car is an insurance write-off?

If your car has been declared an insurance write-off your insurance provider will take care of getting it scrapped for you. You’ll need to tell the DVLA that your car has been written off and send the V5C logbook to your insurance provider.

What happens when a car is scrapped?

Under EU law, 95% of a scrapped vehicle must be recovered to be recycled or reused. Apart from some minor changes, this should still be the case after the Brexit transition.

How is a scrapped car recycled?

This is what happens if your car is scrapped at an ATF:

  1. All hazardous fluids are drained and disposed of without harming the environment
  2. Battery and tyres are removed
  3. Some ATFs remove and catalogue components to be sold on as spare parts
  4. The car is put through a shredder where powerful magnets separate the metals from other materials
  5. The ATF will sell the steel to be melted down and used on new products
  6. Lighter materials like foam, rubber and plastics are separated by a vacuum and sent on for recycling

Did you know?

You could soon be driving on old tyres! A new type of asphalt made up of shredded tyres taken from scrap cars has been tested in Scotland and is currently being tried out in England. As well as the environmental benefits, the rubber from tyres could help provide a better surface grip and even absorb road noise.

Alternative ways to dispose of your old car

Donate it to charity

If you want to get rid of an old, unwanted car that’s not worth much, you might want to think about donating its value to charity. Take a look online to find charities that enable you to do this.

Trade it in using a car scrappage scheme

If you’re looking to replace your old car with a new, more environmentally friendly model, there are a number of car manufacturers currently offering discounts under their car scrappage schemes.

Check out some of the most popular car scrappage schemes for 2020.

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