Scrap Car or Salvage Car – What’s the Difference?

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When a car begins to reach the end of its working life, the inevitable thoughts begin to cross the owner’s mind – is it time to start calling the local scrap merchants?

That may not be the case, however, as some vehicles may yet still have some life ahead of them, even if not in the conventional way. Just because your car has been involved in a serious accident and has multiple issues with its bodywork or suspension, for example, that doesn’t mean you can’t take the engine and gearbox and donate them to another car waiting for a suitable donor. This is where salvage enters the fray.

What is a scrap car?

A scrap car, or End of Life Vehicle, is a car that has no reusable parts, be it having reached this point naturally, or other damage or breakages which are deemed uneconomical to repair because of an accident, failed MOT or just general wear and tear. Motors that have been earmarked for scrap will be taken to an Authorised Treatment Facility where they will go through a depollution process before being disposed of and recycled into something else, all while following strict legal guidelines.

What is a salvage car?

The term salvage is widely used within the automotive industry as a car or van that has either a mechanical fault or has been damaged and is now considered not viable to repair. For an insurance company, it is the term used for a damaged vehicle once a claim has been made and they have decided not to repair it.

Salvage cars, however, still have the potential to be made roadworthy once again, even after being written off by your insurance company. When your car gets written off it will fit into one of six different categories depending on what damage the car has been put through – Categories A, B, C, D, N or S.



Category A

The vehicle cannot be repaired. The entire vehicle has to be crushed.

Category B

The vehicle cannot be repaired. The body shell has to be crushed but you can salvage other parts from it.

Category C

The vehicle can be repaired, but it would cost more than the vehicle is worth.

Category D

The vehicle can be repaired and it would cost less than the vehicle is worth.

Category N

The vehicle can be repaired following non-structural damage.

Category S

The vehicle can be repaired following structural damage.

Where scrap cars cannot be returned to the road at all and must be sold for materials (Category A), salvage cars have the added potential of being repaired and returned to the road, or at the very least be broken down for parts. Read more on write-off categories.

How does salvaging work?

Here at National Scrap Car, we ensure that the entire process of salvaging your motor is made as simple and hassle free as possible. With our dedicated team of experts and their extensive knowledge they will be able to provide you with the very best options and will ensure that you are getting the very best price for your car, guaranteed.

Why should I salvage instead of scrap?

More often than not, you will find that you will receive a better offer for your car if you go down the salvage route than you would if you were to choose to scrap instead. This is because the scrap car dealers on our network will be able to make more money from the parts of your car than they would just on the scrap metal alone. While you can of course break the motor apart yourself, you will need to factor in the time, work and storage implications that will have.

Here at National Scrap Car we can take all of those issues away by providing you with a simple, hassle-free solution while still getting the very best offer for your car.

What parts of my car are salvageable?

Anything that hasn’t been affected by the main source of the damage can be re-used or recycled elsewhere. If any major components to the car, such as the engine, gearbox, GPS systems or even items such as the steering wheel or the seats are in good condition, they will certainly have a resale value on websites such as eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.

What do I need to salvage a car?

Whereas for a scrap car you only need to provide the V5C Registration Certificate and the keys, for salvage cars, the more documents you have the better value your motor will have. The V5C and keys remain as vital items, but current and past MOT certificates, all receipts pertaining to the vehicle, the owner’s manual, and any service history you may have will all help to give you a better offer on the car.

Do I need photos of my car?

While it isn’t a prerequisite when it comes to salvaging or scrapping cars, the scrap car dealer (or our team at National Scrap Car) may request some photographs of the vehicle so they can assess the condition of the car. While this may sound like it adds an additional step to the process, it could be the deciding factor in getting you a more accurate price.

If you are taking photos, do not panic if they are not of professional quality. As long as they are clear, not blurry, contain any and all damages on the car and includes the vehicle’s registration number, they will be incredibly useful when putting together a quote for your motor.