Glossary

Auto Dismantler – An Auto dismantler is someone who specializes in disassembling a junk automobile to acquire the most valuable parts. A licensed dismantler tests and examines each part and component in a vehicle to determine if it can be reused in a future vehicle. All fluids are removed and recycled and the removed parts that can be used are stored and catalogued. The remaining materials are recycled and used for new vehicles or other products.

Auto Salvage – Auto salvage is the act of removing key components and parts from a vehicle that has been deemed beyond repair by an insurance company or that an owner has decided to give up on. The first goal of auto salvage is to remove any reusable parts and dispose of any remaining fluids in the vehicle. Remaining, unusable components are then recycled.

Automobile Recycling – Any materials or components in a vehicle that cannot be reused or reconditioned by a dismantler are sent for recycling. The recycling process depends on the age and composition of the car. Older vehicles made solely of metal are dismantled carefully, removing glass and rubber and recycling each component individually. Newer vehicles go through a more strict dismantling procedure to remove any non-recyclable materials.

Bill of Sale – A bill of sale is a written document that details the sale of a vehicle from one individual or company to another. To sell a car in some states this is required, and in a select number of states you will need to have it notarized to be legally binding. It is recommended that you have a bill of sale for your records, even if it is not required in your state.

Certified Automotive Recycler – The CAR program is offered by Automotive Recycler’s Association as a signal of quality and reliability in an auto dismantler or salvage yard. The program was started in 1997 and has since been endorsed and encouraged by the ASA (Automotive Service Association) as a resource for maintaining quality business practices in the auto recycling field.

Electronic Parts – There are a number of electronic parts on a car that must be removed prior to recycling. These include switches, lights, the battery and its connections and fuses. These items contain trace amounts of harmful chemicals like lead and mercury that would be released if the car was crushed or broken down without them removed. Other specific parts include ignition switches and computer circuitry.

Exemptions – There are a number of regulations in each state regarding the documentation of damage, odometer readings and title transfers. However, usually when a car is older, there are some exemptions. Odometer readings for vehicles older than 10 years can be handwritten on most state’s titles, and notarization in some states is waived for vehicles older than 1975.

Fire Damage Title – In many states, if a car is involved in a fire, whether in an accident or not, and the damage exceeds a certain percentage of the replacement cost, it will be issued a fire damage title. A fire damage title is usually a sign that the vehicle would cost more to repair than you would receive by selling it.

Fluid Recovery – Before any parts are removed for recycling, a certified auto salvage yard will remove any remaining fluids from the vehicle. This includes Freon in the air conditioner, coolant in the radiator, oil, wiper fluid, transmission fluid, gasoline, and brake fluid. Each fluid is carefully removed and recycled or disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

Junk Car – A junk car is a vehicle that is no longer drivable and would cost more to repair than the actual market value of the car. Insurance companies will label vehicles as totaled when they reach this point of irreparable damage, however, any car that cannot be moved or repaired easily can be labeled as a junk car.

Junk Car Removal – There are certain companies that specialize in picking up junk cars directly from their owners, regardless of condition. Because junk cars are often beyond traditional towing, special equipment such as a flatbed is used to take them away. Different junk removal companies have different resources, so it is important to choose one that can handle your specific junk car.

Junkyard – A junkyard is where junk cars are initially towed. Not all junk yards act as auto dismantlers, so in some cases, the vehicle may be taken to a separate salvage pool where it can be dismantled and recycled. Many junkyards do have dismantling and recycling resources in place though.

LKQ Parts – This refers to any part that is of a “like kind or quality”. When a vehicle needs a replacement part, it doesn’t always need an exact fit in the replacement. LKQ parts include original and new parts as well as recycled parts from salvaged cars. If your vehicle contains parts that can be used LKQ to fix other vehicles it will have a higher scrap value.

Major Parts Removed – A vehicle with three or more major parts removed by a salvage yard is labeled as having “Major Parts Removed” for the purposes of the title in some states. These cars are not often resold again, but in some cases, if the value of the frame exceeds that of the recycled materials it may be.

Motor Vehicle Department – The state agency that issues your title and/or registration. The actual name of the motor vehicle department in your state may vary and in some states, a separate Department of Licensing is involved in the management of titles and registration. Make sure to check your state’s specific guidelines before starting the process of selling your junk car.

Notarized Title – Every state requires the transfer of ownership through a signed title certificate. However, some states also require notarization of the document for the sale to be legal. If notarization is required, check your state regulations to determine if each signature can be individually notarized or if they must be done together. You may also need a notarized bill of sale.

Odometer Disclosure – In many states, newer cars (usually less than 10 years old, sometimes less than 7) require an odometer disclosure that clearly states the mileage of the vehicle at purchase and resale. Many title certificates have a place on the back for an odometer reading that is used for older vehicles.

Parts Car – A term referring to a vehicle that is no longer good to drive, but that might still have value due the parts in it. If you own a junk car, you can make a nice amount of money from it by selling the vehicle as a parts car to a certified auto dismantler or recycler. The number and condition of salvageable parts will determine its value.

Remanufactured Parts – While the goal of most salvage yards is to remove parts that can be immediately used – such as newer batteries or pumps that were installed prior to an accident or breakdown – many times older parts can be remanufactured. Hard parts like pistons, fans, or rotors can be retooled and then sold as replacement parts if they don’t have any structural damage.

Salvage Auction Record – When a car is sold at a salvage auction, a record is generated of that sale, showing that it was at one time considered salvage and that it was sold for a specific value. Junk car removal generally doesn’t require any verification of such records, as the car will once again be salvaged.

Salvage Title – If your vehicle is in an accident and considered damaged beyond 75% of the initial pre-damage value of the vehicle, it will be issued a salvage title. That number is slightly different in some states but is generally at or around 75%. Once a car has been given a salvage title, it cannot be given a new title within the same state and it is considered best for salvage only.

Salvage Yard – A salvage yard is a central location where junk cars are taken for initial salvage. It is here that they will be dismantled for parts. Fluids are removed, electronic parts are extracted and valuable parts are taken out for reconditioning. Licensed salvage yards will follow state regulations in preparing the vehicle for recycling and then process the vehicle either in the same salvage yard or at a second facility outfitted for recycling.

Scrap Value – The scrap value of a car is the actual amount of money that can be extracted from a vehicle based on its parts and recyclable materials. Junk cars are bought and sold for the scrap value. There are other factors to consider such as labor that goes into recycling a vehicle, the time it takes to remove parts, and how much remanufacturing a part needs to be serviceable.

Structural/Frame Damage – When a vehicle is in an accident, there is a good chance that it will sustain some level of structural or frame damage. A full inspection is usually done by a body shop on behalf of the insurance company to determine if this is the case. If the cost of repairing the structural damage exceeds the 75% mark (or the internal value used by your insurance company) the car is considered totaled and should taken to a salvage yard.

Title Certificate – A title certificate is the legal document you receive from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (or its equivalent) showing you own that vehicle. To sell a junk car, you must have the title or a replacement title and follow the instructions on the document to transfer ownership. Each state has its own regulations regarding title certificates and sales, so be sure to check them before preparing to sell your junk car.

Total Loss – Insurance companies use this term to describe a vehicle that requires repairs in excess of 75% of the vehicle’s original value before an accident. In some cases, an insurance company will take the vehicle instead of allowing it to go to salvage, though this depends on the company and the specific nature of the damage. If the phrase “total loss” comes up in reference to your vehicle after an accident, discuss what this will specifically mean with your insurance company.

Vehicle Make – A vehicle’s make refers to the brand of the company that built it. For example, Toyota is one of the largest car companies in the world. They produce cars under the Toyota brand name, but they also produce vehicles under brand names such as Scion and Lexus. Either of these is considered a car “make” as well.

Vehicle Model – The car model is the specific type of car built by the “make”. If you own a Toyota Corolla, the model is “Corolla”. There are a number of other factors in determining the model, however, as popular vehicles often have multiple variations each year. Dodge Ram trucks for example come in different sizes such as the 1500, 2500, and 3500 depending on tow capacity and engine size. Each variation is a model unto itself.

VIN – The VIN or Vehicle Identification Number is a unique serial code given to every vehicle sold in the country. These numbers are recorded on your title certificate and registration and can be used to track a stolen vehicle or identify a vehicle in an accident. The VIN is needed when selling a junk car, so it is important to have documentation in case an accident makes it unreadable on the vehicle. Usually a VIN is recorded in multiple locations on a vehicle – both inside and outside – and on your title certificate and registration.