How Does A Junkyard Operate

The humble junkyard has been around for generations. Junkyard operators (also known as wreckers or scrappers) humbly serve the people of their communities by offering a designated space to leave their unwanted materials. But how exactly does a junkyard operate and make a sustainable income? In order to answer that question, we have to look at what type of junkyard it is. Does the junkyard focus on vehicles or does it take all types of scrap metal, etc? For the purposes of this article we will be focusing on junkyards for vehicles.  

How Does A Junkyard Operate 2

Auto Salvage

A junkyard whilst practical, is not just there as a storage facility for unwanted vehicles or auto parts. No, the junkyard is a place of salvage and cheap parts for your car. 

At a salvage yard you can find some great gems and affordable pieces of equipment or parts for your current car. But, you have to exercise caution because when we use the term salvage; we are talking about cars that have most often been written off by insurance companies due to damage from a car wreck or natural disaster.

The vehicles in these salvage yards are most often not working and missing several pieces that have already been scrapped by other customers of the yard.

How do these yards operate?

A Fort Lauderdale Junkyard operation is not easy work. There is a lot that goes into the business of junking cars and it can sometimes be a laborious task especially when it comes to acquisition of stock and the sorting the product you have in the junkyard.

The acquisition of the vehicles can be the most expensive part because you have to cover the costs of paying for a junk vehicle as well as transporting it to the yard. It is important to get the best price for the vehicle because if it is not worth the customer fixing it, then you may sit on the junked car for years.

Once you have acquired your stock now comes the hard part of sorting the good from the bad. Any well-organized junkyard owner has stock divided by make and model for ease of reference for any potential customers who will visit your junkyard in search of parts.

In What Ways Are The Junked Cars/Parts Sold?

Now this all comes down to the junkyard owner and how they wish to run their business. Some junkyard owners will deal in parts only, whereas others may look for cars worth fixing to sell on to a customer be it personal or commercial. 

Other junkyard owners will advertise their services in the papers and others might sell pieces online, but you have to be very well organized and need to have a lot of warehouse space for that kind of undertaking. 

Some junkyard owners want the customer to haul off the entire vehicle even though they only need a door or other part. With negotiation, you may be able to come to a deal and only take the parts you absolutely need. 

Can I Barter At A Junkyard?

There is no reason why you can not barter at a junkyard, but it is important to note that a junkyard owner is going to have a firm price in mind. The average junked car costs a junkyard owner $250-$300 so they are going to want to make a profit on that. 


As a way to cut costs, some wreckers operate as self-service wrecks, whereas you the customer goes out into the yard to get your own parts, rather than the wrecker themselves. Many customers will call ahead to see if their parts are available, so it is important to have some type of order in the yard, lest you lose money to a competitor.

What Do Junkyard Owners Do With The Scraps?

Eventually the “old and unwanted” stock needs to go. Many junkyard owners will crush cars down and sell them for scrap metal or even encourage repurposing of the cars in the form of flower beds etc. The cars are only crushed when they have no more parts left in them to scrap, so basically a shell of a car.

Some junkyard owners may have little shops for things they have found inside the cars to sell such as jumpers, lighters or artwork made from the scraps, etc.

Are You Thinking Of Starting Your Own Junkyard?

If you are thinking of starting your own junkyard, it is not going to be easy and you have to consider the following:

-- What will your target market be? There are lots of different types of junkyard.

-- Are you going to have cans, scrap metal or cars?

-- What will your overheads be? How much money will you need to start the business up? Most junkyards need at least $50,000 to get off the ground.

Taxes And Junkyards

Junkyard owners are rewarded for their trade. In fact as a small business there are several credits they can get.

Junkyards And The Law

Any junkyard owner with a brain will be registered as an LLC in order to stop someone from personally suing them as a result of injury caused at the junkyard or by its product. Any Fort Lauderdale junkyard owner (as well as any junkyard owner in the state of Florida) must follow the following state laws when dealing in scrap metal. 

  • Record keeping: Junkyard owners are required to keep a record of all transactions and sales of scrap metal.
  • Fingerprinting: All scrappers must keep fingerprint records of all sellers of scrap and preferably a photographic likeness of the person selling the scrap.
  • Signatures must be obtained: Any and all sellers must provide a signature at the time of selling scrap and a driver’s license must be kept on file. 

These may seem like stringent laws but with the opioid crisis, many scrap yards are seeing an influx of sellers looking for quick cash and are more often than not trying to pass off stolen goods.

The Takeaway

Junkyards are hard work, but the payouts are worth it in the long run and are junkyards are important to the overall recycling system for automobiles and other unwanted materials.