How old is the average scrap car?

Ask anyone what they think of when asked to describe the stereotypical scrap car and they’ll probably respond with something that’s barely clinging on to life, likely a couple of decades old and with a few additional air intakes courtesy of the red rash known as rust. But how old is the average scrap car really? Here at BMS Salvage we know a thing or two about scrap, so we thought we’d lay it all out for you to answer that very question. 

On average, cars tend to be around the 14-year mark when they reach the crusher, and that is a figure that tends to remain the same year-on-year. The lowest average age came about in 2009, when it dropped to 13, thanks in no small part to the government-backed scrappage scheme. There is no minimum age for a car to be sent off to a scrapyard, and the age of the car will not have any impact on the money you get for the vehicle.. 

The graph below shows the percentage of cars that were scrapped in 2022, with any cars produced prior to 1993 removed for clarity. As you can see, the most common year for cars to be scrapped is 2007, meaning that in 2022, the average age was actually 15, a year older than previously seen. One possible theory for this is that cars were used less throughout 2020 as a result of lockdown, and therefore vehicles’ lives were extended, albeit very slightly.

This theory also checks out when you look at the most scrapped cars of each year. If you were to count back 14 years from any given year and look at the lists of best selling cars, they’d likely be reflected in the most scrapped stats. In layman’s terms, a car that topped the sales charts in 2007 is more than likely going to be the most scrapped car of 2021. While of course there are exceptions to the rule here and there, this generally is the way the figures fall.

How old does a car have to be before it’s scrapped?

For the most part, there is no hard and fast rule regarding scrap cars, and any car can be scrapped at any time, no matter its age. However, it’s worth noting that the older a car is, the more likely it is to end up being scrapped. While this is the case in the vast majority of instances, age very much becomes a factor when discussing compliance for the growing number of Clean Air Schemes around the country.

Clean Air Schemes are being applied in a variety of guises, whether they’re called a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Low Emisson Zone (LEZ) or, the most well known, Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), and more often than not, compliance rules will be built around cars’ ages and the Euro Emissions standards. The most common of these are Euro 4 for petrol cars, affecting vehicles registered after 2006, and Euro 6 for diesel, which encompasses vehicles built and registered after 2015. What this means is that any car built before these emissions standards were put in place will be subject to penalty charges if driving within the Clean Air Scheme boundary.

As a result, vehicles built before these years are more regularly being swept up in scrappage schemes, or simply being turned away as their owners seek to avoid daily charges for their more pollutive daily drivers.

When do cars get scrapped?

There can be any number of reasons that a car gets scrapped, and of course there will always be a few anomalies that skew the averages in different directions, but as a general rule of thumb, a car is usually scrapped due to reaching the end of its usable life, or as a result of a significant mechanical malady or incident damage. Thiis 

You would think, or at least hope, that younger cars are less likely to suffer from breakdowns or mechanical problems thanks to their newer parts and (in theory) improved manufacturing techniques. That hypothesis doesn’t check out, however, when talking about accidents. No car is immune from a prang, and if you’re unlucky enough you could well drive a car fresh off a forecourt and straight into a lamp-post. With the cost of parts and repairs these days, it doesn’t take much to write off a car and what may seem like an innocuous bump could have done catastrophic damage to your car’s internal gubbins.

Scrapping Made Simple with BMS Salvage

If you’ve got a car ready to make its final journey then at BMS Salvage, we’re here to help. We don’t only deal with salvage vehicles, and will be more than happy to take any car regardless of its age or condition – in fact, you may be surprised that quite often a car that you thought would be destined only for the scrap yard may, in fact, be eligible for salvage after all… Get started today and find out just how much your old car could be worth.