Scrapping vs Salvaging – What’s the Difference?

When it comes to finding the right solution to get rid of your damaged or unwanted vehicle, you might see the words “scrap” and “salvage” a lot. But what exactly does this mean and what is the difference between them?


Scrap cars are vehicles that are no longer fit for the road. Whether they have been damaged beyond repair or have reached the end of their life, ultimately there is nothing worth saving. It will be taken off the market and out of circulation and will go on to be broken down and crushed, it will then be sold based on the weight of the materials.


Salvage cars are vehicles which still have some value, but may not be economical for you to repair.  This can be something that has been classed as total loss by an insurance company. Alternatively it could be a car that has a major component like the engine or gearbox fail, or even something with lots of small faults that add up to a big bill and a big headache for you.

It means that the vehicle has been damaged in some way, either in an accident or over time which has made fixing the car cost more than the vehicle is worth. At this point, the owner of the car would have decided that the car is not cost effective to repair and would be looking to sell it as salvage or “spares or repair”.

If a vehicle is written off by an insurance company as a total loss, it will be given a salvage value by them and will be put into 1 of 4 categories: A, B, N & S. These different salvage categories are for the purpose of declaring the type and severity of damage a vehicle has had for potential buyers in the future once the car is put back onto the market. Read more on salvage categories here. Salvage companies such as BMS Salvage, do not require the car to have been in an accident or written off. If the vehicle is classed as a non-runner, it may have failed its MOT, or is an old banger which is falling apart, the vehicle can still have parts that can be reused, repaired or resold.

What’s the difference?

The difference is a salvage vehicle has the potential to be repaired and return to the road and go on to be bought and sold, whereas a scrap vehicle cannot. It has reached its potential and will be crushed and sold for materials.

Scrap vs Salvage – How much can I get?

When it comes to scrapping and salvaging, the price will ultimately depend on the vehicle. For a salvaged vehicle, you may fetch more money for it as the car can be repaired and made roadworthy again – but of course, this depends on how much the cost of repair is vs the value of the vehicle. In terms of making a profit from scrap vehicles, this will depend on a number of things including age and condition, however overall, the price of the scrap car will be determined by the weight of the vehicle.

When you look at scrap and salvage together, you’re more likely to make a bigger profit from salvaging. With that being said, they are both great options depending on the situation you and your vehicle find yourself in.

Want to know more?

Find out how BMS Salvage work, how to get a free and instant quote or read some more articles so you can brush up on your automotive knowledge!