Scrap vs Salvage – 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?

A pile of cars that have been scrapped


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 and could still be fixed, but may not be economical for you to repair. What can happen to a car for it be considered salvage?

:warning:  A total loss, written off by your insurance company
:warning:  A major component failure, such as the engine or gearbox, meaning it’s a non-runner
:warning:  Isolated crash damage, leaving other parts unharmed
:warning:  A cumulation of many small problems that cost a lot to fix

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, sometimes known as ‘spares or repairs’. or is an old banger which is falling apart, the vehicle can still have parts that can be reused, repaired or resold.

Salvage Category Title

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 one of 4 four categories:

:no_entry_symbol: Category A cars must be crushed and disposed of entirely. They are not safe to be put back on the road.
:no_entry_symbol: Category B cars are also never allowed back on the road, but can be used for parts, if any internal components have survived
:white_tick: Category S cars may be repaired back to a roadworthy state, but they have suffered structural damage
:white_tick: Category N cars are the least-impacted salvage vehicles, having only suffered non-structural damage

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.