Wheel arc of a scrapped car

Scrapped car check: Has my car been scrapped?

No-one wants to buy a used car only to discover that the vehicle is destined for the scrapyard. Aside from leaving you out of pocket, buying a scrapped car could put you and other drivers at risk!

Knowing the signs of subpar repair work can help you avoid this pitfall. However, you should bear in mind that this is not a foolproof defence against scrap car scams.

If you want definitive confirmation whether a reputedly roadworthy car has been scrapped, there is another method at your disposal. In this guide, we will explain how to run a scrapped car check to find out whether a ‘used’ car is what it seems to be before you buy!

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What does ‘scrapped’ mean?

A ‘scrapped’ car is a vehicle that was deemed too damaged to be repaired to roadworthy condition and has been legally taken off the road. A reputable scrapyard will destroy all vehicles that are sold to them as ‘scrap’ (although certain salvageable parts may be recovered for use as spares).

How do I check if my car has been scrapped?

A HPI check can retrieve key information about your car, such as whether:

A HPI check costs around £10. If you are considering buying a used car, running a HPI check on the vehicle can give you the peace of mind that it has never been scrapped.

Check car has been scrapped with HPI

What if my vehicle has been scrapped?

Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do if you find out your car has previously been scrapped. This is why it's so important to check this information before buying a vehicle.

If you discover that you have bought a scrapped vehicle, you should contact the dealer or seller. You cannot insure it (or legally drive it on the roads) as it will no longer be listed on the DVLA’s database.

Scrapped vehicle scams

There are a few scrapped car scams that you should be aware of:

  • A car may not have been destroyed after being sold as scrap, which may result in it being reused in a ‘cut-and-shut' scam. This might involve combining the undamaged frontal half of an accident-damaged car with the undamaged rear of another vehicle. (This practice is illegal and puts the next owner and other drivers in danger.)
  • If you unwittingly buy a scrapped car, you may notice that the quality of the vehicle is lower than expected – or that the price is suspiciously low for its reputed age and condition.

To avoid falling afoul of scrap car scams, you should:

  • Research each dealer you are considering before you buy. Check whether they have a physical address, are listed in local telephone directories - and pay attention to customer reviews.
  • Ask for the V5C document and check whether the information matches up with the seller’s claims. If there are any discrepancies, walk away from the sale.

On a related note, if you intend to scrap your car, you should take your vehicle to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) and request a Certificate of Destruction (COD) to confirm that the vehicle has been destroyed and will not be returned to the roads.

If you ‘scrap’ your car with an unscrupulous dealer, there is always the risk they will attempt to pass it off as a used car instead of destroying it. (This could cause further problems for you, because any criminal activity linked to the car could potentially be traced back to you.)

Should you ever buy a scrapped car?

No, you should never knowingly buy a scrapped car. They cannot legally be insured or used on the roads as they are no longer on the DVLA’s system.

What is a Certificate of Destruction (COD)?

A COD is a document that confirms a vehicle has been removed from the roads and destroyed. It also confirms that the vehicle has been disposed of correctly and is therefore no longer the owner’s responsibility.

How long does it take for a car to get scrapped?

After you notify the DVLA that you’ve scrapped your car, it can take up to one month for them to update their database. However, it will not usually take this long.