We’ve all lost our car keys at some point, whether that’s in the bottom of a handbag, down the back of the sofa or casually stuffed in a coat pocket. But what if you’re looking to get rid of your old vehicle, except you can’t get your hands on the key? Can you still sell your keyless car for scrap or salvage? Will you be able to get money for the vehicle? Read on to find out more.
How the Scrapping Process Works
The first step in understanding whether you can scrap a car without keys is to understand exactly how the scrap process works. Usually, scrapping a car involved the following steps:
- You secure a quote for scrapping your car (we have a quick and easy scrap car value tool you can try for free)
- You arrange collection with a scrap dealer
- They come to the collection address and you supply the necessary paperwork (proof of address, ID)
- Using a recovery truck, the dealer will winch or tow your vehicle to their scrap yard
- If the car can be repaired, they may choose to fix it up for salvage. If it’s beyond repair, or not worth fixing up, they’ll break the parts down for either reuse or recycling
Is it Possible to Scrap a Car Without Keys?
So, given the process above, can you scrap a car without its keys? The main issue here is getting the vehicle loaded onto the tow truck.
For your car to be winched onto a recovery truck, the front wheels need to be straight. Without the key, turning the steering wheel will put the steering lock on so the wheels don’t turn. Some collectors can just drag the car on, but would usually need a more specialist vehicle to do it, which is more costly.
There could also be some complications from a legal point of view. The collector will need proof that the vehicle is yours before they can scrap it (as part of the Scrap Dealers Act 2013) – this is to ensure the vehicle isn’t stolen. If you don’t have keys, almost all collectors we work with would insist on photo ID and a V5C log book, to ensure you’re the registered owner. Learn more about what to do if you’ve lost your V5C log book here.
Will I be Quoted Less Money for Scrapping or Salvaging a Car Without Keys?
If you’re simply scrapping the car, and the dealer is able to tow your vehicle, then you may be able to secure a similar quote with or without your keys, although in some cases it may be lower owing to the additional expense of specialist equipment.
If, however, you’re selling a working car for salvage, it’s a different picture. The issue here is, without the keys none of the parts are able to be tested or seen running, which means cars will need to be priced as non-running. Needless to say, this is likely to be a much, much lower quote than if you had the keys.
Securing keys can be a hassle for dealers so generally they will always pay less for a car without keys than one that just doesn’t run.
What Can You do if you’ve Lost Your Car Keys?
While some collectors may be willing to use specialist equipment to drag their car onto the recovery vehicle, others could opt for car skates. These are just like you’d imagine – wheeled ‘skates’ that sit under your front wheels so your car can be rolled. This is, again, a specialist piece of kit and not all dealers will be willing to use these.
The most sensible course of action is to alert dealers to the fact that you don’t have the car’s keys when you apply for a quote. You’ll then be able to discuss further to see if collection will be possible.
If you’re unable to find a dealer who’ll collect your car, then unfortunately you might need to look into getting replacement keys. Some insurance policies cover these costs, so check your contract. If your insurer won’t pay for the replacement, then you’ll most likely need to contact your car brand’s dealership or an auto locksmith for new keys. Depending on the technology used for your car, you could expect costs of anywhere from around £140 to thousands of pounds.