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What is a car or auto wrecker?

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Updated 20 Apr 2021

Rowan Johnstone

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A car wrecker, also referred to as an auto wrecker or auto recycler, is a place where used vehicles go to be dismantled and salvaged for spare parts.

If you’ve ever had a car you owned be written off due to an accident, you may have found yourself wondering where that car ended up.

If it was declared as a statutory write-off, it means it can never be registered for use on public roads, regardless of whether it is repaired or not. In this instance, your car was probably sold to an auto wrecker.

People who are looking to get rid of an old car, but don’t want the hassle of selling it, may also contact a wrecker to take it away. Depending on the car, wreckers may pay a few hundred dollars for the car, or if the car is in very bad shape with few salvageable parts, the service of simply taking the car away is payment enough.

No matter where the car has come from, the wreckers will quite literally take what’s left of the car and remove any salvageable parts, leaving just the bare shell and any damaged parts. Very rarely will they sell a complete car.

They’ll remove everything, including body panels, wheels, hinges, lights, engines, trimmings, seats, dashboards, suspension, steering wheels, transmission and every single electrical or mechanical component that’s still in working order.

Once these parts are removed, they are then sold on to the public or other repairers as used parts.

Because wreckers source cars from many different places, you can often find a mix of parts from new and old cars. Be careful though, as newer cars covered under warranty will need to be repaired by a professional, using quality new parts.

Wreckers can be great if you’re looking to repair your own damaged vehicle, and most wreckers offer at least some short term guarantee on the parts you buy.

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Written By

Rowan Johnstone

On weekdays Rowan can be found in the AutoGuru office, driving content and growth with the rest of the marketing team.

On weekends you’ll probably find him in the garage with his dad restoring a 1958 Ford Star Model Customline or enjoying a cruise through the Gold Coast hinterland on his Suzuki GSX-R600.

Despite his passion for being behind the wheel (or handlebars), he looks forward to the day when he can commute to work in his own driverless car.