A scrappage scheme for cars takes older, polluting vehicles off the road and replaces them with modern, fuel-efficient, and environmentally friendly models.
The best scrappage schemes offer huge savings on newer, greener vehicles. They can act as a bridge for people wanting to move from petrol or diesel cars to hybrid or electric ones.
In this article, we explain how scrappage schemes work, whether your car is eligible for one, and how much you might get for your vehicle.
Want to know which car companies are currently offering scrappage schemes? Skip the intro.
How do scrappage schemes work?
Car scrappage schemes work in a similar way to a typical part exchange, where you trade in an old vehicle for money off a new one. But instead of selling your old car on the open market, the dealership sells it to a scrapyard for recycling.
To take advantage of a scrappage scheme for cars, simply:
- Drive your car to a dealership or manufacturer offering a scrappage scheme.
- They’ll inspect your car and tell you if it’s eligible, how much it’s worth, and how much you could save against the cost of a new vehicle. Make sure you check the terms and conditions too.
- If you’re happy with their offer, you can order your new car at a reduced price.
- When you collect your new vehicle, you’ll sign over the ownership of your old one to the dealer/manufacturer.
- Finally, your old car is scrapped.
Is my car eligible for a scrappage scheme?
Eligibility for a scrappage scheme for cars will depend on:
- Your car’s age. To be eligible, cars usually need to be older than 8 years
- How long you’ve owned it. Many schemes require a minimum ownership period of 90 days
- Its emission rating. Scrappage schemes target more polluting cars, usually defined as those with a rating of Euro 4 or lower
- Whether it’s a petrol or diesel vehicle
Each manufacturer will have its own terms and conditions. Even if your car isn’t eligible for one scheme, it might be eligible for another. Always shop around.
Does the condition of my car matter for a scrappage scheme?
Your car’s condition isn’t as important as its age and the amount of emissions it produces.
Scrappage schemes aim to reduce air pollution above all else. Older, low-value cars that are a little beaten up are great candidates. And you could save yourself a chunk of money on an upgrade by trading your vehicle in to be scrapped.
What happens to my old car when it’s scrapped?
In the UK, your car has to go to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). These facilities make sure your car is legally and responsibly dismantled, crushed, and recycled.
Here’s what happens:
- First, all of the environmentally hazardous materials are removed from your car, including the battery, fuel tank, airbags, and tyres.
- All the car’s fluids are disposed of carefully, including any fuel, oil, anti-freeze, and coolants. These liquids can pollute the water supply and contaminate the soil if not removed correctly.
- Next, if your car has a catalytic converter, this will be removed and recycled. Any other potentially harmful metals, such as mercury, will also be carefully removed.
- Finally, once your vehicle has been stripped back and the reusable parts have been salvaged, it’s safe to be crushed. The plastics, metals, and fibres are then separated and recycled.
How much can I get for my car from a scrappage scheme?
It all depends on the manufacturer’s fine print, and on your vehicle’s age and emissions rating.
Some manufacturers offer a small saving of between £100 and £500 on a new car via a UK scrappage scheme. Others will give you a larger £1k to £2k discount. And some will even stretch to a massive £5k to £8k+ off the price of your new motor.
You just need to remember that the manufacturer or dealer will only have certain vehicles available to buy through their scheme. And some of those may be available for a limited time only.
Will I get more for my car by selling it or scrapping it?
Again, it depends. If your car is older but still in good condition, you might get more by selling it to a new owner.
However, if it’s very old, has a high emissions rating, or isn’t roadworthy, scrapping it could be the way to go. An eligible car worth £500 on the open market could net you three or four times that amount in scrappage scheme savings.
Which car companies are offering scrappage schemes?
A handful of manufacturers are offering scrappage schemes in 2022. Note: New and updated scrappage schemes are introduced regularly (often every quarter).
Nissan’s Switch Up Scheme could give you £6,000 off a brand-new Nissan or up to £2,000 off the electric Nissan LEAF. To qualify, your old car needs to have been registered before 31 December 2013. Other terms and conditions apply. Check your local Nissan dealer for more details.
Renault’s New for Old Scheme lets you save up to £2,000 when you swap your old vehicle for a brand new Renault car. You need to have owned your old car for more than 90 days, and terms and conditions apply.
The likes of Audi, BMW, Citroen, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes, MG, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Skoda and Vauxhall have all offered scrappage schemes in the past.
While these deals have been discontinued, it’s always worth checking back now and again. They may be reintroduced in the future.
Are there any government-backed scrappage schemes currently available?
There’s one local government-backed scrappage scheme for cars currently running in the UK.
Birmingham City Council’s Clean Air Zone Vehicle scheme is open to residents working at least 18 hours a week inside the city’s Clean Air Zone. It gives them the choice of a vehicle upgrade or replacing their car with a travel card for public transport.
Successful applicants can get £2,000 off the price of a car from Motorpoint. Alternatively, they can choose a £2,000 credit on a Swift travel card to be used on West Midlands trains, buses and Metro. Take the travel card, and it will cover the cost of an average commute for around two years.
Transport of London (TfL) has previously offered a scrappage scheme too. But this was closed in 2019 after all the available funding had been claimed.
Will there be a car scrappage scheme in 2023?
It’s possible that we’ll see more scrappage schemes in 2023 (and beyond).
The UK is committed to banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. The aim is to help meet the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
To hit this ambitious target, drivers will need to swap high-emission vehicles for hybrid or electric cars. A diesel scrappage scheme, incentivised electric car scrappage scheme, or similar, could help encourage them to do just that.
More manufacturers may launch scrappage schemes over the next few years to get drivers into their new electric models. And as we edge closer to that 2035 milestone, we may yet see a government-backed nationwide scheme. There’s nothing official on that yet, though.
To recap, what’s the best scrappage scheme for cars? It’s the one that offers you the biggest saving and gets you into a more modern, environmentally friendly vehicle.
While only a handful of these schemes are available at the moment, we expect more will be launched over the next few years.
Keep your eyes peeled if you’re planning on upgrading your car soon.