The number of abandoned cars on Britain’s roads has increased dramatically. New figures suggest car dumping is in danger of becoming an epidemic in some areas. In 2016, 18,941 discarded cars were removed from our roadsides. That is nearly seven times the number that were taken away in 2012.
Price comparison website Confused.com put in a freedom of information request to local authorities. This revealed 261,724 dumped cars were reported in 2016 and 2017. It compares to 40,876 in 2012. The result is councils have had to splash out nearly £1 million to clear up the scrap cars over the past two years.
Here we look into the various factors behind the phenomenon and find that abandoning a broken car isn’t the only thing to do with it.
Increasing numbers of old cars
The number of ageing cars on the road has increased because, experts believe, more drivers are running cars into the ground. Industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says the average age of the UK’s cars has increased from 6.8 years in 2003 to 7.8 years in 2015. A gradually dwindling number of second-hand car sales seems to reinforce the idea that people are keeping their motors for longer. When these old cars fail – on average when they’re coming up to their 14th birthday ‑ drivers can’t afford to fix them. With no one interested in buying the car, they’re abandoned.
Recycling rather than scrapping
The price of scrap metal is famous for fluctuating. But a bigger influence on what car owners get for a redundant car is that cars are no longer scrapped; they are recycled. This means that waste oil, toxic batteries, tyres, air-conditioning and engine coolant plus brake fluid must be disposed of responsibly. The result is the amount of money people get for derelict cars has dropped. It’s now dependent on where you are in the country and how much business scrap yards are doing or need to do, as much as on the price of scrap metal. But while selling a car for scrap won’t make you rich, you shouldn’t have to pay to have it taken away either.
Can’t afford to pay for it
The Confused.com research revealed that most drivers who’ve abandoned a car did so because it broke down. Nearly a third (30 per cent) said they left it where it had conked out because they couldn’t afford to have it towed away or repaired. One in 15 drivers could no longer afford to run their vehicle.
Where are the most scrapped cars?
According to council information, Coventry is the UK’s car dumping capital, taking 2321 abandoned vehicles off its roads in the past couple of years. When drivers were asked, most have seen cars abandoned by the side of the road in the countryside. Councils in the south east received the most reports, and removed the largest numbers, of derelict cars. Those in London paid the most to remove cars.
Dumping isn’t the only way
Abandoning a car at the roadside can be an expensive thing to do. Fines vary depending on the authority but they average at around £130. Take a car to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) and it shouldn’t cost you anything. And there are plenty of services such as Cartakeback that will pay to take cars away. We were offered between £90 and £120 to have a car taken away in the south-east of England. But make sure you get a Certificate of Destruction. And if the ATF isn’t going to scrap the car, ensure you take the portion of the V5C that lets you notify the DVLA that ownership has changed. Not doing this can make you liable for a £1000 fine. It’s illegal to accept or be paid in cash for a scrap car.
There are also services where you hand over your broken car. Any value in it is then given to charity. Check out Charitycar.co.uk and Giveacar.co.uk. It makes a lot more sense than stripping it of any ID and leaving it in the street.