Old radiators have scrap value, but the amount of money you can get for yours at the scrapyard will depend on what it’s made of, where you live, and the current prices for the metal it contains. The value can be as little as $5 or upwards of $50. Below, we discuss how much you can expect to receive and how to get the best price for an aluminum, aluminum-copper, brass, cast iron, or steel radiators and parts. We also have the details of how to sell or recycle your old radiator, if it isn’t worth much for scrap.
In This Article
- How to Scrap a Radiator
- Radiator Scrap Value by Metal
- When Not To Scrap a Radiator
How to Scrap a Radiator
Find a Scrapyard
The first step towards scrapping your radiator is to find a scrapyard near you. One of the best online directories is the iScrap App. On both the app and website, users can report current prices at local scrap yards. By checking iScrap App, you can sometimes get current prices at your local yard without even having to call. Some other, smaller scrapyard directories include Scrap Monster, Scrap Metal Network, and Junk Metal.
Call your nearby scrapyards for quotes on the prices they pay for various types of scrap, like radiators. Just by calling around you may be able to find locations paying higher prices than others. You should also ask them whether they have any requirements for scrappers. Because of state laws meant to prevent thieves from making a profit on stolen goods, some scrap yards have to ask for your ID and aren’t allowed to pay cash for scrap.
Prepare the Radiator
Next, ensure that the radiator is properly prepped for the scrap yard. There a couple things you can do to get the most money out of a scrap radiator:
- Remove any fluid from the radiator. Most scrap yards won’t accept items full of any type of fluid.
- Remove plastic and steel ends and covers from the radiator. If you are able to strip down the radiator to just valuable metal parts, you may be able to scrap the radiator at “clean” or “prepared” prices, which are higher than the price given for radiators still with attached material that cannot be scrapped.
- Organize your scrap metal by the type of material. This will help ensure that a clean radiator is not weighted with radiator end scraps or other less valuable material. Scrap yards also usually frown upon people taking a lot of time to sort items at the scrap yard. If you’re well-organized, you may even be able to negotiate a higher price with the scrapyard.
Before heading to the scrapyard, it may also be worthwhile to check any specific laws regarding scrapping material in your state.
Radiator Scrap Value by Metal
Old radiators certainly have scrap value. However, a radiator’s specific scrap value will depend on the types of metal it contains. Sometimes, the body of the radiator will be one metal while ends or other pieces will be different metal. Separating these metals before you go to the scrap yard will maximize your value and ensure you’re paid full price for the more valuable metals. Below, we cover the different types of radiators, how to identify the type of radiator you have, and the value of each type.
Aluminum radiators are most commonly found in cars, trucks, forklifts, and other vehicles. Aluminum radiators will be silver in color throughout, without any copper color. If the radiator is dirty, use a file to clean away the debris to verify the metal is silver in color. If you uncover darker metal, it may be copper or brass, which have higher scrap values than aluminum.
For 2018, the scrap value of aluminum radiators was about $0.60 per pound. Aluminum radiators can weigh anywhere from about eight to 20 pounds depending on their size and whether you’ve removed any parts to prepare for scrapping. With these weights in mind, the typical aluminum radiator scrap price is $5 to $12 at the scrapyard. Remember, scrap prices are constantly changing and vary by location, the price you’re able to get for your aluminum radiator may be greater or lower than our estimate.
Want to learn more about scrapping aluminum? See our article on Aluminum Recycling Prices: Aluminum Scrap Price per Pound + More.
Aluminum-copper radiators, also known as aluminum-copper fin radiators or ACRs, are used in home and business air conditioning units and refrigerators.
Because these radiators have copper tubing inside, they’re worth much more money to scrap. We were unable to find an average weight for aluminum-copper radiators, but thanks to the valuable copper they contain, these radiators have a higher scrap price than some other types. Aluminum copper radiator scrap prices are about $0.92 and $1.06 per pound for 2018, with daily fluctuations and some price differences by location.
You can find more about scrapping copper items in our article on Scrap Copper Prices per Pound/Ton/Ounce/Gram.
Large trucks and heavy construction equipment may have brass radiators instead of the aluminum ones common in smaller vehicles. Brass and copper may look alike, especially if the object is dirty, so it’s important to find out what you have. There are a couple of ways to determine if your radiator is brass or copper:
- Some brass alloys may be magnetic, while copper is not magnetic. So if a magnet attracts to the pipe, it is likely a brass alloy.
- Brass is much harder than copper. If you’re easily able to bend the metal in the radiator, it is likely copper.
- Copper usually has a reddish color, whereas brass has a yellow, gold, or orange hue. You can compare the color to a penny, which is copper-colored, to help. (Pennies haven’t actually been made out of copper since 1982, so an old penny will be better for making an accurate comparison.)
Brass radiators are typically large and can be very valuable for scrap. Brass radiators have a higher scrap value than aluminum or aluminum-copper radiators. In 2018, brass radiators had a scrap value of between about $1.38 and $1.50 per pound. Since brass radiators may weigh up to around 35 pounds when coming from a large vehicle, you can expect to get somewhere around $50 for your radiator, depending on the exact scrap prices in your area.
You can read more about scrapping brass items in our article Scrap Brass Prices per Pound, Ounce, Ton (Yellow Brass, Red Brass, etc.).
Cast iron radiators were common in old homes and other buildings, particularly on the east coast of the United States.
Unfortunately, cast iron radiators’ scrap value is low. Prices for cast iron scrap around $0.09 per pound for 2018, on average. These values will vary over time, and depend on your location and the condition of your scrap cast iron as well. While the price per pound is low, since cast iron radiators are often very heavy (anywhere from 200 to upwards of 400 pounds), they can still be worth your time to scrap. A mid-size cast iron radiator at 300 pounds can bring in about $27 at 2018’s scrap price.
There are some scenarios where it doesn’t pay to scrap a cast iron radiator. Be sure to look in the When Not to Scrap a Radiator section below before you commit to scrapping your old cast iron radiator. You can read more about scrapping cast iron in our article Scrap Iron Prices per Pound, Ton.
While radiators aren’t made of steel, they can have steel parts. If your radiator has steel covers or ends, bring that to the scrap yard in a separate pile as you’ll likely be able to scrap it as well (but at a lower price than your “clean” radiator). As of December 2017, radiator scrap ends had a scrap value of $0.55 per pound.
When Not to Scrap a Radiator
If your radiator is still in good working condition, you may find that the radiator’s resale value is higher than the scrap value. This is most likely to be the case if your radiator is made of cast iron. A search for cast iron radiators on sites like eBay and Craigslist finds old cast iron radiators selling for hundreds of dollars. Cast iron radiators in working condition are used for home restoration and may also have historic and collectible value as well.
If you don’t want to scrap your old radiator and it isn’t in good enough condition to sell, you can also use one of the following sites to search for a recycling organization:
Depending on the type of radiator you have and your location, these organizations may be able to pay you a small amount for your old radiator. Some just offer free pickup, which still saves you the hassle of going to a scrapyard and carrying a heavy radiator.
And those are the radiator scrap prices. Radiators do have value at the scrapyard, though the price you’ll get depends on what type of metal is used in the radiator. Most radiator materials, including brass, aluminum, and copper, have a high enough value that they’re worth the time to scrap. You can get anywhere from about $10 to $50 for your radiator at the scrap yard, depending on its material and size. Cast iron radiators often have a low per-pound scrap value, but can bring a price similar to other radiators, since they typically weigh several hundred pounds. As an alternative, if your radiator is in good shape — particularly if it’s a cast iron radiator — you might be able to resell it. If you need to get rid of your radiator but can’t sell or scrap it, you can also consider recycling.