Vehicle Recycling

Car’s don’t last forever. On average, cars are lucky enough to be on the road for 200,000 miles, or around 12 years.

Replacing your car after a few years of use is normal when it comes to car ownership. But at some point, you can’t sell and use a car anymore. They inevitably reach the end of their lifespan and are no longer worth keeping on the road.

They stop working, costing more money in repairs than they are worth. This is when vehicle recycling comes into play.

Because cars are so big and so numerous, we can’t keep them all around after they expire. That would take up all the extra land we have left in this country.

Instead, an old or totaled car should get recycled for parts and scrap metal, repurposing the material into something else. Have you ever wondered how recycling a scrap car actually works? Keep reading to find out now.

When a Car Should Get Recycled

Most people don’t keep their car for 12 years. Usually, after a few years, they sell the car and use that money to finance a newer vehicle. After all, Americans like to be comfortable and keep up with trends when it comes to vehicle ownership.

The old cars get sold to those who can’t afford new cars. They are then used until they stop working.

Once a car is too old, has too many miles on it, or has too many problems, it’s time to recycle it. While some people will let old cars sit in their driveway or backyards for decades, most will try selling them for any amount of money they can get.

The only people who buy useless vehicles are those who know how to recycle them.

As well, cars that have been totaled in an accident are no longer useful. Once a car has been in an accident, the vehicle’s integrity and its systems have been compromised. Typically, it’s not worth repairing every component in the car, even if it’s only a year or two old.

In these instances, it’s best to recycle the car right away, especially if your insurance will provide you with another vehicle. Those looking to sell their wrecked cars can check out this car website for more information.

How Does Vehicle Recycling Work?

Oftentimes, there are certain components of a vehicle that are still useable. There might be tires with some tread still left on them or a car radio that still works.

Or it might be small parts like rearview mirrors, steering wheels, headrests, etc. If the car isn’t too old, people may be looking for replacement parts for the same model.

If you had a vehicle that lost its side-view mirror, for example, you might not want to pay full price for a new one. Instead, you can visit an auto recycler to see if they have your car and purchase the mirror from them at a steep discount.

But once the useable parts get removed from the vehicle, what happens to the car’s body, and all the big components like the engine?

They get broken down into recyclable materials, piece by piece. In fact, most of the vehicle’s components and materials can are recyclable, which can lead to hundreds of dollars in materials. Here’s what car recyclers can extract.


Depollution is the process of removing all of the fluids from a vehicle. The recycler can take any leftover gas and use it in their own commercial vehicles on the property, saving them money.

Used engine oil gets recycled into new oil. And other fluids, such as antifreeze, are also used by the recycling yard’s own vehicles.


Electronics of all types are valuable. They contain many expensive metals that are only available in limited quantities on earth.

So car radios and speakers, lighting, and any other wires and electronics get broken down and recycled into new electronic components.


Tires, no matter how old and worn, are still made out of rubber. You can recycle rubber and turn it into new asphalt roads, roofing materials, or soft playground surfaces.


Metal is where the real value in cars is. Modern cars are mostly aluminum, which can all get recycled and made into new products and materials.

Once all of the plastic, electrical components, fluids, and non-metal materials have to get removed from the vehicle, it gets melted down and turned into raw metal, then sold to manufacturers and given a new life.


Batteries are one of the most tricky components to deal with. They can’t be thrown into the trash because they contain hazardous materials such as lead.

But recycling them is very difficult, and there aren’t many places that can do it. Sometimes batteries can be sent back to the original auto manufacturers.

Often they can be sold and reused, but usually, a recycler has to keep them until they can find out what to do with them.

Other Materials

Everything else, such as carpet, plastic, glass windows, and upholstery, ends up in the landfill. These materials are used as a covering on the landfill, helping to contain the odor and reduce the number of pests that can access it.

The goods news is, however, that landfills are beginning to get mined for additional recyclable materials. Many people throw out useable materials, such as metal and electronics.

Modern machinery is available to shred landfill materials that can also collect bits of metal from the waste. Hopefully, this technology and process advance over time to make landfills more efficient and increase the number of recycled materials.

Illuminating the Recycling Process

Vehicle recycling is a process that most people will never see or fully understand. But it’s essentially the reverse process of manufacturing a car. Components are removed one by one and organized into different piles.

Some can be resold, others sent to be recycled, and others used in their own vehicles. And hopefully, recycling efficiency continues to improve to limit what goes into a landfill and what needs to be extracted from the earth.

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