What should you do when your car is no longer operable? Maybe you have had an unfortunate accident, or maybe you have been nursing along your 20+ year old car and its last day has just simply arrived. One popular option for disposing of your vehicle is to recycle it. Auto recycling is one of the oldest recycling programs in the world. People have been dismantling cars for decades and reusing the various parts from them. Once everything is removed from the shell, the car is crushed and the steel sent off for melting and reuse.
The first place an inoperable vehicle usually ends up is at the auto dismantlers or salvage yard. Here the vehicles are sometimes simply catalogued and stored. As they sit at the salvage yard, the vehicles are stripped part by part by people looking for cheap replacement parts for their own cars. A used part from a salvage yard is generally about 50% cheaper than buying a new part from the local automotive dealership. However, the actual price of the part depends on how hard that part is to find on the open market. A rarer part will obviously be more expensive.
Some salvage yards dismantle the vehicles as they come in and sell off the reusable parts.
Generally the first step in the dismantling process of auto recycling is to drain the various fluids from the vehicle. This is a very important step because most fluids in a vehicle are toxic to the environment. Some of the drained fluids are able to be recycled and others are not. Gasoline and brake fluids are resold while power steering and windshield washing fluids are not.
Depending on the type of salvage yard doing the auto recycling, their operations may include dismantling the vehicle, draining fluids from vehicles, crushing the shell of the vehicle, and sometimes even shredding the metal of a vehicle. The metal which is crushed or shredded is then sold as scrap to industrial metal recycling plants. Plastics from the vehicles are either thrown in the landfill or recycled whenever possible. All of the usable drained fluids, parts, batteries and tires are either stored at the auto salvage yard for resale, or properly disposed of.
Environmental contamination is a very real concern for auto recycling businesses. There are many toxic substances contained within each vehicle. The air, groundwater and soil can be contaminated during fluid drainage and part removal. Improper storage of batteries and fluids can also cause environmental problems. This is one of the main reasons why vehicles are generally dismantled outdoors and on paved surfaces where spills can be contained and cleaned up. This also lessens the possibility of fires from flammable liquids such as gasoline and break fluid.
Automobiles also contain other toxic substances such as asbestos, lead and mercury. Proper handling of these substances is one key to keeping them out of the landfill and out of the environment.
When you vehicle has reached the end of its life, know that it can be recycled and its parts used in other vehicles. Auto recycling has been around for decades and it is very easy to see why it makes so much sense.