What Happens To Your Car When You Junk It?

When your beloved vehicle reaches the end of its life, it’s time to consider environmentally responsible options to dispose of your car. That’s right — rather than contributing to landfill waste, vehicles can be safely recycled, allowing valuable materials to be reclaimed and reducing the environmental impact of your car.

Find out various ways your vehicle can be recycled in the sections below, and learn the benefits of each method as well as the positive impact they can have on our planet!

If you’ve got a damaged car you need to get rid of, you have plenty of options for how to dispose of it responsibly (and in most cases, even get paid for it).

Salvage and Auto Parts Get Reused

One of the most common methods of vehicle recycling involves salvaging and reusing auto parts. Salvage yards carefully dismantle end-of-life vehicles, identifying functional components that can be refurbished and resold. This process not only reduces waste but also provides affordable alternatives for vehicle repairs and helps extend the lifespan of other vehicles.

When a vehicle arrives at a salvage yard, it undergoes a dismantling process. Skilled technicians carefully remove various components, including engines, transmissions, suspension parts, body panels, interior components, and electrical systems. Each part is inspected for functionality, damage, and overall condition.

During the inspection process, salvage yard technicians evaluate the quality and usability of each part. They consider factors such as wear and tear, damage, functionality, and compatibility with other vehicle models. Parts that meet the required standards are designated as reusable, while damaged or non-functional parts are set aside for recycling.

Before being offered for sale, reusable parts may undergo refurbishment and cleaning processes. This may involve repairing minor damages, replacing worn-out components, or cleaning the part to enhance its appearance and functionality. Refurbishment ensures that salvaged parts meet quality standards and can be safely installed in other vehicles.

Metals And Materials Get Recycled

Vehicles contain a significant amount of metal, including steel, aluminum, and copper. Recycling these metals helps conserve natural resources and reduces the energy-intensive process of mining and refining raw materials. Once a vehicle is dismantled, the metal components are typically processed and sent to specialized facilities for recycling. The recycled metal can be used in various industries, including automotive, construction, and manufacturing.

Once the metal components are removed, they are sorted according to the type of metal. The most common metals found in vehicles are steel, aluminum, and copper. Sorting is typically done manually or with the help of equipment such as magnets and metal detectors. This step ensures that different types of metals are separated for recycling.

After sorting, the metal components undergo a preparation stage to remove any non-metal materials or contaminants. For example, plastic parts, rubber, glass, and other non-metallic elements are removed from the metal components.

Once the metal components are prepared, they are often shredded or crushed into smaller pieces. This process increases the surface area and facilitates subsequent separation and sorting. The shredded or crushed metal pieces are then further processed to segregate the different types of metals.

Fluids Are Disposed Of

During the recycling process, fluids such as engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolant are carefully drained and collected for proper disposal or recycling. These fluids can be processed and re-refined for reuse, reducing the need for virgin materials and preventing environmental contamination.

Skilled technicians at the salvage yard begin by draining the various fluids present in the vehicle. This includes engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant/antifreeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and any other fluids specific to the vehicle. Fluids may be drained manually or using specialized equipment designed for efficient and safe removal.

Once drained, the fluids are collected and stored in appropriate containers that are labeled and clearly marked to identify the type of fluid. Depending on the condition and quality of the fluids, salvage yards may explore opportunities for reusing or recycling them.

In cases where the fluids cannot be reused or recycled, salvage yards ensure proper disposal of the fluids as hazardous waste.

Tires Get Recycled

Tires are another important component of a vehicle that can be recycled. Used tires can be transformed into various products, including rubberized asphalt, playground surfaces, and athletic tracks. Tire recycling not only eliminates the environmental hazards associated with tire disposal but also promotes the efficient use of resources.

Tires designated for recycling undergo a shredding or granulating process. Shredding involves cutting the tires into smaller pieces using specialized machinery, while granulating breaks them down into even smaller particles. Both methods increase the surface area and facilitate subsequent processing.

The rubber from the shredded or granulated tires goes through grinding or crumbing processes. Grinding breaks the rubber down into smaller particles, while crumbing further reduces it to fine rubber granules or powder. This processed rubber is commonly referred to as crumb rubber.

Crumb rubber can be used for:

  • Asphalt mixes to create rubberized asphalt.
  • The construction of sports surfaces, such as artificial turf fields.
  • Cushioning material in playgrounds and sports materials.
  • Construction of rubber mats, floorings, etc.
  • As a fuel source in certain industrial processes.

Batteries Get Recycled Too

In the case of hybrid and electric vehicles, battery recycling is of paramount importance. These vehicles employ advanced battery technology, often incorporating lithium-ion or nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Recycling facilities can process and extract valuable materials from spent batteries, such as metals, plastics, and electrolytes. Proper battery recycling reduces the environmental impact of these components and facilitates their reuse in future applications.

Battery recycling is highly regulated to ensure proper handling of hazardous materials and compliance with environmental standards. Recycling facilities follow strict protocols to minimize environmental impact and maximize the recovery of valuable resources from used car batteries.

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