Cars are like electronics: there are new models constantly on the market to replace old ones. With that, consumers must replace their old models or properly dispose of them. Otherwise, improper disposal has detrimental environmental and health risks involved, such as air pollution, water pollution, and soil pollution. Like electronic recycling, auto recycling requires its own specialized process. These steps in the vehicle recycling process ensure an environmentally responsible way that protects consumers and reuses old materials.
Before anything begins, the recycling facility inspects the vehicle for repair. Most vehicles are unrepairable, but occasionally, some are salvageable. This is because most vehicles that get recycled are from a bad accident, major mechanical issue, fire, natural disaster, or age. These vehicles are known as end-of-life cars and must be disposed of in an appropriate manner. Seeing as most situations are unfixable, most recyclers dismantle the vehicle for further processing.
Draining the Fluids
The first step in the vehicle recycling process is to drain the fluids. Recyclers must remove all fluids before they break down the parts. This includes engine fluid, oil, gas, coolant, transmission, windshield washer fluid, and brake fluid. Emptying the fluids makes it safe to salvage the parts as well as reduce the chance of fires and noxious fumes.
Removing the Parts
Once the fluids drain, workers remove the chassis and valuable parts for resale or recycling. Workers clean and remove certain parts, like tires, batteries, plastic reservoirs, and rubber hoses. Sometimes, auto collectors or restorers buy the chassis, but mostly recyclers break down unwanted parts into scrap metal. Other times, the doors, fenders, hood, trunk, bumpers, grille, head and taillights, seats, suspension system, and engine are reused in similar model cars that need replacement parts.
Crushing and Shredding the Frame
After all reusable or valuable parts are cleaned and processed, all unusable parts are crushed and shredded. Large industrial magnets, called scrap magnets, lift these parts to a crusher that presses it into a metal cube.