Recycling Materials from Cars

Photo by  Tom Fisk  from  Pexels

Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

Cars don’t last forever.

Even the most valuable of collectible cars at one point or another will cease to be of any value and will have to be sent to be junked or scrapped. It’s easy to assume that once a car is sent off to a junkyard that it’s life story has come to a complete end. This is completely inaccurate. When processed properly, almost every single part of a car can be broken down, taken apart, recycled, and put back into the economy in one form or another.

It wouldn’t even be surprising if cars and their materials end up completely recycled and used to produce brand new cars!

In this article, we’ll look at how a car can be broken down into different parts or materials for the purposes of recycling.

Firstly, it should be understood that recycling a car is not as simple as just crushing it and melting it down. A modern automobile functions as a result of many different types of technologies working in tandem, all of which are made of different kinds of materials. These materials will need to be extracted in the right ways before the actual chassis of the car can then be crushed and melted for recycling.

Some key materials we see in cars include:

Spare Parts

Even the oldest, most damaged cars might still have functioning and usable spare parts. This is great news for many because these parts can be dismantled, refurbished, and then sold to the market to buyers who are in need of them. Drivers who maintain and drive older, discontinued models no longer in production could be the ones to benefit the most, as their spare parts tend to be much harder to find than contemporary models on the market.

Rubber, leather, fabrics, glass and polymers

Modern automobiles have come a long way in providing comfort to drivers and passengers. This is partially thanks to the materials that are used in producing the car and its fixtures. From the rubber in tyres that make the ride smooth and minimize noise, to the leather or cotton for the upholstery inside the cabin of the car. Even the dashboard and some of the panelling inside of the car is made up of polymers that could potentially be recycled.


Automobiles are also able to function thanks to a number of automotive fluids. Fuels, engine oils, coolants and lubricants need to be extracted from the vehicle and disposed of or recycled appropriately so as not to pollute the environment. Let’s not forget how dangerous it would be if these fluids found their way into the soil or nearby waters wherever the old or condemned car is being processed.


The more modern a car is, the more electrical and electronic parts it will have.

Much like automotive fluids, some of the materials used to make up electronic equipment can contaminate the ground if it is simply thrown away at a landfill, which is why they need to be removed and recycled properly. On top of that, some of those materials are actually valuable when recycled such as rare earth metals and precious metals. This adds even more incentive for companies to remove it from the automobile before its crushed or melted down.


Once all of the above are removed, the last material that remains is what makes up the chassis itself: metals. At this stage, cars can be crushed or shredded and then sold to steel mills that will then melt it all down and use it to make recycled metal.

Don’t be surprised if you discover that these recycled metals actually end up being used to produce brand new cars!

Being able to break down and recycle all of these materials from cars is great news for all stakeholders of the automotive industry. It reduces waste from old cars, and enables manufacturers to use recycled materials which contributes towards protecting the environment!