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A new life for your old car – Help environment by recycling your used vehicle

Recycling has become an important part of preserving the environment—but it’s not just about plastic bottles and aluminum cans anymore. Now you can recycle your old clunker too. Modern automobile recyclers aren’t your average auto wrecker. These recyclers ensure that end-of-life vehicles are stripped of all reusable parts and are retired in an environmentally safe manner. Their practices help prevent dangerous toxins from being released into the ground and water, and help reduce the need for new parts to be manufactured.

When it comes to recycling a vehicle, there are three main steps that maximize the amount of material that can be reclaimed.

Step one involves draining any remaining fluids from the vehicle such as oil, gas and coolants. On average between 20 and 40 litres of fluid are removed from a single vehicle. Because these fluids can pose a significant threat to the environment if not handled properly, technicians use special equipment and follow strict disposal protocols to prevent any groundwater contamination. At this stage the gas tank, battery and tires are also removed and recycled, reused or disposed of appropriately.

Step two is the main removal of parts. Most parts, depending on their age and condition, can be re-used. As the vehicle is dismantled, reusable parts are inspected, tested and prepared for re-sale by being tagged, coded and entered into a computerized inventory system. Information such as the VIN number, model, mileage and year of the vehicle that the part came from are recorded so that when the part is sold the buyer knows exactly what they’re getting. Some parts such as engines and transmissions must be remanufactured before being sold, while lights and wheels may only need to be reconditioned. Reusing car parts ultimately decreases the need for manufacturers to create new parts, saving time, money and materials.

Step three is the recycling and material recovery process. Once all of the fluids and reusable parts are removed from the vehicle it can be crushed and shredded into small handfuls of metal. The ferrous (such as iron) and non-ferrous (such as aluminum) metals are then separated and reused to make new vehicles and other products.

So, what are some of the benefits of recycled vehicle parts? The environmental benefits include a reduction in the amount of waste ending up in landfills, less energy and resources needed to manufacture new vehicle parts and a reduction in the amount of harmful emissions being released into the environment from new product manufacturing.

For the consumer it means that whether you need a replacement part for a current vehicle or a hard-to-find part for a classic car, at roughly half the cost of new parts, recycled parts can save you money. And because each recycled part is thoroughly inspected and tested, you can rest assured that it will be in good working order. Some auto recyclers even offer longer and optional extended warranties on recycled parts.

Finding a recycled part is easy too. After a component is removed from a vehicle it is assigned an industry-wide interchange number that identifies what type of vehicle and model it will fit. Additional information such as the condition of the part is also recorded. Once tagged and given an inventory number, the part is entered into a computerized inventory system. The Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association Green Parts program allows people to find recycled parts for their specific vehicle with just a few mouse clicks. With the online parts finder all you have to do is enter what kind of part you are looking for and a list of available parts at automotive recyclers across the province will be generated for you. Go to to search the province-wide online inventory or to find the Member nearest you.

Summer CAA Magazine