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Almost everyone at some point comes across a car they own which they really don't see a value in selling. Usually with older cars you have the choice of selling as used car, for cars in better shape you can trade when you buy a new car. However, some choose to sell it to used dealers or private sales. When the car is not in a good shape or not running anymore or sometimes if a car has been considered totaled after an accident then you have choices of donating the car or sell it to junk or auto recycler who can then recycle good parts or to have it moved to a junkyard. Usually there is always demand for older car parts since many automobile manufacturers stop producing old parts and therefore the only way to repair a an older car is to find used parts.

Things to keep in mind when considering auto recycling

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Go Green: Automobile Recycling and Donating Used Cars

Everyone loves getting a new car.  What happens to the cars that are discarded? Can you donate your used cars?  How does car recycling work?  Here, we will discuss these questions and more.

Auto Recycling

Over 13 million cars are recycled in the United States every year and more than 27 million worldwide.  While the exact procedure varies from state to state and in actuality from junkyard to junkyard, in general, recycling follows these procedures:

  • Car and title is signed over to the junkyard by previous owner.
  • Any salvageable, refurbished, or resalable parts are removed. T his includes engine components (starter, alternator, etc), body components, electronics, and even chairs and seat belts.
  • The remaining shell is crushed and sold for scrap steel. Steel usually sells for $250/ton.

It seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Just make sure that you check with the Automotive Recycler’s Association before you choose a company.  That way you can be sure that your car gets recycled rather than just left in a junkyard to rust.

Are there any other alternatives other than sending your car to the junkyard?

Donate your Junk Car

Even junk cars can be donated to schools, charitable organizations, or other locations.  Cars that do not run or run badly are actually highly coveted by automotive schools and colleges because they provide the perfect place for students to practice their diagnostic and repair skills. Donating your car can actually provide you with a tax deduction as well, depending on the value of the car.

Here are a few things that you need to remember before you sign your car over for a donation:

  • Make sure the charity is qualified with the IRS under Section 501(c) (3).  Most charitable organizations will be qualified under this section, though there are a few exceptions. Churches, mosques, and some other religious organizations still qualify as charities but are not required to register with the IRS because of their religious status.
  • Determine the fair market value of your car. This isn’t as simple as looking at the Kelly Bluebook, or other similar used car book. The fair market value is defined by the IRS as “the price a willing buyer would pay and a willing seller would accept for the car when neither party is compelled to buy or sell and both parties have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.”

There are some restrictions that vary from state to state.  It is important to contact your state’s government to find out any rules or restrictions that may apply to your donation.

Going Green

While they are extremely useful tools, cars are made up of a variety of materials that can be reclaimed once the car has outlived its usefulness. Many of these, including antifreeze, oil, and batteries, can be very toxic and harmful to the environment if they are left to decompose naturally.

According to the United States Council for Automotive Research, car recyclers are able to reclaim more than 80% of the materials used in car constrictions, including the aforementioned fluids, as well as steel and aluminum. The remaining 20%, including things like plastics, paper, fabrics, and other similar materials, cannot be recycled and are disposed of in landfills each year.

The abundance of the materials is not the issue.  The main cause of a large carbon footprint is through the creation of new materials.  Recycling steel or other metals for the construction of vehicles uses 75% less energy than smelting and/or creating new steel.  All the steel used in car construction today has at least 25% recycled content.

How to Get Started

So, you’ve decided that you want to recycle or donate your car, but you don’t know how to get started?  Here are some easy to follow tips to help you find the best place to junk, recycle or donate your car.

  • Find a green car recycling company.  Sites like Green Vehicle Disposal offer a comprehensive listing of car recyclers in both the United States and Canada.
  • Ask questions! Some companies charge a fee for picking up junk cars; others will pay you a small amount in exchange for your car.  If you’re planning to donate your car to charity, many will pick up your car free of charge.
  • Have your title handy. You will need to sign the car over to the recycling company for the pick up to be technically legal.  There are some exceptions to this rule, including for cars that have been abandoned on your home or business property.
  • Set up an appointment. The next step is to schedule a time for your recycling company to come pick up your car.  Most companies will give you a window when they will arrive rather than a set time.  Make sure that you make your appointment for a time that you are sure to be home.
  • Turn over your keys and title, receive your payment, and rest easy knowing that your car is going to be recycled or donated to a worthy cause.

It’s that simple.

Benefits of Auto Recycling Salvage Cars

Getting a new car is always an exciting event.  By recycling or donating your old cars, you are helping both the environment and your community. 

Wouldn’t you rather have your car worked on by a mechanic who’s actually gotten his hands dirty?  Many automotive technical school programs do not have the funding to purchase cars for the students to work on so your donation can go a long way toward helping these budding mechanics learn their trade.

By recycling your car, you prevent harmful components like oil, anti-freeze, and lead from being introduced into the environment, and you can contribute to the construction of new cars.  This reduces the overall carbon footprint of the automotive industry.

It may seem easier to just drop your junk car off somewhere and let it rust. Hopefully we’ve given you some idea of the difference you can make by donating your car to charity or having it recycled by a reputable company.


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