How Does a Junked Car Get Recycled?

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Approximately 95 percent of vehicles retired from U.S. roadways are recycled each year, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and that’s a lot of vehicles, since each year 12 million of them reach the end of their useful lives. At $25 billion per year, auto recycling is the 16th largest industry in the country. Have you ever stopped and wondered what happens to a junked car, though? Keep reading to find out how the process works and see some of the unique ways car parts find new life.

How Auto Recycling Works

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How much of a junked car gets recycled? More than you might expect. We spoke with Thomas Buechel, owner of Rockaway Recycling in Rockaway, N.J., and founder of iScrap App, a directory of scrap yards, who told us that most of a car gets recycled.

“Out of that 3,500 pound car, 90 to 93 percent of it is going to be recycled,” Buechel said.

If you’re looking to get rid of a car that no longer works, you can take it to a junk yard or auto wrecker, where you will likely walk away with some money, assuming you have a clean title. iScrap App recently added auto wreckers to the directory, so take a look if you’re interested. This is also a useful way to find car parts if you would like to repair a car yourself.

Once a car arrives at an auto wrecker, the facility’s owner will determine whether to scrap the car – meaning send the metal to be recycled – or sell the parts. “It all depends on the year, make and model, and if they think it’s going to be a popular car or not,” Buechel explained.

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