The best way to dispose of a used car is to sell it to someone else who can use it. But sometimes that simply is not possible. If your car was totaled, has a serious engine or transmission problem or is just really old, chances are no one will be willing to pay you for it.
That means you have to find another way to get your used car out of the driveway or off your lawn. Obviously, your car cannot go in the trash, and it seems unlikely your recycling provider will want to tow it away from the curb for you.
When you are ready to part with your used cars, see if your local metal scrap yard is interested. Look for a local or national hauler that can take it away at no charge (or even pay you for it). The other option is to donate it to a charitable organization. Car donation programs have become quite popular in recent years. If your community does not have one, chances are a national program serves your area.
Why is it important to recycle used cars?
Used cars have a number of valuable materials in them. Between 60 and 65 percent of the average car is made of steel or iron, which can be quite valuable depending on the state of the metals market. Catalytic converters contain several precious metals, such as platinum and palladium, which can be used in jewelry as well as industrial applications; and rhodium, considered the world’s most precious metal because it is so rare.
Used cars also contain a number of toxic materials. Almost all cars still have gas in the tank, oil in the motor and antifreeze in the radiator when you quit driving them. Car batteries contain a lead-acid mixture that is very bad for the environment. Most of these things can be recycled. Those that cannot need to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
Europe has a law called the End of Life Vehicle Directive, which requires member nations to recycle cars that cannot be reused. While there is no similar program in the United States, it makes sense to look into recycling your used car if you cannot sell it.
As noted above, getting rid of a used car is not as easy as getting rid of a used flashlight or a secondhand clock radio. It takes much more effort than putting it in the trash or taking it to your local recycling center. Since you have to do some work to get rid of your used car, you might as well explore the options for responsibly recycling it.
How to recycle used cars
The most common way to recycle used cars is to take them to a scrap metal dealer. Examples include Southeast Auto Recycle in New York, Allied Recycling in Massachusetts, Raleigh Scrap Metal Recycling in North Carolina and Rhode Island Recycled Metals in Providence.
Depending on how they are set up, these companies may simply recycle the metal, or they may separate and sell the parts as well. It is worth checking with them to find out what they recycle besides the metal, especially if you have multiple vendors in your community. Some may have ways of recycling the plastic and other low-value materials in used cars. Others may simply throw those parts away.
Also, make sure you ask the scrap metal dealer if they pay for used cars. The answer will likely depend on the current price for steel, copper, aluminum and other metals. When the price is high, and scrap metal dealers know they can make good money from your car, they will be more likely to pay you for it. When prices are low, it is entirely possible they will not offer you any compensation for your used car.
Another option for recycling your used car is Green Vehicle Disposal
. They have created a network of auto recycling companies in the United States and Canada. All their partners pick up used cars and break them down for disposal. They can even pay you for your used car in most cases.
To take advantage of Green Vehicle Disposal’s services, visit their website and enter your zip code. The website will direct you to a second page where you can fill out a form to receive a quote from the vendor in your community. You can also learn more about their recycling process and what recycling requirements they place on vendors.
How to donate used cars
Since cars are relatively high value items, many charitable organizations sell or recycle used cars to make money. National Public Radio, Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and Ronald McDonald House Charities are examples of nonprofits that have vehicle donation programs.
To donate your used car, determine which of your favorite charities have vehicle donation programs. Call them up and ask them a few questions about how they deal with used cars. Questions may include: What condition does my car have to be in (drivable/not drivable), and do you offer free towing (if your car is not running)?
Some charities can offer a tax deduction for your used car. Ask how they help you get a tax write-off once the car is sold. Also, ask the organization if they work through a middleman or if they will resell the car themselves. Those that work with a towing service or auction house may pay higher fees, which means they will not receive as much of a benefit from your used car. Those that resell cars themselves will earn more money from your car.