January 29, 2013 - What happens to cars when they have reached the end? If a car is beyond repair because of an accident or if it cost more to fix than replace and there is no market out there for it, the car will most likely get scrapped. Every year thousands upon thousands of vehicles are scrapped.
Scrapping is big business. To be exact, it is a $22 billion dollar business. Roughly 65% of a car is made out of steel. Steel goes for around $250 a ton and with developing countries, such as China, in the need for a lot of steel the price has been increasing.
I know the idea of a big scrap heap doesn’t sound to ecofriendly but it actually is. The recycled steel that gets manufactured from the process takes approximately 74% less energy than it takes to make new steel. Furthermore, more than three quarters of a scrapped vehicle is reused. That is a very high recycle percentage. You would be hard pressed to find a lot of products with that recycle ratio.
When your old car goes in for scrapping the first thing to go is the battery. They remove that for recycling. The next thing they do is deploy the airbags. The tires are then taken off and either sent for retreading or to a plant to manufacture into fuel. Then all the fluids are drained; AC fluid, fuel, oil, and antifreeze. Some of the fluids can be recycled and resold, but others have to be disposed of properly.
After that they remove the engine, which has a high scrap value due to it being made from high grade metal. Then other parts are removed, such as the catalytic converter oil filter, transmission, radiator and condenser. Filters are crushed to get out remaining fluids. The radiator and condenser are commonly made out of aluminum so they can be recycled.
The final step is the shredder. No, not the bad guy from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This shredder obliterates what’s left of your car into tiny pieces, and these pieces are sold to steel smelting plants around the world.