Everyone knows you can recycle cardboard boxes and aluminum cans, but did you know you can also recycle your car? According to the University of California, Irvine, every car contains about 80 percent salvageable materials, which means your car can be recycled at the end of its usable life instead of going to the landfill.
Recycling your car at the end of its useful life can be a good way to help the environment, and you could even make a little money by selling your car for parts.
What is car recycling and how does it work?
Car recycling is simply breaking down cars into reusable materials, like steel and glass, and valuable materials, like the precious metals inside your catalytic converter, to use elsewhere instead of sending cars to the dump. Salvage yards, recycling facilities, and scrap yards all play a big part in vehicle recycling each year.
Unlike recycling plastic bottles and aluminum cans, recycling a car isn’t something you can do yourself. Drivers who want to recycle their car can call a local salvage yard to get more information about dropping off their car to be recycled, but drivers who aren’t interested in handling it themselves can reach out to a company that buys junk cars to have it hauled away.
If you’re interested in car recycling, you should know that there are several steps involved in recycling your vehicle. Here’s a step-by-step guide to what happens when you recycle your car:
Drain fluids: Gas, oil, transmission fluid, coolant, and other fluids must be removed (and properly disposed of) before a vehicle can be broken down and recycled.
Remove functional parts: Every car has parts that can be reused to repair other cars, like seats, stereos, engine parts, and glass. Removing these parts to be used elsewhere is an important part of the recycling process.
Shred the frame: Once the car has been stripped down to the frame, it is placed in a baling press and crushed before being placed in a shredding machine. The shredder separates the car into steel, aluminum, and other metals.
Combine metals: Once the metals are separated, they are combined with other materials to be turned into new frames.
Send to manufacturers: The final step is to send the reprocessed metals to auto manufacturers to be molded into new car frames.
Don’t worry about doing these steps yourself — as mentioned, you don’t handle the car recycling on your own, the salvage yard or recycling company will take care of everything.
Your car can even be recycled if it is totaled. Whether it was totaled in an accident or due to non-collision damage like flood or fire, your car likely has parts that can be reused. After an accident, your car insurance company will likely take ownership of your car and sell it for scrap as part of your claim, so you don’t have to handle finding someone to recycle it.
How much money can you make from recycling your car?
Whether you haul your car to the salvage yard yourself or find a company to do it for you, you can expect to make at least a little money from recycling your car.
You’ll be paid for the value of the scrap metal and other parts in your vehicle, and this amount is even factored into insurance claims for totaled vehicles; if you choose not to surrender your totaled car to your car insurance company after a claim, they’ll take the amount they expected to get from the salvage yard out of the check for your claim.
Where to recycle car batteries
To encourage customers to recycle, many auto parts stores and mechanics require a deposit when installing a battery in your vehicle. When your car battery needs to be replaced, you can take the old one back for recycling and they will return your deposit.
Car battery recycling is available at various locations across the country. You can easily find a battery recycling center in your area online.
Are electric car batteries recyclable?
There is some disagreement on this topic in the scientific and automotive communities, but it looks like electric car batteries can be recycled, but often aren’t because it isn’t cost effective to do so.
In January 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a competition to encourage inventors to create an innovative and profitable way to recover and recycle the components of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. 
Where to recycle car tires
Tires can usually be recycled through local tire shops, retread facilities, and tire recycling centers. But be careful — tires aren’t always recycled in an environmentally friendly way. For example, tires in New England are sometimes collected for recycling and sold as fuel to be burned at paper mills in Maine. 
Tires aren’t biodegradable and every car will go through multiple sets of tires in its lifetime, which means tires can have a negative environmental impact and some states, like Connecticut, no longer allow tires to be disposed of in a landfill because of it.
But recycled tires that have been shredded or deconstructed can be used in a lot of different ways, including:
Additive or supplement to asphalt
Lightweight fill behind retaining walls
Drainage material in landfills
Leachate systems in septic tanks
Paving material around railroad tracks
Rubber matting in playgrounds
Artificial turf for athletic fields
One of the easiest ways to recycle tires is to take them to your local Discount Tire location, but many states have tire scrap recycling centers as well.
Where to recycle car seats
Most parents understand that they won’t keep their toddler or infant car seats forever, but many people have no idea that their child’s car seat comes with an expiration date. Children’s car seats typically expire after six years, and car seats should be replaced after an accident in case of hidden structural damage. 
Car seat recycling is available at a number of places, including:
Each recycling location has their own requirements, so you can use an online guide to find locations in your area and get details for how and when to bring in your old car seat.