What Do Wreckers Do With Scrap Cars?

Find out all you need to know about car wreckers and scrapping cars

Wreckers and car scrapping

Have you ever wondered what actually happens to your scrap car once you have sold it to a car wrecker like CarTakeBack? For car owners, it is the final goodbye for the old motor, but the vehicle’s journey doesn’t end there.

Let’s look into what car wreckers do with the scrap cars they have acquired, and why the work car wreckers do is so important.

Man wearing gloves and overalls handling cars parts

What are car wreckers?

Car wrecking is the business of carefully dismantling wrecked, broken or otherwise decommissioned vehicles. A car wrecking team will identify and recover any still usable parts, which can then be sold on.

Unusable metal parts, such as a wrecked chassis, bumper, or internal components which are damaged beyond repair, are sold to scrap metal companies who recycle it.

Rather than leaving old vehicles to rust, car wreckers work to ensure that a car is disposed of responsibly and efficiently.

The value of usable spare parts

Close up photograph of used car parts

Dismantled cars can sometimes yield a number of reusable parts. Each of these may still be of value to someone else looking to buy spares. Car wreckers commonly recycle and re-sell usable car parts such as:

  • Headlights, blinkers & taillights
  • Seats & upholstery
  • Exhaust system parts
  • Mirrors
  • Alloy wheels & hubcaps
  • Engines and engine parts
  • Transmission systems
  • Undamaged windows and windshields

It may only be a handful of old or broken components which render a car undriveable, but the majority of the internal or external components will often be in perfect working order.

The vehicle recycling process

Car wreckers recycle vehicles by following a complicated process that ensures all usable components are recovered and that all unusable materials are recycled appropriately. This process also includes the safe disposal of materials and fluids which are not good for re-sale or recycling.

Wheels and tyres

Close up photograph of tyres

Car wreckers will remove wheels and tyres from the cars that they scrap. A car that has been scrapped due to an engine failure or severe chassis damage may still have relatively new tyres with plenty of life left in them. Second hand tyres and wheels are a useful and cost-effective option for existing car owners.

Catalytic converter

This is the exhaust emission control device that helps reduce pollutants from a car’s exhaust fumes. They are used in vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (such as gasoline or diesel) and brand new replacements can be costly.

Car battery

Close up photograph of a person removing a car battery

The car wrecking team will remove the battery and reuse it if it has plenty of juice left. Car batteries are a commonly replaced component. Scrapped cars may have a battery that is still healthy; this can be very helpful to other drivers to reuse.

Draining of vehicle fluids

Cars use a variety of different fluids, such as engine coolant, engine oil, transmission fluids, fuel, air conditioning refrigerant and windscreen wiper fluid. Car wreckers will drain the vehicle of all these fluids as part of the dismantling process.

Electronic components

Close up photograph of person removing vehicle electrical elements

Modern cars feature a high number of valuable electronic components which can be expensive to replace. Car wreckers will remove each of these components, including starter motors, electronic modules, alternators and entertainment systems.

Engine and transmission

Sometimes a car wrecker will be able to remove and reuse entire engines or transmission systems. Depending on the condition of the scrapped car, these large mechanical components can still hold value. These components may be sold straight-up or sent to a remanufacturer for restoration.

Hazardous materials

Car wreckers carefully dismantle cars and put extra care into the safe disposal of hazardous materials. Examples of hazardous materials include mercury, which may feature in anti-lock brake systems, screens, high-intensity headlamps or hood mounted light switches. Another hazardous material that is common in scrap cars is sodium azide, which is the propellent used in air bags.


What happens to the rest of the car?

After the still usable components, electronics and fluids have all been removed from the car, the remaining vehicle shell is processed further. The car wreckers will remove the harnesses, heating system, air conditioning system, wiring and any remaining components.

Photograph of smouldering metal being melted for reuse

Once the remaining shell is completely clear, it will usually be crushed flat or into a cube. This makes it easier to transport multiple scrapped cars to their next destination.

Did You Know?

An industrial car crusher can generate over 2,000psi (lbs per square inch) for a total crushing force of 159 tons!

This could be an industrial shredder or hammer mill – here the vehicles will have any remaining glass, rubber or plastic removed. The car will be crushed even further into small chunk, after which it will be sold to a steel mill to be recycled.

Why car wreckers are so important

Car wrecking is a crucially important industry that benefits, not just people, but the planet too.

Firstly, and most importantly, car wreckers help to recycle steel, which saves both energy and natural resources. Recycling steel is cheaper and uses significantly less energy than making it fresh. Car wreckers also help prevent colossal amounts of scrap metal hitting a landfill and instead help it recirculate in a useful way.

Photograph of new car components

For drivers, car wreckers are important because they are the source of countless vital discounted spare parts. Buying refurbished replacement parts can save you a lot of money in vehicle maintenance. It might even save your own car from the scrap heap.

What’s more, car wreckers will pay you for your old car, making selling your old motor significantly easier

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