Whether you're replacing a single part or junking an entire vehicle, chances are, the car parts you no longer need can either be recycled or remanufactured for a second time around the track. Broken windshields, used oil filters, aluminum car rims, batteries and bumpers are among the 13 surprising car parts that should never just be tossed in a landfill.
1. Used Engine Oil
Motor oil never wears out - it just gets dirty. Improperly disposing of motor oil leads to contaminated soil, streams, rivers and groundwater. Take your used motor oil to a certified collection center in your area so it can be cleaned and reused.
2. Oil Filters
Used oil filters can also be recycled, and must be properly disposed of by law. Get your oil changed at auto shops that recycle their oil filters, or locate an oil recycling center near you if you change your car's oil yourself.
3. Auto Glass
Approximately 15 million windshields are replaced each year in the United States, and most of them end up in landfills. While it used to be difficult to recycle this material because the glass is sandwiched between two layers of plastic, technologies have improved, and many windshield replacement companies now work with recycling companies to reduce waste. Reclaimed auto glass can be transformed into fiberglass insulation, concrete blocks and glass bottles, while the plastic is reused for carpet glue and other applications.
4. Engines and Transmissions
Replacing your car's engine? There's a chance the old one has some life in it yet. Many mechanics rebuild damaged engines, offering a greener, low-cost solution to an expensive problem. Remanufactured engines can be even more efficient than they were when they were first built due to the availability of more advanced materials.
5. Scrap Metal
Aluminum car rims, door handles and other scrap metal from damaged and decommissioned vehicles can be sold at scrap metal yards, where they'll be melted down for a new life in some other form.
Car batteries are the single most-recycled product in the United States, with a 98 to 99 percent recycling rate. State and regional laws require auto shops to ship old batteries to recycling centers or back to the manufacturers to ensure that toxic chemicals inside, like lead, don't end up contaminating the environment.
Used tires make up 2% of total waste generated in the United States each year, but out of the 290 million scrap tires produced annually, 233 million are recycled. Burning old tires results in air pollution and a toxic, flammable oily runoff. Always take your tires to a reputable tire dealer, local tire collection event or recycling center so they can be turned into rubberized asphalt for highways.
8. Water Pumps
Water pumps are among the automobile parts that can be remanufactured and reused when they break. Return pumps and other parts to auto parts stores like NAPA Auto Parts to recoup the 'core charge,' which is a form of deposit you pay when you buy a new part and get back when you return it. Programs like this encourage customers to bring back old parts rather than just throwing them away, reducing waste.
9. Starters and Alternators
Starters and alternators can be remanufactured, too. These parts can be expensive when brand new, so choosing this option makes sense for both environmental and financial reasons.
Gas tanks, lights, dashboards, bumpers and other plastic parts from automobiles are separated from other components and shredded for transformation into new products. Someday, that plastic waste might even be used to fuel your ride.
Belts and chains are among the most important components under the hood of a car. If they're still in good shape, with none of the visual signs that it's time for replacement, they can be reclaimed from a junked car and used again.
12. Rubber Hoses
Just like garden hoses, the rubber hoses from automobiles can be taken to many recycling centers for processing rather than tossed in the trash. Some belts that are past the point of saving can be recycled, too.
13. Mats & Carpets
Recycled rubber is often used to make new car mats, but the process works in the opposite direction, too. Carpeting is almost never biodegradable, and five billion pounds of it is sent to the landfill every year. Learn more about carpet recycling and check out the Carpet America Recovery Effort website to find a drop-off facility in your area.
Get quality replacement parts for your car installed by a NAPA AutoCare Center. To learn more about NAPA AutoCare, visit www.NAPAAutoCare.com.