How to Recycle Your Car for Cash

Help the environment, get rid of your old car, line your pockets: any way you slice it, recycling your car for cash is a good deal.

The good news is that the vehicle recycling industry has come a long way since its inception more than 80 years ago.

In fact, every year, the industry collects around 24 million gallons of motor oil, 8 million gallons of fuel, 8 million gallons of coolant, 5 million in wash fluid, and plenty of lead-acid batteries. There are around 9,000 recycling locations around the US, and they support more than 140,000 jobs. See why it makes sense to recycle your car for cash.

Here's How to Recycle Your Car

Your best bet is to scrap your car if you want to recycle it. This means that your top priority is to find a scrapper that won’t rip you off.

CarScrappers owner Todd Bialaszewski says, “You’re better off choosing someone with a halfway decent reputation over someone who gives you the ‘best’ offer. Even if it looks good on paper, that doesn’t mean it is.”

  • Search around: Do your research and stay away from anyone who pressures you. Your car isn’t going to drastically drop in value just because you wait a week.
  • Check the terms of the offer: Fine print can include anything from towing charges to some sort of made-up convenience fee.
  • Schedule the time: Arrange a set location and hour to pick up or drop off. .
  • Cash the check: Checks mean paper trails, which a reputable company won’t shy away from.

Look for a business with a strong foothold in the industry. Generally speaking, the more connections the company has, the smoother the process will run.

How Are Cars Recycled?

Here's how cars are recycled properly:

Step One: Removal

The freon, battery, and tires are removed and, if possible, resold whenever possible.

Step Two: Drain Engine Fluids

Fluids in cars are flammable and a health hazard.  Dangerous liquids that can’t be recycled as-is go through a serious distillation so they’re harmless by the end.

Step Three: Remove Core Parts

By the time the car makes its way to the recycler, it should ideally be as stripped as possible. At CarScrappers, we factor in the value of everything from a stray wire to the platinum housed in the catalytic converter.

Step Four: Crush the Windows/Shred the Frame

A vehicle shredder is designed to separate the fragments of metal. Crushing the windows helps compact the car so it can through the shredder.

Step Five: Your Car Becomes Something Else

Once the metal is ready, it usually goes back to the auto industry, but not always. CarScrappers is in charge of selling the scrap metal, not whether it becomes a new bridge in your area.

How You’re Helping the Environment

People recycle their cars for any number of reasons, including crashes and engine failure. So it’s not always the clunkers that end up in the crusher. The weight of most passenger cars is 65% iron and steel, so it’s important not to toss all that in a landfill.

New Stuff

We can think of recycling as an environmentally responsible thing to do, but it’s really more about giving us new stuff:

  • Billions of unwanted tires can be turned into asphalt bases to make new roads.
  • The glass from your car could end up in a countertop or a piece of jewelry.
  • Old batteries are basically recycled into…new batteries.
  • Steel is versatile enough to be used in a number of manufacturing sectors. Every time you recycle a ton of it, manufacturers skip the 1,400 pounds of coal, 120 pounds of limestone, or 2,500 pounds of iron ore they need to make a new ton of it.

Less Pollution

When old vehicles are left out to rust and rot (perhaps in a garage or on a lawn), they actually release all kinds of toxins into the air. A responsible recycler will also remove all the hazardous components of your car, meaning it won’t affect the local environment’s water or food supply.

What’s Recycling A Car Worth?

For fun, we’ll break down the average value of the components of your car.

  • Batteries: Up to $10. Please note that some states have restrictions when it comes to how you can recycle batteries.
  • Oil: About $.50 per gallon. Motor oil is typically reprocessed to become new oil.
  • Tires: Up to $75. Technology like devulcanization has really improved the market for used tires. (That sounds sci-fi, but really just refers to rubber waste becoming a new raw material.)
  • Catalytic converters: Up to $100. The precious metals in the catalytic converter are highly coveted, with an ounce of platinum going for up to 4-figures or more.
  • Glass: Up to $100 per car. Intact auto glass is laminated to resist shattering, so it’s not like those bottles you throw in the bin.
  • Starters and alternators: Up to $10. These are essentially in demand for their copper and steel components.
  • Scrap metal: Up to $.50 per pound. Scrap metal prices can really vary over the course of a decade.

Keep in mind that we quote the higher figures here, with the lower end being around half that (or more) What you get will depend on when you sell, the condition of your car, etc.


How does CarScrappers recycle cars?

CarScrappers works with professional organizations and individuals all over the nation to ensure that your car doesn’t end up in a heap somewhere. We ensure that fluids are drained, parts are removed, metal is harvested, and your car parts go on to live an industrious life elsewhere.

Are cars worth anything for scrap?

Yes. The exact amount depends on the weight and the usable parts. CarScrappers has made it our mission to get you as much as possible based on current market values.

If I recycle my car, do I pay taxes?

No. You’ll only pay taxes if you make money on the sale relative to the price you paid for the car. This is virtually impossible (even if the car was a gift).

Can I recycle my car if it doesn’t start?

Yes! In fact, that might be the best time to recycle it. Recycled cars are worth money for their metal and parts as opposed to whether they start.

Can I recycle my car if it still runs?

Yes. At some point, even a clunker that still runs isn’t worth the time, money, and energy to keep it going.