Auto Salvage - What's in a Salvage Vehicle?

What is recyclable from salvage vehicle?

By Ben Silver - February 15, 2017

Many of my blogs are relative to the auto parts that we sell back to the general public.  Obviously, these parts get reused, which is the ultimate form of recycling.  These auto parts require little processing or “manufacturing” compared to new or aftermarket auto parts.  For this blog, I wanted to focus on the products, pieces, and parts that don’t make it directly back the end customer.  These auto parts and recyclable materials still get reused or recycled, but they’re not the “meat and potatoes” of processing auto salvage.  Here’s a breakdown of what else gets processed from auto salvage vehicles.


Everyone knows that there are many fluids that are necessary to make your vehicle go.  Engines require oil, gas, and anti-freeze.  Transmissions require a specialized oil to ensure that the gears are lubricated.  The list goes on and on.  Used gasoline is found in 90% of auto salvage.  At our facility, we reuse this gasoline in our delivery trucks and yard vehicles.  Our goal is to reuse all of the gasoline we produce at our salvage yard.  We’re able to accomplish this with ease.  Other facilities processing auto salvage may choose to resell there gasoline to companies that clean and reprocess it.  Engine and transmission oil is drained and captured from all of the auto salvage that we process.  This used oil is sold to companies to consolidate it and sell it to processors or refiners to recycle it.  Anti-freeze can be reused after it goes through a filtration process.  Some salvage yards choose to process anti-freeze on-site and sell it back to there customers.  Once we extract anti-freeze from our auto salvage cars and trucks we store it and sell it to a 3rd party processor.  All of these major fluids are recycled and reused for one thing or another.

Core Products for Remanufacture

Most auto salvage will have many “core parts”, which are parts that remanufacture’s rebuild and resell.  Some common “core parts” are starters, alternators, compressors, and power steering pumps.  You’ll see this products at new parts stores branded by the store itself.  Those products originally came out of auto salvage cars and trucks, were sold to rebuilder’s or remanufacturers and the bad components were replaced, they were cleaned up, and now are ready for your vehicle.

Catalytic Converters

Also called “cats”, these are the parts on your exhaust system that clean and scrub the exhaust from your vehicle before it leaves the vehicle and goes into our precious air.  They contain Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium, which are precious metals.  The “cats” are removed and resold to consolidators or “decanners” who remove the precious metals and resell it on the metals market for reuse.


After you process a salvage car or truck, remove the parts you need for resale, remove the fluids, then your left with the residual metal shell.  These shells are purchased by metal recycling companies, crushed down, shredded, and then separated into the different types of salvage metals for resale.  There is mostly steel and aluminum, but traces of iron, copper and other metals are found in auto salvage.

So, that’s the crash course on auto salvage by products and recyclable materials that are recycled and reused.  As you can see, auto salvage is a very environmentally friendly business that is properly disposing of and recycling wrecked cars and trucks.

Ben Silver is the CEO of Central Auto Parts and acting President of the Colorado Automotive Recyclers.  When he's not "auto blogging" or pushing Central Auto Parts to new heights, he's chasing his young daughter around the house or tying flies for the next great fishing adventure.

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