Life at a Salvage Yard - What happens to a wrecked vehicle?

Information on how salvage vehicles are processed and recycled.

By Ben Silver - January 15, 2020

Being in the used auto parts game has opened my eyes to the beauty of automotive recycling.  It's one of the few industries that recycles a huge percentage of the materials that they purchase.  I'm proud to say that Central Auto Parts does it's best to keep as much of the salvaged car or truck out of the waste stream as possible.  Here's a step-by-step process of what happens at the salvage yard and how a wrecked vehicle is recycled...

Step 1.  Vehicle is in a collision, too much damage to repair, so it's deemed a 'total loss'.
Step 2.  Insured and insurance company decide whether to send the vehicle to a salvage auction or the insured retains the vehicle to sell on their own.
Step 3.  Wrecked vehicle is purchased by the salvage yard, either through the insurance auction or through the insured consumer. (Click Here to Sell Your Car)
Step 4. The wrecked vehicle goes through the intake and inventory process at the salvage yard.  All of the valuable and sellable used auto parts are graded and electronically catalogued into our used auto parts inventory system.
Step 5. This is a big one...The wrecked vehicle has officially become a salvage vehicle.  It's off to be processed by one of our professional dismantlers.  All the hazardous fluids are drained, sold, or recycled.  Gas is used to power our fleet, oil is sold to be recycled into new motor oils and other uses, washer fluid, and everything else is captured and recycled. The engine, transmission, and a select few other auto parts will be removed and stocked in our warehouse.  The wheels and tires are removed to be sold and all of the suspension is loosened up for easy removal later.  The salvage vehicle is now a much lighter and it will be taken and safely placed in our salvage yard where it will remain for 9 months to a year.
Step 6.  Being a salvage vehicle isn't easy, you sit there day after day, parts pullers are picking and pulling all of the different used auto parts off of you to sell to eager customers.  This is the step where most of the used auto parts are harvested and delivered to our customers.
Step 7. End of life...Once the vehicle has run its course and had the time necessary to sell, we remove any of the 'core auto parts' that are left.  These are sold in bulk to company's that will recycle some of the components from these parts to create a remanufactured auto part.
Step 8.  Smash and Recycle! Now we get our heavy equipment out and smash the vehicle down and place it in a huge recycling bin to be taken to the steel processor.  At the steel processor, the vehicle will be shredded and the different metals will be organized and either melted down or sold to a smelter to complete the recycling process.

That's the skinny on recycling a vehicle, from "crash to crush".  I hope you found it interesting and helpful in some way.  Call us today for all your used auto parts needs and support the local recycling industry!

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