10 Commonly Recycled or Reclaimed Salvage Car Parts You Probably Didn’t Know About

 December 17, 2019  1:41 PM

Scrapped cars waiting to be recycled at a yard. Roughly 1.5 million cars get recycled each year in Canada.

According to Toyota, the average modern car is made up of over 30,000 separate parts, including nuts and bolts. Pare it down to the major components and even then you will have over 1000 of these, divided into major systems like the engine, transmission, chassis, brakes, electronics, and more. 


Over time all of these parts will wear down and require repair or replacement, especially if you have a used or salvaged car. But the great thing is that you only have to throw away old car parts only in extreme circumstances. 


Many auto parts can be easily repaired, while others can be sent to recycling stations for future reuse. This is not just good for your pocket, but also for the environment. Here are ten common recycled or reclaimed salvage car parts:


1. Oil Filters (recycle)

These should rank high on any list of recycled or reclaimed salvage car parts since they degrade quite fast. Oil filters are usually changed every three months or every-other oil change. Used oil filters should never be thrown along with other garbage as it contains quite a lot of toxic motor oil residue. 


Modern oil filters are designed to be completely recycle-friendly. You can get back a lot of steel and dirty motor oil by recycling them. To recycle the used oil filters from your salvage car, pack your oil filters in sealed plastic bags and head to the nearest collection centre for these parts.



2. Motor Oil (recycle)

It is illegal to throw away used motor oil in most jurisdictions due to the toxic impact it can have on the environment and local water supply. If your salvage car came with dirty oil, get it changed at your local garage.  


If you are in the habit of changing the oil in your own garage, don’t throw away the dirty oil. Collect it and take it to a nearby recycling/collection center where it can be cleaned and reused. Motor oil is ideal for recycling since it never gets used up inside the engine, unlike gasoline or diesel.

Canadians consume over 200 million litres of motor oil each year, and most of it is recycled.



3. Windshield Glass (recycle)

If your salvage car was wrecked in a collision, chances are high that a few glass panes may need to be replaced. Traditionally, cracked and damaged windshields usually ended up in landfills, due to their complicated design (two sheets of glass with a plastic layer in the middle). 


But technology has developed enough to allow even cracked auto glass to be recycled. They can separate the glass from the plastic and use it in the manufacture of bottles and fibreglass insulation. Even the plastic layers can be used in making carpet glue among other things.



4. Engine (reclaim)

Auto engines are made to last a long time. If your salvage car has a damaged engine, there is a high chance that you can get it repaired by a skilled mechanic. The cost of the repair will, of course, depend on the severity of the damage suffered by your salvage vehicle.  


But in many instances, it will be less expensive than getting a brand new or remanufactured engine block, and good for the environment. If you are a DIY enthusiast, you can make an excellent project out of this as well!



5. Rims, Handles, other Metal Parts (recycle)

Cars contain a lot of metal parts that are made from aluminum and valuable alloys. And in the case of salvage cars, many of these parts may show some damage. When stuff like rims has been damaged, the best thing to do is get a new set. 


But you should not throw away the old metal parts in these instances. You can get good money by selling them at a scrapyard. Melted down, they can yield the base metals which can be used to create other parts.

Cracked windshields awaiting recycling at a facility. Over 1.2 million windshields are replaced each year in Canada.



6. Car Batteries (recycle)

With incredibly toxic materials like lead and acid inside, car batteries are one of the most dangerous waste parts you can find. In the US and Canada, there are strict laws on managing decommissioned car batteries. An estimated 98-99% of all used batteries end up getting recycled. 


The laws require garages and auto shops to ship all used batteries to recycling centers. In some cases, they can even be sent back to the original manufacturer. The lead and plastic case of the battery can be melted down and used again. The acid has to be neutralized. Check out the process in this highly informative video by Battery Council International.



7. Starters and Alternators (reclaim)

The electrical system inside your car cannot function without these vital parts. And they can be quite expensive when bought brand new. When you buy a salvage car on a bargain, you might often find these parts malfunctioning or close to the end of their life cycle. 


But the good thing is that alternators and starters can be repaired and reclaimed, often at a minimal cost. If you are comfortable working with electrical components, you can repair these things with just simple tools.



8. Hoses and Belts (reclaim/recycle)

With these components, it all boils down to the condition they are in when you buy a salvage car. Often, belts in good condition are reclaimed from junked vehicles before they head to the scrapyard. 


Rubber hoses can also be reused if they are still in working condition. If not, you can take them to a recycling center where they accept used rubber components. These parts usually end up getting shredded and used in creating synthetic tracks, playground surfaces, and roads. 

Most parts of the car engine, including hoses, belts, alternators, and water pumps can either be recycled or repaired.



9. Water Pump (reclaim/recycle)

A critical component for the engine block, water pumps are located in a hard-to-reach area of your car. This means that replacing one can be expensive, with the actual part costing only a fraction of the labour charges involved.


If you are handy with a wrench and comfortable working with the internals of your car engine, you can replace or repair a faulty water pump on your own. Do note that if the internal bearings of this component are busted, you can no longer repair it. But you can get some cash if you return these pumps to auto parts stores instead of throwing it away.



10. Tires, Carpeting, and Mats (recycled)

Manufactured from rubber, plastics, and other polymers, these components are not biodegradable and should never be thrown away. Rubber parts end up getting recycled and used in landfills and in the creation of construction materials. 


The plastics can be reused to create new parts. You can even get some cash by depositing used tires and carpets at recycling centers. Look for a collection or drop-off center near you.




Recycled or reclaimed salvage car parts are great from an economic and environmental perspective. With the increasing focus on sustainable living these days, it is quite easy to find recycling stations across Canada. 


This has undoubtedly made living with a used or salvage car much simpler and hassle-free. If you know your way around a car, you can even make some cash by repairing and recycling damaged parts from salvage cars!


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