Automotive dismantling and recycling is huge part of the industry, and it often gets overlooked. Even if a car is at the end of its life, approximately 80 per cent of the vehicle can be reused or recycled.
For students in auto mechanic training, knowing how to strip a car efficiently can be a valuable skill. Garages and custom shops will often buy scrap cars for parts, since recycling is also common in auto body repair and vintage vehicle restoration.
Those pursuing careers in the auto industry know that environmental concerns are currently a huge driving force in many sectors, and auto recycling plays a huge part in increasing sustainability. Using recycled parts rather than manufacturing new ones can save an estimated 80 million barrels of oil per year. Additionally, opting for scrap metal rather than raw ore can reduce the air pollution generated by a steel mill by up to 86 per cent.
Fortunately, it’s easier to take a car apart than to put it back together. While it can take some time and a fair amount of heavy labor, the process is surprisingly straightforward. Here’s how to dismantle a car—the easy way.
How To Dismantle A Car
- Remove the hood and disconnect the battery
- Disconnect all engine hoses and wires
- Disconnect the transmission and exhaust system
- Drain the gas, oil and transmission fluids
Tip: Soak down bolts and fasteners with PB Blaster to make them easier to remove.
Green Fact: The fluid reclaimed by auto dismantlers every year is equivalent to 8 Exxon Valdez disasters!
2. Next, Remove the Engine
- Remove the front grill
- Attach the engine hoist
- Unbolt the engine mounts
- Raise the engine in the air
Tip- You can break down an old engine to find reusable components.
Green Fact: Rebuilt engines use 75% less energy and 80% less carbon dioxide than new models.
3. Strip the Engine Compartment
- Unbolt and remove the battery
- Take out the radiator and fan
- Remove the carburetor
- Disconnect the alternator belt and alternator
Tip: Bag and label your parts as you remove them, making note of any problems.
Green Fact: Car batteries are one of the most recycled products, with a 98-99% recycling rate!
4. Strip the Undercarriage
- Raise the car to remove the transmission and exhaust
- Remove the tires
- Unscrew brake pads and rotors
- Clear out drums, shoes and brake lines
Tip: If you’re planning to rebuild later on, take pictures to make your refit easier.
Green Fact: Recycled tires can be turned into rubberized asphalt for highways.
5. Dismantle the Body of the Car
- Remove the fenders, bumpers and trunk hood
- Carefully cut and remove the windows
- Remove the doors and lights
- Cut rear panels and roof supports to remove the roof
Tip: Most trim is held with clips and easy to pry off, but some cars use bolts.
Green Fact: 40% of the ferrous metal in the scrap industry comes from dismantled cars.
6. Finally, Remove the Vehicle’s Interior
- Remove the dashboard
- Take out seats and carpeting
- Only the chassis should remain
- Cut the frame into smaller pieces with a blowtorch
Tip: Keep a fire extinguisher close by—auto dismantling can be a dangerous job!
Green Fact: Recycled plastic parts can be made into carpeting, and old car mats can be made back into plastic.