What Components From the Average Vehicle Are Recyclable?

Almost everyone knows that vehicles can be recycled, but not as many people are aware of the parts of vehicles that can be recycled and repurposed. In this entry, we take a look at the recyclable materials that are found in the average vehicle by weight, what percentages of the materials are found there, and to what ends they can be recycled and reused.

Ferrous Metal

By weight, roughly 69 percent of the average vehicle is comprised of ferrous metal, which can be used as metal that is reprocessed to create components for new vehicles. In the field of auto recycling, ferrous metal is often referred to as scrap metal. It is a metal that can be fully recycled to create new car frames, new car bodies, and other important automotive components.

Non-Ferrous Metal

The weight of the average vehicle is comprised of roughly 8 percent of non-ferrous metal. Non-ferrous metal may also be labeled scrap metal. However, it typically consists of metals that are moderately precious to highly precious, such as aluminum, brass, copper, nickel, tin, lead zinc, gold, and silver. These metals can often be recycled to produce new auto parts.


The construction of the average vehicle features roughly 9 percent of plastics. Automotive plastics have become increasingly common in recent years, as they help auto manufacturers to cut costs and make cars weigh less so they can experience more torque. Thankfully, all most all of that plastic can be recycled into new car plastics and plastics for other types of products.


About 3 percent of the average vehicle’s weight is comprised of glass, most of which is found in the windows. Because window glass is highly refined regarding clarity and strength, it is one of the best types of glass to reprocess into new products, from windshields, to residential window panes, to everyday glass products that have nothing specifically to do with auto recycling.


Roughly 5 percent of the weight of most vehicles is comprised of rubber. This includes tire rubber and various rubber components that are found under the hood and inside the cabin. The rubber can be recycled into a variety of new products in addition to tires and small car parts, including: rubber mulch for plant beds and playground turf, noise barriers, and boat bumpers.


2 percent of the weight of most vehicles is composed of engine fluids, specifically: gasoline, transmission fluid, window washer fluid, motor oil, and antifreeze. If a provider of auto recycling is diligent enough, it can transport these fluids to a recycler of automotive fluids. Otherwise, the liquids would likely be drained into a liquid waste disposal system and removed for disposal.

Electrical Parts

Electrical parts, such as wiring, spark plugs, and light filaments compose roughly 1 percent of the weight of the average vehicle. These components are often recycled through the process of selling used auto parts, as one might buy from a professionally operated junkyard. Technically, these parts are reused and not recycled, but it still keeps them out of a landfill and in use.


Carpets also account for roughly 1 percent of the average vehicle’s weight. In some cases, carpets are in no condition to be recycled, as they tend to develop holes, stains, and thinning upholstery over time. However, carpet can be combusted and reused as a form of energy, much the same way that old tires can be recovered and used to provide energy for work processes.


A vehicle’s battery typically accounts for about 1 percent of its total weight. A scrap metal recycler that receives cars that still have batteries may decide to sell the batteries to companies that specialize in recycling them. Because batteries contain toxic acid, it is important to choose a recycler that is dedicated to using green recycling practices to reprocess the old components.

Contact Wrench-A-Part Today

Now that you know how many recyclable materials your end-of-life vehicle contains, you can imagine what a positive difference it makes to different industries and the environment to have the components of the vehicle recycled. At Wrench-A-Part, we are dedicated to the recycling process, and forward all recyclable automotive materials to organizations that specialize in reusing them or disposing of them in the most environmentally friendly manner.

For more information about how we participate in the auto recycling process, call one of our locations in Austin, Belton, or Lubbock. We will help you recycle your vehicle!

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