We frequently get questions – both here and on our social media – asking if we’ll recycle certain items. More often than not, if it’s metal we will. But we prefer to have items that only contain the scrap metals we deal in.

We do have some nifty tools around here for achieving those goals. We have a wire stripper that will swiftly and safely remove the insulation from old ethernet and coax cables so that we can give you top prices for the copper in the middle. We have an industrial can crusher to take care of your aluminum.

Vehicles, however, are trickier. We’re not an auto shop, and everything that’s not metal will need to be sent out to other recyclers. For that reason, we won’t take a complete car or truck.

If you do a bit of the grunt work, however, there’s a ton of valuable metal in that old clunker.

Every year, around 12 million vehicles are sent to scrap yards – basically junk yards. Many of them will salvage usable parts and resell them. If you need a door for a 1993 Acura, a scrap yard may be a good place to call. They’re also a good source of hard-to-find auto glass and some mechanical parts.

Once you break it down into its components, about 80% of today’s vehicles can be recycled. There are places like ours that recycle tires, batteries, and even the cloth and foam that make up the seats.

We’re not that place.

The first thing you need to do is make certain that you have the title to the vehicle. If it’s not yours, nobody is going to want it. You’re also going to want to cancel the insurance. They’re not going to cover what you’re about to do to your vehicle. Remove the license plates, as you’ll need to turn those in to DMV.

Next, remove the battery and drain any fluids. Be careful to do this properly, as most localities have pretty hefty fines for improper disposal of things like batteries and motor oil. You’ll also need to remove any old mercury switches and any airbags. Those all qualify as hazardous materials.

Now it’s time to move on to the non-metallic components.

Remove the tires. Strip the interior of the seats, carpets, and headliner. Remove the door cards, and any plastic around the windows, the trunk or hatch, and the dashboard. At this point, most of the interior wiring should be exposed, so start pulling that. That’s going to be copper, like those computer and coax cables, and is frequently more valuable than the aluminum and steel in the rest of the vehicle.

By the time it gets to us, your vehicle should be a completely stripped frame and body. It’s not a simple task to strip a car or truck, and to be honest, you need some specialized tools and a bit of mechanical know-how to do it.

Someone asked us about recycling an old RV. By the time they went through all of the trouble of breaking it down, rented a dumpster and trailer, they calculated that they would spend around $3,000 for about $800 in metal scrap.

It can be done, but you have to weigh the benefits.