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March 23, 2018  |  Login
Tips for Disposing Your Older Vehicle
By Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay, Michael Grosvenor

If your vehicle can be resold at a reasonable value, then figuring out how to get rid of it is easy: Either trade it in when you purchase a new vehicle or sell it yourself (which can often get you a better value for it). But what if it's no longer in good enough condition to be sold - perhaps it's no longer running, requires far more repair than it's worth, or has been in a major accident - and you don't feel right about selling it on to become someone else's problem?

You may think it's time for the scrap heap, but that comes with some obvious issues. Some of the material that goes into a vehicle can be recycled or reused (the list of potential items includes liquids, such as oil and gas, metal, refrigerants from air-conditioning systems, tires, parts, and even windshields), but other material, including foams and plastics, end up shredded and in landfills.

Although programs and research are in progress to improve the situation, you can help out by checking your local resources to find out whether any municipal or state recycling programs will help you get rid of your vehicle. The U.S. EPA Web site has a section dedicated to vehicles in its Product Stewardship area that lists partners and resources for automotive end-of-life issues, including tire recycling and the removal of mercury switches from vehicles before they head to the landfill. You also can lend your voice to organizations, such as Environmental Defense Fund that are pushing for better management of vehicle end-of-life issues beginning at the manufacturing stage.

Up to 11 million vehicles reach the end of their useful lives each year in the United States, generating as much as 5 million tons of nonrecyclable waste. The U.S. Council on Automotive Research, a joint effort from DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation, is working to improve how much can be recycled or reused. Find more information at

Consider donating your older vehicle to charity: You get a receipt for a tax deduction, and the charity sells the car either at auction or perhaps to an auto recycler. As with any charity, research your local options and ensure that it's a 501(c)(3) organization that you're donating to in order to obtain the tax deduction. Try to avoid middlemen agencies that accept car donations and then pass the proceeds on to charities; a better proportion of your money actually gets to the charity if it's the charity itself that runs the donation program rather than a middleman. Charity Navigator has excellent information about car donation programs.



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