Junk cars can be melted down

What is the process to melt down junk cars? Are they just thrown in a furnace? What if junk cars were dropped in a volcano?

[quote=“ArlHtsMelissa, post:1, topic:118708”]
What if junk cars were dropped in a volcano?

You can’t be serious .

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I am seriously asking that question?

They are usually shredded first, and then ferrous and non-ferrous metals are separated with magnets and by other means.
There used to be a large car shredding plant close to where I worked and every once in a while, someone would forget to remove a gas tank. A loud thunderous Ka-BOOM would occur and huge clouds of smoke would billow into the sky.
Once, that happened while I was at the plant trying to get a magnet crane going for them. I was just going to close the magnet contactor with a long stick to see if it would work that way and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The shredder blew and huge sheets of plywood that covered the machine sailed through the air.
The place still buys scrap metal but they moved the shredder to a new location more suitable to industrial use.
The shredder was essentially a large hammermill powered by a 1200 horsepower 4160 volt three phase motor.


So the melted material gets poured into a mold?

BLE gave a fairly good overview.

We have car shredding operation in our city. The first step before flattening a car at the junk yard is to remove the gas tank, wheels, battery, drain the A/C refrigerant, and drain the cooling system. All these are required by law. Batteries go to battery recycling plants where the lead is recovered.

The flattened cars are shipped to the central shredder where they go through a gigantic hammer mill that shreds them into 2 inch or so pieces. Steel parts are magnetically separated, as a powerful air blast removes the “fluff”, those non metallic parts such as upholstery, rubber, carpet, etc. The fluff is often burned where legal. Where not, it has to be landfilled or recycled.

The shedding yard also receives local wrecks that are not flattened for transport. The yard then goes through the same process. On the prairies there are no blast furnaces to make steel; all steel is made electrically from scrap of cars, machinery, appliances, etc. Of course the steel is melted down and poured into ingots (molds) and then sold for further processing into sheet steel, pipe or other forms. Here it goes mostly into oilfield tubing, pipe and drill rods.

To answer your rhetorical question of dropping cars into volcanos, there may not be enough heat at that level to get proper melting. Besides, the US department of the environment would not allow it.

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It can be. YouTube is your friend here

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So the massive junk yards I see are removing some of their junk and adding new junk all the time. It is not just junk cars just sitting there forever taking up more and more space.

Good recycling yards strip and catalog the sellable parts, remove the “fluff” - upholstery, seats, plastics - and crush the cars. If scrap steel prices are up, they sell, if not, they hold back.

Most the high end yards don’t keep anything around more than 10-15 years or so, parts included as there isn’t much market. The U-Pick-Ur-Part places have the old stuff because the labor cost to strip cars is too high to make any money on the old stuff. And the part prices are really cheap.

Scrap automobiles are used in lower quality products because there are too many impurities in the melt. The iron oxidizes before a lot of the impurities, and the tramp elements are just left. Nails, lower quality screws and bolts, rails, and construction steel are the type of products manufactured from scrap. Note that when I say low quality, I don’t mean they are poorly made, but that the steel can’t be used for high quality products like tire cord or automobile bodies.

That explains why I bend so many nails… :grin:

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Thank you for the link. I saw that video plus a few others and they were interesting.

Nails are low carbon steel, and bend easily. We used to make steel for nails, and lack of hardness was one of the complaints from our customers (they made the nails). Electric furnace steel made from scrap was the same grade of steel, but was harder because of the higher level of impurities. Their steel was cheaper and formed sharper points. We had an answer for them: we got out of that business.

That new Bentley you see on the road right now might have been a 1982 Ford Escort and a 1990 Hyundai Excel a few months ago.

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So when a car is donated to Cartalk, what happens to it?

You’re asking us if you are serious?
How would we know?


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Swap a period for the question mark.

When you deal in scrap metals, you wait as long as possible for the best price before sending to the foundry. But sooner or later you have to divest yourself to make room for more…

Some trim nails seem to be the hardest steel made. Not sure why but may be required due to their aspect ratio- super long but really thin.

We don’t take in derelict cars or cars of any type for that matter. This is a car care help site to solve problems and recommend cars and parts.

If you donate a car to a Registered Charity, they give you a tax credit slip, and they sell the car to a wrecker or recycler and pocket the money. I’m assuming you know how to fill out an income tax form.

If the car is driveable and has some life left in it they wholesale it to an independent garage who will make it fir for the road.