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How Car Crushers Work

For every beginning there's an end. Every shiny new car on the showroom floor will one day end up in a junkyard, its value no greater than the weight of the metal used to build it. North American auto plants built 15.8 million cars in 2005 -- all of which have to end up somewhere [Source: Business Week]. One of the most important stops an old car reaches at the end of the line is the crusher -- a massive machine whose only purpose is to compress a car into a tiny cube or flattened slab.

In this article we'll learn what a car crusher is, how they crush and why take the time to turn a car into a brick of steel.

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A car crusher is a piece of machinery used to compress the metal remains of a junked car after it has been stripped of all useful parts. Compressing them takes up less space when stored, or when transported via truck or train to a recycling facility. A crusher is just one step of the auto-recycling process. They can also be used to compact other forms of metal waste, such as old appliances or even large machines like combines.

­ A car crusher
­ A car crusher

Crushers can be portable or stationary. Older machines tend to be stationary -- once they're set up in a scrap yard, they stay there. Today, most crushers are portable. They are built mounted to a standard-size truck trailer, and can be towed to various locations, set up, used to crush some things, then moved somewhere else. This helps cut costs for auto salvage yards - instead of buying an expensive machine, they can split the cost with other yards or rent time on a crusher that comes by once a week.

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