How Car Crushers Work

Why Crush Cars?

Parts for resale after being stripped from a car.
Photo courtesy of Cooksville Auto Recycling

Why do we need to crush cars? The most obvious reason is so they take up less space. But why are we scrapping, shredding and junking cars to begin with? Recycling cars is a lucrative business, and it makes environmental sense.

The sale of reusable salvage from old cars is only a small piece of the auto recycling pie. About 65 percent of a junked car is made from steel (the rest is made from other metals plus glass, rubber and upholstery). The price for scrap steel and iron, though volatile, often hovers around $250 per ton. Expanding economies in Asia have lead to greater demand for scrap steel, bolstering the market worldwide. With 14 million tons of steel from cars being scrapped each year contributing to an industry-wide total of 76 million tons of recycled steel and iron, it's easy to see that auto recycling is a multibillion dollar industry [Source: ISRI].


Recycling metal uses about 74 percent less energy than making new steel, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Recycled steel is cheaper as well, since new ore doesn't have to be mined to produce it. All steel produced today has at least 25 percent recycled steel in it, and some products are made entirely from recycled steel. So in addition to the economic and environmental benefits, recycling cars is a vital link in the world's industrial infrastructure.

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More Great Links


  • Al-Jon. "Al-Jon 580 CL Car Logger."
  • BBC News. "Man 'helped killer after seeing murder'."
  • BusinessWeek. "The Good News About America's Auto Industry." Feb. 13, 2006.
  • Environmental Protection Agency. "Steel."
  • Henricks, Mark. "Equipment Spotlight: Auto Crushers." American Recycler, Nov. 2005.
  • Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. "Industry Overview." 2FTaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=101&ContentID=6102#17068151686768307147
  • Williams, Fred O. "Firm's machine chews up 6 cars a minute." Buffalo News, May 28, 2007.