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Recycling and Disposing of Automotive ChemicalsNotes From the Road

At Your Disposal
By Mike Bumbeck/

How to Properly Recycle and Dispose of Automotive Chemicals -
Professional mechanics and businesses that deal with fixing cars are held to the strictest of rules concerning disposal and recycling. These rules apply whether the business just changes automotive oil or only sells tires. In fact, automobiles are one of the most recycled consumer goods on the planet. Fluids, metals, plastics, and every other part of the modern automobile is salvaged and reused—sometimes even for another car or truck.

These same rules and common sense practices are not legislated onto the do-it-yourselfer or average automobile consumer. The responsibility to recycle used engine oil, coolant, and other products of driveway maintenance or repair is the sole responsibility of the shade tree mechanic. Specific regulations on disposal and recycling vary greatly by state and even county. Regardless of location, automotive fluids cannot simply be thrown away for a number of reasons.
Oil Slick
Every internal combustion automobile engine needs an oil and oil filter change at regular intervals. Multiply these changes by the number of vehicles on the road and the sheer volume of oil to deal with becomes apparent. The good news is that recycling used motor oil is easier than ever before. Proper disposal of used engine oil starts before the first drop of oil is drained. Purchase a container designed to catch used oil that can be sealed up tight. Used engine oil can then easily be brought in for recycling after an oil change. Catch containers are available at nearly every auto parts store.
A large drip tray is another good idea that will prevent the oil, which always seems to miss the catch container, from ever reaching the ground. Oil filters should also be brought in with the used oil. Some city recycling programs even supply used oil containers for use with curbside recycling. A good bet is to only purchase new oil from a place that accepts used oil in return. Never mix any other automotive fluids in with used oil. The old stuff is cleaned up and used as a base for other lubricants, heating oil and even more engine oil.

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