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Auto Recycling

Where buying a recycled auto part will save more than the planet--it'll save you big bucks!

Here are the stats:
Every year in Canada, there are 160,000 car accidents. Many of these cars are totalled (what insurance companies would call a total loss) and a large percentage of them end up in scrap yards.

As far as I've been able to ascertain, there's no governing body setting standards in Canada for scrapyards. (You can read more about this issue here). Which means that lots of the following toxins are leaking out of those destroyed cars and into our earth and water:
* mercury
* gasoline
* anti-freeze (people with pets know how deadly this sweet-tasting stuff can be)
* freon (from air conditioning units)
* battery acid
* motor oil

Perhaps the saddest part would be the waste of perfectly good, original parts and metals. Wouldn't it be better to recycle and reuse these parts rather than dig up forests and mountains to mine more?
Well, turns out one Quebec company has been doing just that--recycling that is--since 1942.
They're called Automobiles Lecavalier.
And their goal is to save you money even as they help save the planet.

If you want to understand just how the recycling process works at Lecavalier, I suggest you watch the video they have on their website.
What they basically do is buy damaged cars from insurance companies. They then strip them, clean up the parts (while being careful to recycle the freon, gas, motor oil, etc) and catalogue them in a way that makes it easy for you to find them.
I know what you're thinking: Geeta, get to the money-saving part. All right already. Here's a sampling of prices for common car parts:

ENGINE: 2004 Honda Civic
New: $4000
Rebuilt: $2800
Recycled: $495
==========

TRANSMISSION: 2004 Mazda 3 automatic
New : $2500 +
Recycled: $495
==========

REAR TRUNK LID: 2005 Hyundai Accent
Original Equipment Manufacturer (brand new): $1025
Recycled: $320
===========

STEEL WHEEL RIM: 2005 Pontiac Sunfire
New: $100
Recycled: $25
===========

For those who've recently been acquainted with the wonderful world of car repairs (poor you), you might actually be wondering about these prices.
Turns out, you can get brand new, made-in-China parts for the same price as the recycled parts. But before you order them, consider the impact on the environment--both from having to use new materials and the energy used to manufacture them and then the shipping across the world.
Wouldn't it be better to use an original part (from a reputed manufacturer) that's been recycled? Or would it? I'd love your opinion.
Because there are some safety concerns.
From my research, it makes sense to go with a company that's reputable. And Lecavalier is endorsed by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) Philippe Fugere, the owner, assured me that all the parts he sells are thoroughly tested and guaranteed for a year or more.
But then, it's his job to sell me on the idea.
So I want to know from someone out there who's had recycled parts put into their cars: Have you had any trouble?
Did you have difficulty finding the part--was there a long wait? Or are you super happy? Please, leave me a comment or call our talkback line: (514) 597-5626

Some basic internet research suggests that experts recommend using recycled parts for non-crucial repairs: like doors, bumpers, seats, etc. And to use brand new parts for brakes, steeriing columns (with air bags in them), etc.
This seems to make sense.
And, by the way, auto repairs aren't the only things recycled car parts can be used for:

Check out Quebec designer Isabelle Berube who makes awesome bags out of car seats, seat belts and other recycled auto items.
Or this neat chess set from a designer in Mexico.

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Comments (1)

J Campbell

St_louis_de_gonzague_

I would absolutely buy recycled auto parts (mechanical) over new any day…the reason is obvious…cost.
I would also choose recycled over rebuilt. Recycled parts must be tested for resale and that’s good enough for me. It won't be stripped down, ripped apart and put back together by somebody who’s lacking experience, having a bad day or who simply doesn’t care. (just my opinion)
Thank you for doing a Be Green report on this topic, to be honest with you I was not aware of recycled auto parts. I think it’s great to have that option. I would guess this type of business would be much more environmentally aware than most scrap yards. I suppose most rebuilts came from a scrap yard at one time.
Your piece was long overdue.
Thanks.
J . Campbell

Posted August 5, 2008 08:46 PM

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