What to Do with Old Car Batteries (Safe Disposal & Recycling)

If you have recently replaced a car battery and now have an old one lying around, it is important to know how to handle it properly.

Disposing of old car batteries in landfills is not allowed. Instead, consider selling it if it is still functional or donating it for recycling.

Recycling or careful disposal are the most appropriate options for old car batteries. Throwing it away is both illegal and hazardous. If you have expertise in battery repair, you could also attempt fixing it. Also, old car batteries can be used in DIY projects requiring 12 volts of DC.

I will go into more detail below.

Disconnecting a Car Battery

alert sign in red

Battery acid is highly corrosive. It is lead-contaminated sulfuric acid. Don’t let it touch your skin or clothing. It can cause severe burns and blindness. Wear safety gloves and goggles to protect yourself.

Here are some important things to keep in mind when disconnecting it for disposal, recycling, or otherwise:

  • Disconnect the cable from the negative terminal first.
  • Check all the sides carefully for any marks, dents, or cracks. Contact a professional mechanic or breakdown service for severe dents or leaks. The risk from moving it yourself is much greater than if it’s not dented or cracked.
  • Cover the terminals to avoid accidentally shorting the battery.
  • Keep the battery upright.
  • Lead-acid batteries are very heavy. Be careful when lifting them. Use a trolley or ask another person to help you lift it.

Recycling a Car Battery

If you prefer to recycle the old car battery, take it to your nearest vehicle battery store or a hazardous waste disposal company.

They will recover up to 95-100% of the lead from the battery. The rest of the parts may be used to make new batteries, automobile parts, or other plastic items. The processing is usually EPA certified to ensure complete separation of all salvageable material.

Recycling is a good way of getting rid of an old battery instead of disposing it as trash. It’s beneficial for the environment, even if you’re charged a little, although you won’t benefit from using it yourself.

Disposing of a Car Battery

a pile of old car batteries

You shouldn’t simply dispose of a car battery or send it to a landfill.

Technically, you can, but only if they’ve thoroughly cleaned up. So consider having it recycled instead.

If you decide to dispose of it, it must be done very carefully because of the lead and acid, which are highly dangerous. They must be removed first. Otherwise, they can contaminate the soil and groundwater.

It’s illegal to throw away a car battery like trash.

Repairing and Creative Uses

If you’re an expert, only attempt to repair a battery or use it creatively.

Otherwise, the risk is too high. This article doesn’t cover them in depth, but they’re two more options. A car battery provides 12 volts of DC power so that you can use them in many projects, such as:

  • A car battery charger
  • Toys that operate on 12 volts
  • A go-kart
  • A portable lighting system
  • A portable solar power generator


Video Reference

Sweet Project Cars

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About Alex Robertson

c3c9d43f1f0d14c4b73cb686f2c81c4e?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.M.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Mechanical Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a co-founder, content strategist, and writer and a close friend of our co-owner, Sam Orlovsky. I received my Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree from Denver, where we studied together. My passion for technical and creative writing has led me to help Sam with this project.

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