How to Dispose of Car Batteries

You may be the owner of a dated vehicle that has been declared dead. You may have made the decision to disassemble it, sell whatever you can, and recycle the rest.

After taking out the battery, you notice it is a complete mess—corroded, white, and perhaps even leaking a little. This battery is, in essence, a total waste. How should you handle it? How do you get rid of an old car battery?

Why Can’t You Just Throw It In The Trash?

Your automobile’s battery uses lead and acid to provide a long-lasting and dependable charge. Both of these compounds are toxic to the environment and to your health. An encased battery is safe to handle, but incorrect battery disposal is hazardous

Do not just dispose of your batteries in your household garbage or recycle them. These hazardous items must be disposed of appropriately, and you will be compensated for doing so in most situations. What you don’t want to happen is for a battery to end up in a landfill or garbage pile, where the sulfuric acid and lead can cause serious environmental problems.

According to the EPA, 98% of lead-acid batteries are recycled properly. Join other Americans in learning how to securely remove, store, and dispose of your old automobile battery.

There are several ways to recycle automobile batteries properly, so learn how you can protect the environment while also avoiding any health risks associated with incorrect battery disposal.

How to Safely Dispose of Old Car Batteries

Car Battery Disposal

The simple answer is no; you do not. Not if “dispose of” means “throw in the garbage can.” There are methods for disposing of old batteries, but they cannot be tossed out with the rest of your garbage. Batteries contain dangerous components and must be treated as such, so whether you like it or not, you’ll have to give your old battery some extra care towards the end of its life.

Removing a Car Battery Safely

Whether your battery has lasted three, five, or even ten years or more, it may be beyond its prime. An outdated battery does not maintain a charge for long, does not perform well in severe temperatures, and is prone to leakage. However, before you change your battery, you must securely remove it.

Here are some straightforward instructions for removing your automobile battery:

Safety First

First, you’ll need to put on gloves and other gear. Old batteries may develop leaks, and contact with battery acid is hazardous.

Disconnect the Negative and Positive Cable 

Disconnect the wire from your battery’s negative terminal. It should be coated in black or gray. The terminal’s nut must be loosened using a wrench. Make sure your wrench does not touch both terminals at the same time.

In the same manner, take the cable covered in red out of the positive terminal.

Check And Remove

After the battery connections are removed, practically all batteries will also have a hold-down mechanism at the bottom of the battery in the shape of a strap or block. This will have to be deleted as well. Check to determine whether your battery has a strap, clip, or other safety mechanisms that keep it in place. 

After you’ve removed them, inspect your battery for cracks, punctures, or other surface defects that might lead to a battery fluid leak. Extreme caution is required while dealing with a leaking battery. Battery acid may irritate the skin, cause burns, and potentially create long-term health problems.

Bonus Tip: If you’re unsure where your battery is or which terminal is positive or negative, take your car to a nearby auto parts store or one of our preferred shops for assistance. When the battery is detached, many cars require a separate power source to maintain a steady 12V of electricity for the vehicle.

Check your service manual or internet sources to see whether your vehicle is one of these. If you’re unsure about the state of your old battery, AutoZone is a fantastic place to go. Even if you’re experiencing trouble charging your battery, it’s possible that the problem is with your alternator or other associated components.

Storing and Transporting Your Old Battery

Fill a plastic shopping bag with your old vehicle battery. To prevent the oil and filth from your old battery from staining your car as you transport it, use double sacks or a thick, heavy-duty alternative. Plastic bags can help keep any battery fluid spill secure.

Store or transport a car battery on its side at all times. Some automotive batteries have vent covers that might leak acid if they are not kept upright. Take care when storing and transporting your battery to avoid it being jostled, tilted, or dropped. All of these jarring motions have the potential to harm your old battery.

Recycling Old Car Batteries

Used car batteries need to be recycled in places that are prepared to handle them. Usually, this refers to a scrap metal plant, a garage, or a municipal recycling center. When replacing a car battery, you can typically turn in the old one at the same place you buy the new one.

If you’re planning to dismantle the entire vehicle, it might be best to leave the battery in place. Any authorized scrap metal yard that is equipped to handle end-of-life automobiles should also be able to process the batteries. If you removed the battery or discovered an old vehicle battery in your workshop, you’ll need to do a bit more research to identify the best spot to dispose of it.

While some of the listed locations, such as a garage or local recycling facility, may accept your used battery, you may also hunt for any local recycling facility near you.

These are the same facilities that take junk automobiles for recycling, and they can handle old batteries or transport them to specialized recycling facilities. You can search for recycling facilities on Earth911.


Old Car Battery Disposal

Is tossing batteries in the trash illegal?

Car battery recycling is not only beneficial to the environment but also legal. Many states have established legislation making it unlawful to dispose of automobile batteries by tossing them out. If you want another incentive to recycle your car battery, consider this: you may get paid to do it!

A core charge is included with battery purchases. When you buy a new battery, you must pay a core charge deposit at the point of purchase. The core fee is reimbursed when the old battery is returned to the retailer.

In most Advance Auto Parts locations, you may drop off your old battery even if you’re not buying a new one and get cash back in the form of store credit. It’s time to search your garage for old batteries and recycle them!

Can dead batteries explode?

It is possible, although it is rare. Most batteries, particularly lithium batteries, can overheat and explode when overcharged. When a spark or flame is present, lead-acid batteries emit hydrogen gas, which can explode if not properly evacuated (Note: Light switches, as well as many metals, produce sparks; hitting each other can produce sparks).

When a battery reaches the end of its life, the hazards remain the same; the only change is that they are no longer supervised and may be stored in settings that increase the risk of harm.

While a ‘dead’ Li-ion battery will no longer operate a car, it will still maintain roughly 80% of its charge. This implies that if a battery is not disposed of properly, there is a high risk of fire, explosion, or leaking.

Is the white powder emitted by the battery hazardous to the human body?

It has the potential to be detrimental to the human system. Red patches may form if the discharged substance comes into contact with the skin. You should also be cautious since the batteries have zinc and manganese.

Inhaling zinc oxide powder can cause chills and fever, a condition known as “zinc poisoning.” When this dust enters the lungs by inhaling, it clings to the lungs and reduces breathing capacity, resulting in inflammation and blood sputum. Manganese can potentially produce a condition known as “manganese pneumonia.”

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