How to Dispose of Oil, Transmission Fluid, Antifreeze, and Other Car Fluids

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Just about every auto part is salvageable and recyclable, including its metals, plastics, and fluids. While metal and plastic vehicle components are repurposed to reduce waste, automotive fluids need proper disposal because of their toxicity.

Professional auto shops are held to high standards when it comes to disposing or recycling vehicle fluids, though the specifics vary between states and counties. The average car owner is not monitored to the same extent. However, for the sake of environmental health and even the safety of animal and human lives, car owners should practice proper automotive fluid disposal.

Every fluid in today’s cars requires special disposal or can be recycled. Regulations vary by area and fluid type. Common car fluids include engine oil, engine coolant/antifreeze, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and various cleaning or waxing products. Whereas motor oil can be cleaned and reused, engine coolant requires disposal at a special facility in a process that differs greatly from transmission fluid disposal, for example. Follow these four guidelines for safely disposing of car fluids:

1. Never Dispose of Fluids by Dumping

Do not dump car fluids on the ground, into a storm drain, or into a septic tank. The toxicity of the fluids will harm the soil and contaminate water supplies, affecting animal populations and potentially humans as well.

2. Store Fluids Separately in Sealed Containers

Keep all different car fluids separate from one another — the disposal methods for specific fluids after drop-off at collection centers can vary greatly. Car fluids can be highly flammable or poisonous. Awaiting disposal, they need to be stored in tightly sealed containers kept away from children, pets, and places where they are likely to spill. The containers specific fluids come in often work well for storage after use. Make sure to leave some air space in the container in case the fluid expands.

2. Research Disposal Requirements

Depending on the type of fluid, it may need to be taken to a hazardous waste drop-off site. Look for descriptive words like “caution,” “warning,” “danger,” “poison,” or “corrosive” on a fluid container’s label to determine if it needs to be taken to such a site. Some fluids can be turned in to your local auto body shop to be properly disposed of. Contact local, state, and federal regulations and your local waste management company to learn about regulations and locations.

4. Arrange Transportation

You can either take car fluids to the appropriate drop-off location yourself or potentially hire a company to pick them up for you. If you’re transporting fluids yourself, make sure they are tightly sealed in containers to prevent spills while traveling — especially if driving to a place on winding roads. Some hazardous waste companies will come to your home to pick up dangerous materials. Be sure to see what disposal companies near you have to offer.


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Rigoberto

9 years of experience
706 reviews
Rigoberto
9 years of experience
Chevrolet Equinox - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Niles, Illinois
Rigo was great! He got there early, finished the job early, left everything clean. He changed my rear pads and rotors. The original quoted time was 90 minutes, he was done in about 60. He knows what he is doing and I am recommending him to all my friends and coworkers.
Mercedes-Benz C250 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Chicago, Illinois
Rigo is a maverick hands down. Don’t take your car for work elsewhere. Especially great at Mercedes—this guy knows his profession! I will be using him for everything related to my car going forward.

Arturo

25 years of experience
35 reviews
Arturo
25 years of experience
Kia Forte - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Diego, California
ARTURO is great! very professional , fast, replaced my front brake pads and oil an filter change. everything now works and works well. Brakes have much improved stopping power and engine is smooth and quiet.Arturo is also kind and thoughtful. "Your mechanic" is very fortunate to have Arturo Lopez represent your company. I enthusiastically recommend him and "Your mechanic> as a fine operation Best regards to the Team Peter Marto
Nissan Maxima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Diego, California
Arturo was prompt and completed my brake repair, including new rotors in a very efficient manner. I am very pleased with the quality of the work and the parts and will definitely look to have him service our other car in the near future.

Scott

32 years of experience
345 reviews
Scott
32 years of experience
Lexus IS250 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Denver, Colorado
Always on time, speedy, professional, and pleasant to interact with. The work is always consistent and we'll done. I can't reccomend Scott highly enough!

Michael

10 years of experience
15 reviews
Michael
10 years of experience
Nissan Sentra - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Conyers, Georgia
He was promptly on time and got the job done efficiently in a timely manner. I really appreciate the rapid respone on getting the job done! I would most definitely use this service again.

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