How much are scrap car batteries worth?

How much are scrap car batteries worth?
10th June 20206 min read

Have you ever wondered how much old car batteries are worth? If you have any leftover batteries sitting in your garage, or if you own a vehicle that is destined for the scrapyard, it might be time to cash in.

However, how much are scrap batteries worth exactly? The question, as you might expect, isn’t a clear one. This guide will help to provide an answer, as well as detail the best way to dispose of car batteries.

The lifecycle of a car battery

Are old car batteries worth anything?

The perceived car battery scrap value incorporates a number of factors. First of all, depending on the condition of the battery, you might decide to try and sell it privately. If it’s going to be recycled, however, there’s only one main component to consider: lead value.

This is because the battery’s lead content is where the main value is found. As with any metal, the price of lead can fluctuate on a month-by-month basis. With that said, lead’s value is usually high – which means car batteries are far from worthless.

At present, you can expect to earn around £5 for each car battery recycled. Yet is this the most profitable path you can take with your old batteries?

Historical lead price per ton

Where can you sell your old car battery?

While recycling your battery as scrap is an option, it’s far from the only one that is available to you. Here are a few alternative methods you may want to consider when disposing of car batteries:

  • Car repair shop: If you’re swapping the old battery for a new one, going to a car repair shop is arguably the most convenient choice available. You won’t receive any money from the repair shop, but the scrap car battery price will be used to offset the cost of the new battery. For instance, the new battery fitting might be supplied free of charge. 
  • Local listings: When searching around for the best scrap car battery prices, you could be wise to look into the possibility of selling it privately. By using a platform such as eBay or Gumtree, you have the chance to sell a battery for whatever price you decide. Of course, this is decided on both the demand for the specific battery and the type of price you’re hoping to achieve. Due to these points, a newer battery that is still serviceable will have a better chance of selling. Note: you should only sell a battery this way if the buyer can collect. Using a courier service can be a dangerous and expensive way to transport the battery. 
  • Recondition the battery: If you have the patience, proficiency, and willingness to learn, you could decide to recondition your old car batteries. With various methods and tools available to bring life to a battery, there are plenty of entry points for would-be engineers. By reconditioning a dead battery, you might be able to reuse this in your car rather than splashing out on a new one. Alternatively, you could sell any revitalised batteries to raise some extra cash.
  • Local recycling centre: Certain councils will be happy to accept any old batteries you may have. While you can be safe in the knowledge the batteries will be recycled in an ethical manner, this option means you will miss out on any money. Local recycling centres don’t currently offer any sort of reimbursement for handing in an old battery. 

Should you remove the battery when scrapping the car?

In general, there’s one answer to the question: no. In the large majority of cases, the Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) will offer around the same value for the battery. Plus, if the scrap car is missing its battery, this will be deducted from the overall value of the vehicle.

With that said, the ATF will still take the car if it doesn’t feature a battery. So if you feel you can generate more money for the battery elsewhere, it could be worth taking this part out before signing it over to the scrap yard.

The best option: recycle car battery for cash

The previous choices are all valid directions to take when it comes to car battery disposal. Nevertheless, no other option stacks up to old battery recycling for cash through an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). 

Ultimately, this pick is the best of both worlds. As a starting point, you will still receive money for scrapping your old battery. Most importantly, however, is how much recycling will help the environment. 

On average, 90-to-95% of battery materials are recycled – and this can even go as high as 99%. This means the battery acid is neutralised, the lead melted, and water purified. The recycled materials can then be reused to create new batteries in the future.

This is great for the environment in a number of ways, both directly and indirectly. As new lead isn’t necessary for crafting batteries in the future, for example, there’s less demand for raw materials. Without needing to source and extract these raw materials, the environment is given a breather. Plus, the economy also benefits due to the more inexpensive nature of using recycled materials.

Why do you need to dispose of car battery properly?

Due to possessing the likes of sulphuric acid and lead, it’s fair to say that old car batteries are far from the type of standard items you’d find in a landfill. In fact, they are classified as hazardous waste for a reason.

If they’re not disposed of in a proper fashion, all of the harmful materials found within car batteries can leak and cause significant damage to the environment. They can pollute water supplies and soil, which will then pose a notable threat to both animals and plants. That’s also not mentioning how dangerous these batteries can be to humans. Lead can cause a number of health issues, while the acid can result in blindness.

Due to their hazardous nature, it should come as no surprise that it’s illegal to simply dump old car batteries. They need to be dealt with properly to ensure they don’t cause damage to the environment.

How are scrap car batteries recycled?

If you’re curious about how an ATF or other recycler deals with a car battery, you no longer have to wonder. Here’s a rundown of how the recycle car battery process works:

  • Breaking up the battery: To start with, the recycler will utilise a hammer mill to break the battery up into small parts.
  • In the liquid vat: All of the battery pieces are placed into a liquid vat, which helps to separate the materials. Heavy metals, such as the lead, sink to the bottom of the liquid. The plastic, on the other hand, floats as you’d expect.
  • Dealing with the plastic: With the plastic separated from the other materials, it is washed and dried. This plastic will then be shipped off to a specialist plastic recycler. From here, the specialist will turn the plastic parts into pellets, ready for use again when producing new battery cases.
  • Dealing with the lead: Once it is cleaned, the lead is placed into a smelting furnace. When it has melted down, the lead is poured into specially made moulds. As the lead rests in the moulds, impurities will float to the surface. These impurities are then scraped off. Finally, the lead is separated from the moulds and stored until new batteries need to be made. 
  • Dealing with the battery acid: A compound is utilised that neutralises the battery acid. This, ultimately, makes it less harmful for people to handle and use. It is eventually transformed into a colourless powder, which is then used for the likes of laundry detergents, textile manufacturing, and glassmaking. 
How are scrap car batteries recycled?

Can you recycle electric car batteries?

This guide has detailed how to dispose of car batteries that were made with lead and acid. However, what about the batteries used to power electric-based cars? Can these batteries also be recycled?

The good news is that, yes, electric car batteries can also go through the recycling process.

The batteries used in the latest electric car models are lithium-ion ones. If you have heard of that word before, that’s because lithium-ion is also used to power the likes of smartphones and laptops.

Before it reaches the stage of recycling, a lithium-ion car battery still has plenty to offer. When it’s removed from a vehicle, the battery can still have 80% of its charge left. As a result, the batteries can be implemented for powering the grid and storing electricity.

There are two recycling techniques for lithium-ion, and the one chosen depends on how much charge the battery has left.

  • If the battery has no charge whatsoever, it is simply put through a shredder. This way, all of the metal components, such as steel and copper, can be sorted and reused with ease. 
  • If the battery still has a charge, the process changes from shredding to freezing. Using liquid nitrogen, the battery is first frozen to ensure that it cannot react due to the charge it has left. Then when it’s neutralised, the battery is smashed into pieces. As before, the metals can then be sorted and reused. 
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