Whether you’re working from your carport or a professional garage, you should always safely store and dispose of all automotive parts, products and fluids. When handled improperly, these items can mean trouble for your health and that of the environment.
Some commonly used automotive products:
- windshield wash
- propylene glycol
- gas line antifreeze
- lock deicer
- automotive fluids
- radiator coolant
- brake and clutch fluids
- transmission fluid
- carburetor power steering fluid
- car cleaners
- car waxes and polishes
- tire and white-wall cleaner
Why it matters
USED OIL – Used oil contains all kinds of toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. As you might guess, these materials should never be put in the garbage or poured down the drain.
WHAT ABOUT FILTERS?
Can used oil filters can be thrown in the trash? Only if you take the proper precautions before tossing them:
- Remove any remaining oil by puncturing the filter and letting it drain over a container.
- Add the recovered oil to your collection of used oil.
- Wrap the filter carefully in a rag or paper towel and place it with your regular household garbage.
ANTIFREEZE – Antifreeze has a sweet taste which makes it attractive to children, pets and wild animals, but it is still highly toxic. In fact, even a small antifreeze spill can be fatal for pets. What’s more, if poured down the drain, it can interfere with sewage treatment and septic systems.
GASOLINE – No news here: Gasoline is highly flammable and can be explosive. It contains benzene, a known carcinogen, and other toxic compounds that can quickly vaporize. Diesel and alternative fuels such as methanol or ethanol also can ignite.
AUTOMOTIVE BATTERIES – Automotive batteries (lead-acid batteries) don’t belong in a landfill. Lead is a heavy metal known to be harmful to people and animals and that can contaminate drinking water supplies.
What you can do
1. Store it safely
Automotive products should live in their original, labeled containers. Also, recovered fluids (such as oil) should be stored in clean, unbreakable child-proof containers that have been tightly sealed and labelled. Remember that storing products in food or beverage containers can lead to accidental consumption, and avoid mixing different products together. Lastly, it is always a good idea to wear protective eyewear and gloves when working with automotive fluids.
2. Dispose of it properly
Landfills are no place for hazardous car care products. Dispose of them properly.
- Lubricating, crankcase, gear oil, and transmission fluid can all be brought to any oil retailer, free of charge. (As for oil filters, they should be thoroughly drained, tied in a plastic bag, and disposed of in regular garbage.) Find your nearest drop-off location.
- Old batteries from vehicles can often be exchanged at the automotive supply retailer when a new battery is purchased. Many scrap metal recyclers will also accept these batteries. Find your nearest drop-off location.
- Regional waste management authorities offer drop-offs and collection events where you can bring automotive fluids and other hazardous products from your home. Find your nearest drop-off site.