Take a walk through any junkyard in the world and you're likely to come across any number of vehicles that are a mere rusted-out shell of their former selves. That's mostly because sheet metal is thin and, as the outer-most skin of an automobile, takes the brunt of the weather's nastiest beatings. Underneath, it's a different story entirely.
An article on AOL Autos examines the major bits and pieces of an automobile and offers rough estimates of how long it takes for the average vehicle to rot away, and there are a few surprises. For instance, rubber tires decompose naturally over a fairly reasonable-sounding period of 50 to 80 years. Wait, what's that? Engine blocks will take at least 500 years to break down? Ouch.
Worse yet are the polyurethane seat cushions under your fine leather interior: they take at least 1,000 years to decompose. The longest-lasting piece of your car, though, is the glass, which never really goes away. It will reportedly take a million years or more before your vehicle's windshield is ground down to powder.
Fortunately, we generally don't bury old cars in the ground. Nearly every bit of modern automobiles is recyclable, and automakers have been making serious advancements to bring that figure as close to 100 percent as possible. USCAR says that about 95 percent of vehicles go through the end-of-life recycling process. Still, AOL Auto's sobering figures should serve to remind us how important it is to properly dispose of used-up vehicular machinery, especially with the advent of government-sponsored scrapping programs.
[Source: AOL Autos | Photo: nico.cavallotto]