I have a 1975 Ford F-350. It gets 6 miles per gallon. I don't use it any more.

If it was fuel-efficient, I think I should get it in to someone else's driveway, so it can reduce the demand on new vehicles. But at 6mpg, that may not be the right choice.

I could sell it, take it to a junk yard, use it for storage, give it to a charity, etc.

I'm not asking about money here - selling it won't get me much. But I do want to think about the ecological impacts of my options. What are choices that align with sustainable living?

  • Use syngas -- "runs on dead cats" ;)
    – bstpierre
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 12:52

3 Answers 3


There are, obviously, two options here: recycling, and reusing (basically anything else you had mentioned in the question).


For recycling one can look for recyclers who would pick up the vehicle, and pay for it. Big truck like F-350 could fetch up to $1000 depending on the market, because it has a lot of iron in it. Those recyclers usually would save the wheels/tyres and battery to resell separately (thus reusing at least some parts), with the rest going into smasher.

Important consideration is whether recycler properly disposes of hazardous materials, such as mineral oils, coolant and other chemicals or toxic metals, as it can be a problem. For more in-depth look at environmental impact of auto-recycling, there is 1994 UCLA dissertation “Auto Recycler and Dismantler Facilities: Environmental Analysis of the Industry with a Focus on Storm Water Pollution” (PDF).

To increase reuse, one might take off and sell (eBay, Craigslist) or give away (Craigslist, Freecycle) some parts that are in demand, such as front and rear light assemblies, seats and door-panels etc.


I would bother with reusing if the vehicle is in, or can be brought to, a good mechanical condition. There is not much comparative information, but the only F-350 of that generation (F-Series sixth generation, 1973–1979) on Fuelly.com posted 10 MPG average over 9000 miles (bottom of the page, 1977). If via tune-up (that is, avoiding proper overhaul of high-mileage engine) similar results can be achieved, it is not half-bad, as even modern petrol V-8s in one ton trucks can get about 13–15 MPG).

The best thing would be upgrading the current engine to a modern after-market systems (fuel injection, electronic ignition etc.), or retrofitting newer refurbished crate motor: either petrol, or, better yet, Diesel (which can be converted to bio-diesel). For that Mechanics.SE could be of help. Unless the vehicle is really in the mint condition, it would be more of a hobby project for wrenching fun and environmental gratification, rather than something that makes economic sense.


I have two words for you, "Project Car".

Seriously, though, donate it to the auto-tech department of your county career center or community college. The students get experience by fixing it up, then proceeds from the sale fund operation of the auto-tech department.

  • 1
    Ahh, that's where I take it 1/2-way apart in a garage and leave it there for 20 years? :-)
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 17:47
  • 1
    Yeah! By then the metals will probably be considered precious.
    – OCDtech
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 19:36
  • 1
    So it's sustainable and socially good. I like it.
    – StuntGirl
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 5:51
  • I did something like this as a mechanical engineering student in college, but there was no sale. A motorcycle was donated, and students took it apart, put it back together, and repeated the cycle.
    – Nate
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 3:35

I don't have the perfect answer but as you said, even though it's not really fuel-efficient, it might be more ecological than creating a brand new car.

Especially if we consider that it could be used occasionally by someone who wouldn't need to drive a lot, this could always help that person.

(Maybe it could be recycled, could it be?)

EDIT: Remember than recycling isn't the holy-solution that many people want us to think, it takes a lot of energy/pollution to recycle. Durability or second-life should always be chosen first and recycling if no other choice IMO.

  • 1
    A vehicle that gets 6 mpg is rarely going to be more ecological than creating a brand new truck. Of course, there are edge cases, but since this question didn't identify such a case, this is likely to be bad advice vastly more than it's good advice. (part of the reason why this isn't good advice is that cars are recycled reasonably well)
    – Nate
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 23:13
  • @Nate Even if we count the cost of recycling and producing the said new car? More generally (so less specific to this question) we are pushed to planned obsolescence, ads everywhere for so said green cars where it would so often be more ecological to avoid using car and/or not buying a new one. Fixing or finding all kind of objects a second life is almost always better than recycling for numerous reasons. I could be wrong on this specific case but I can't affirm anything precisely so I don't know. Thanks a lot for your comment though.
    – jeromej
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 5:41
  • I agree that avoiding a car altogether can be great, but that's not what the question is asking. Buying a new vehicle to get a modest (5mpg or less) increase in efficiency is also probably not a good idea, given that new cars cost about 4 years worth of fuel to produce. But, when the vehicle in question gets only 6mpg, that vehicle needs to be taken off the road in the majority of cases. Recycling the old truck "costs" less (in energy) than producing virgin materials, so recycling is still good. I hear you on "planned obsolescence", but this truck is pushing 40 years old.
    – Nate
    Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 6:26
  • I think this may depend a lot on whether the user has a need for a large heavy truck. Upgrading a 6mpg truck to a modern 10-15mpg truck may not be worthwhile, depending on the annual mileage. But if they are using it as an everyday car, then it's definitely worth getting rid of it and changing to something that does 40mpg!
    – Flyto
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 9:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.