What To Do With Old Brake Parts And Fluid

When you replace your brakes, you’re left with some old brake parts and brake fluid. It can be tricky to dispose of these parts. If you’re wondering what to do with your old brake parts and fluid, you came to the right place.

How To Dispose Of Used Brake Fluid The Correct Way

Brake fluids

You should perform a brake fluid flush every 30,000 miles or 2 years, whichever comes first. During this process, you’re flushing out old brake fluid. When you have a container full of brake fluid, you can’t just pour it out somewhere. You also can’t seal the container and then send it to the landfill.

Toxic fluids need special disposal methods. Used brake fluid is toxic. It will contaminate the soil and local water supply if you dump it somewhere or send it to the landfill.

Brake fluid is alcohol-based, so it’s very flammable. Used brake fluid is contaminated with the metals it picked up while sitting in the vehicle. So if you dump used brake fluid down a drain, toilet, or wherever else, the metals will contaminate the local water supply. It will make the water poisonous when ingested by humans or animals. Even sealing a container full of used brake fluid and then sending it to the landfill is bad. It’s harmful to the environment. The container will break open or be punctured. The used brake fluid will seep into the soil and contaminate it and the local water supply.

Here are three ways to dispose of used brake fluid safely:

1. Take The Brake Fluid To An Auto Parts Store Or A Shop That Accepts Hazardous Waste

Image Credit: CambridgeMA

Many local auto parts stores like Auto Zone will accept hazardous waste. Used brake fluid counts as hazardous waste. They’ll either recycle it or dispose of it properly. Many of them will even accept it for free. Be sure to bring the used brake fluid in a sealed container, such as an old brake fluid bottle. Not all auto parts stores accept brake fluid, so call around first.

Do you have trouble finding a location where you can safely dispose of brake fluid? Call your local waste management company for assistance. Most likely they’ll accept your used brake fluid. Also, many larger counties have hazardous material collection sites. 

2. Bring The Brake Fluid To A Waste Recycling Center

If you’d rather recycle your brake fluid, find a waste recycling center. They’ll safely repurpose the fluid into something else. You may need to pay a fee. If you don’t want to pay a fee, you can wait until the waste recycling center offers a free collection day.

3. Use Kitty Litter To Absorb The Old Brake Fluid

This is a good solution only if you have a small amount of brake fluid. Here’s how you do this:

  1. Pour the brake fluid into a pan of clean kitty litter.
  2. Keep the pan away from pets or children. Also, keep it away from any source of heat or flame.
  3. Leave the pan uncovered for a few days. The brake fluid will evaporate.
  4. Shake the tray to see if there’s any liquid left. If there’s still some liquid left, let it sit for another few days. If the tray is completely dry, throw out the kitty litter with the rest of your trash.

Do You Have Unused Brake Fluid That’s Expired?

If you have an old bottle of brake fluid sitting in your garage, you still shouldn’t pour it out or send it to the landfill. Expired brake fluid is highly flammable, and it will contaminate the soil and local water supply.

Instead, treat it like used brake fluid, and use one of the methods above to dispose of it.

Is It Safe To Throw Away Old Brake Parts?

Old rotors

Not many people know this, but brake pads can be considered hazardous waste. Some brake pads still have asbestos in the friction material. If you know that your brake pads contain asbestos (or if you even suspect it), dispose it as hazardous waste. Some local regulations require you to dispose it in a toxic waste dump.

Call your local waste management company to see what their policy is for asbestos waste.

As for what to do with old brake rotors, you can toss them out or recycle them. You can also throw away old calipers, but be sure to drain the brake fluid out of them first.

You Can Repurpose Your Rotors

Image Credit: RusstyDesigns

Did you know that you can even repurpose brake rotors? Rotors are solid metal discs, so there are many different things you can do with them. For example:

You can turn a rotor into a neat-looking clock, like this one. Or you can turn a rotor into book ends, like these. If you’re creative, you’re bound to turn your old rotors into something cool.