(ELV) End of Life Vehicles – A guide

5 Oct 2017

What happens to your car when it has reached the end of it’s useful life?

This guide covers most questions that you may have regarding End of Life Vehicles (ELV’s).

What are ELV’s?

ELV stands for End of Life Vehicle.  Vehicles which have come to the end of their useful life and are no longer worth repairing.

There are two forms of ELV. Natural ELV’s and Premature ELV’s.

  • Natural ELV’s mainly refers to older vehicles which are worn out and no longer worth repair.
  • Premature ELV’s refers to vehicles which are being disposed of due to damage, accident, fire or theft.

What is the European ELV Directive?

Every year in Europe, End of Life Vehicles produce between 8-9 million tonnes of waste. The End of Life Vehicles Directive October 2000 was put in place by the European Union to address the increasing amount of waste produced during the disposal of ELV’s and to improve the environmental practices used by car dismantlers, car breakers and scrap yards concerning ELV’s. The Directive was adopted as a UK law on the 21st April 2002.

The main objective of the directive is to minimalise waste produced by the disposal of ELV’s by recovering and reuse of vehicle components and recycling (de-pollution) which in itself should reduce the environmental impact.

Targets aimed for by the End of Life Vehicle’s Directive when it was put in place were 85% of ELV’s recovered via scrap metal recycling by Jan 2006 and 95% by Jan 2015.


De-pollution is the process used to achieve the recycling targets set by the ELV Directive.  The process involves recovery of all working and re-useable components and the removal and safe disposal of those parts which are potentially harmful to the environment.

What is the process of De-pollution and Disposal of ELV’s?

The first step is the removal and recycling of all the vehicles operating fluids. Eg. Oil, brake fluid, petrol.

Next, all reuseable parts are recovered to be sold as salvage parts.  The remaining recoverable parts such as glass, tyres and plastics are recycled through their own separate processes.

end of life vehicle

The remaining bodywork is shredded and separated into sub categories. The ferrous and non-ferrous metals are separated from the shredded material. After reprocessing and treatment they are reused..Non metallic remains are separated ready to be recycled.

End Of Life Vehicle (ELV) Process Video

In the video below you will see a salvage vehicle being loaded into an ELV bay for the de-pollution process.  Below the video, you will find a summary of each step.


  • First, the professional technicians at AFF Vehicle Services remove the wheels to gain better access.
  • The first yellow container is wheeled in to remove the breakfluid from the vehicle using a vacuum.
  • Whilst the breakfluid is being removed, the technicians continue to recover parts and separate them either for re-use as salvage parts for recycling.
  • A gas canister is wheeled in to remove the air conditioning gas.
  • The second yellow container is wheeled in and is connected up using a vacuum again to remove the fuel from the tank before being wheeled around to the front of the car to remove the fuel left in the engine.  You will notice that this is pressure pumped by hand.
  • A black container is positioned under the vehicle to drain the engine oil.
  • The third and final yellow container is wheeled over to drain the vehicles water system, again using pressure similar to a vacuum.
  • Now that all of the vehicle’s operating fluids have been removed, the technicians proceed to remove the engine.
  • The vehicles interior is then dismantled.
  • All remaining salvageable parts are then removed for processing, leaving a bare chassis.

Where should an ELV be recycled?

In order to decommission your end of life vehicle you will need a certificate of destruction. The certificate of destruction confirms that your vehicle was properly disposed of.

Your End of life vehcle should be recycled by an authorised and certified ATF (Automotive Treatment Facility) or a manufacturer approved tack back station who will issue a Certificate of Destruction (COD).  A copy of the COD will be provided to the registered keeper of the vehicle and the vehicle licensing agency will be automatically notified by electronic means.