Cars Simplified: Everything Automotive Explained


Lead is a very soft metal which, in gasoline and diesel powered vehicles, may be found in the battery, assuming it is equipped with a lead-acid battery. In this type of battery, the lead makes up the plates which are suspended in battery acid (sulfuric acid). Lead is also used in wheel balancing weights and wire connectors.

In auto racing, lead is often used for weights, both for weighing down a car to meet event regulations and to adjust the weight distribution to change the handling characteristics.

Lead Recycling

Due to its low melting point, lead is very easy to extract from other components and recycle. In the United States, over 98 percent of lead is recycled as opposed to being thrown away. When you buy a new battery and are charged a "core charge", that is there to encourage the recycling of old batteries.

Automotive Chemistry Generic ImageThis involves chemical names, terms, and/or reactions, which may be complicated without a basic understanding of chemistry.

Leaded Gasoline


Lead was once put into gasoline to improve the performance its overall performance. Tetraethyllead (the molecular structure seen at the right) was used in early vehicles to help reduce engine knocking, artificially improve octane ratings, and help reduce wear on valve seats within the engine.

Due to concerns over air pollution and health risks, the addition of lead to fuel was gradually phased out starting in the late 1970′s and banned altogether in all United States on-road vehicles in 1995.

Tetraethyllead can be written as C8H20Pb.