This paper considers the importance of automobiles as a continuing source of persistent pollutants in the environment, using the UK as a case study. The mass of lead, copper, zinc and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) being released by automobiles in the UK is estimated. It is shown that as other sources are reducing, automobiles are now major sources of copper, zinc and PAHs to the environment, and are trending upwards. The paper also discusses the measures available to reduce and control their impact on the environment. A number of options are available to policy makers that have the potential to reduce the environmental impact of motor vehicles, and technologies exist which can greatly reduce pollutant release from vehicles, but these are not yet widely used. Action focusing solely on one pollutant has the potential to deliver a reduction of one source, but with the possible effect of enhancing another. A holistic consideration of all impacts is desirable.