When Clunkers Become Junkers

Where do those 'clunkers' go once they've been accepted by the new car dealer for a $3500 or $4500 credit from the Cash for Clunkers program? Turns out the economic stimulus continues with the auto wreckers, junkyards and recyclers.
August 6, 2009, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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They don't look like the traditional clunkers that clutter junkyards. Many of the trade-in sedans and SUVs are in good condition, even immaculate - save for the fact that they've been rendered inoperable. Per requirements of the Car Allowance Rebate System, "dealers must destroy the engines of the clunkers -- by lethal injection with a sodium silicate solution (also called 'liquid glass') where the oil should go -- before before selling them for scrap or parts"

"It might seem like a waste. But to the scores of junkyards, auto auctioneers and scrap recyclers across the Southland, they're as good as gold.

As clunkers are starting to be shipped off dealer lots in greater quantities, competition for them is getting intense. Auto auctioneers see a bargain in the cars, which they can buy for $50 to $250 each.

As more people decided to forgo new-car purchases and hold on to their old cars, auto dismantlers also saw a decline in volume. They had fewer cars to put on their lots, which led to fewer parts to sell. Aadlen Bros. Auto Wrecking in Sun Valley, one of the largest auto dismantlers in Southern California laid off five percent of its workers this year."

From NPR: "Our automobile shredder can take an entire automobile. And in the course of about 20 seconds, shred it into fist-sized pieces of metal and the garbage, the wood, the plastic, foam, rubber, the paper, cardboard that may be in the car."

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, August 5, 2009 in Los Angeles Times
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