Aug 11, 2009

Cash 4 Clunkers is Junk

Cash 4 Clunkers has some salvage yard owners angry and confused. They said it could cut back the supply of used cars and used car parts. Indeed, that is also what I thought, except I thought the market would be flooded. So, no, this is kind of the opposite of what I thought. I figured there'd be a glut of cars in the yard that would drop the price of spare parts. Or worse, they'd all get crushed and turned into little cubes. The government wants little cubes. No spare parts. Just junk.
"I thought I was going to buy every car from every dealer around here, and somebody’s not giving me the information that I need,” said Marty Cope, owner of Stillwater’s 108 Auto and Truck Salvage in Oklahoma.

Cope said he buys about 300 cars a month, supplying him with motors, transmissions and body parts to sell. He said all he understands about the Cash 4 Clunkers program is that the old cars being traded have to be destroyed, making good used parts even harder to find.

"I’ve got to crush those cars,” he said. Cope has more than 6,000 cars in the yard that need to be crushed.

Wow. And what are his electric bills going to be like, how much carbon will be expelled to crush those cars? I'm kind of thinking that maybe, maybe this isn't about recycling? Maybe it's about another way to get people back into debt? And what about all that energy and carbon to build the NEW cars? Any gains, environmentally - are offset.

According to, the government’s official Web site on the CARS Act, the program requires trade-in vehicles be crushed or shredded so they will not be resold for use in the U.S. or elsewhere. Those responsible for crushing or shredding vehicles can sell some parts, but those parts cannot include the engine or drive train. So, the little junk will be flooded, but the important parts with old cars that don't qualify will INCREASE in price in the aftermarket.

Tim Huskey, owner of Cars and Parts by Tim Inc. in Guthrie, is outraged over the federal program.
"This doesn’t make smart recycling sense, adding more cars to be crushed,” he said. "This is taking away from a man who needs to buy an engine for an older car that he can now get for around $700 and installed for another $500.”


To be eligible for the Cash for Clunkers program, a trade-in vehicle must have been manufactured less than 25 years before the date of the trade-in, must have a combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less, must be in drivable condition and have been continuously insured and registered to the same owner for a full year preceding the trade.

Funny that there aren't the typical loopholes you'd find in Congressional legislation. And if you can drive it in - you're ruining a commodity. Something of value. I think this whole thing will have steaming piles of unintended consequences.

Cutn'pasted from OK, additional reporting by JOHN A. WILLIAMS

1 comment:

Cthulhu said...

See, I can see the point of this tactic.

The notion is that all parts of evil car are evil, right?

So it stands to reason that evil car must not be resurrected.

Your argument is a bit like saying "well, now that Cobra's Weather Dominator is disassembled into three parts, I should be able to pick up those parts for a song." The problem is that we all know that you will use it to make another weather dominator. Weather dominators are bad.

Evil cars are bad. They must be destroyed, just like the pernicious EV1 ( ) that was set to enslave us all before they were rounded up and destroyed.

Though I must say this (because it seems germane to me): I remember there was some snooty jerk who claimed that it was better to buy an old, efficient car than to buy a nice, shiny new one that got great gas mileage. His argument--that there are many great cars out there that are extant and yield great efficiency without additional cost/manufacturing--was flawed. Hippie cost effective penny pinchers buy efficient cars, and they keep them for DECADES. The Honda Civic that gets good mileage is passed down father to son, while the rice rocket 16 MPG version gluts the classifieds.

I guess my point is that if you agree with the notion of cash for clunkers being sound--that low-efficiency cars off the roads is good--most of the program makes sense.

Of course, the vehicle I drive the most gets only ten nautical miles per gallon.