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Clunkers prove boon to scrap, recycling yards

Posted August 7, 2009

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— Cash for Clunkers has brought new life to an auto graveyard in Clayton. Shelly Smith, manager of LKQ scrap yard said she is seeing more inventory, that means more cars for customers to choose from when they come looking for parts.

“We've gotten well over 200 vehicles already, (and are) expecting at least 100 more,” she said.

The cars coming into the yard are newer, too. Smith is seeing cars that are just ten years old. A newer car means better parts for LKQ to sell.

Smith’s scrap yard is one of the beneficiaries of the government’s popular trade-in program that gives consumers up to $4,500 in federal subsidies if they trade in their cars for new, more energy-efficient models.

Under the rules of the program, car dealers must disable the engines of the “clunkers” so they can not be driven again. All of the other parts are fair game. Everything from car mirrors, to car seats, even entire pickup truck beds can be re-sold and re-used.

As drivers seize on the opportunity, the clunkers have been trickling down to LKQ.

“We have a line out the door every morning when we open,” she said. “They're excited about seeing what's going out there.”

Business is also piling up at Raleigh Metal Recycling, where clunkers are being crushed like pancakes.

“We are expecting dozens of vehicles,” said owner Greg Brown.

He just bought new equipment that removes hazardous fluids like coolant and gasoline.
After they are drained, vehicles enter the crusher, where windows shatter, metal bends and tires pop. The result is a flattened car that is then stacked to be taken to a facility to be shredded.
There, Brown said, “The parts get broken down into the various components – whether its aluminum or steel – and then they go off to recycling centers and get turned into new products.”

Even at the end of the cycle, Brown said, “Cash for Clunkers” has been a boon. “A lot of people are excited about it because we're creating jobs right here in Raleigh.”

Brown, Smith and their employees can expect to be busy for another couple of weeks after the Senate approved a $2 billion infusion of cash for the rebates Thursday. Officials expect to fund about a half-million more car purchases through Labor Day.

The longer-term impact of the program is less clear.

"Once these clunker rebates expire, it is over," predicted economist Richard Yamarone of Argus Research. "Consumers are not going to keep buying cars. It is a temporary one-time gimmick, not a long-lasting tonic for the recovery."

In the program so far, GM's share of cars sold is largest, accounting for 18.7 percent of new sales. Toyota Motor Corp. followed with 17.9 percent, while Ford had 16 percent. Detroit automakers represented 45.3 percent of the total sales, while Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., all Japanese firms, totaled 36.5 percent.

Toyota also has the best-selling new model for traders of clunkers, the Corolla. The Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and Toyota Camry are also favorites. There is one SUV on the list, the Ford Escape, which also comes in a hybrid model that can get up to 32 mpg. Six of the top-10 selling vehicles are built by foreign manufacturers, but most are built in North America.

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  • shadow315 Aug 7, 2009

    Boooooooooooo!

  • BULLDOZER Aug 7, 2009

    In about 12 months we will be spending cash for folks who should have kept their clunkers but bought a new car they could not afford. Right back where we started, people getting stuff they can not afford because the government made it too easy to buy. Great!

  • whatelseisnew Aug 7, 2009

    What a horrible waste of good vehicles. What a horrible waste of more money we do not have.

  • roadbrnr Aug 7, 2009

    Like some of you,I wonder how many traded in a good reliable car,that was paid for,for a payment book with 4 or 5 years worth of payments. Not to mention full insurance coverage. Oh,and property tax. Think any mechanics will lose out,or auto parts stores,that supply parts for maintenance on those cars? Winters coming in the months ahead,and if you're like me,the bills keep coming especially end of the year. I could probably go out this evening and buy a shiney new car or truck,but think I'll just keep my 10 year old truck,and 15 year old car and pay off that pesky credit card,and pay down my equity line. Already refied the house,and saved 220.00 a month. A new pick up truck would be nice,but guess I'll pass just now.

  • rednek Aug 7, 2009

    One of the things that crosses my mind and causes me concern is when this happens, USA will not have the manufacturing capacity or capability to gear up for a major conflict, very UNLIKE in 1941 when most things US citizens purchased were either grown or manufactured in the USA!

  • donnied1952 Aug 7, 2009

    Hello Youngsters,
    Just thought I would add some history and facts to this "great idea". FOR 15 years (1926-1941)JAPAN bought every piece of scrap metal they could from the USA. December 7, 1941, they returned it with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, killing over 3,000 americans and starting WWII. Today it is CHINA that is buying every scrap of metal they can from the USA (whom we owe trillions of dollars to), so we can not so NO to them. I just wandering how long it will be before we get these clunkers metal back from china, using taxpayers money to boot...That's the Irony of it.:))))))))))))))))))))))HISTORY DOES REPEAT ITSELF......:))))))))))))))))))))

  • saturn5 Aug 7, 2009

    I just saw WRAL's other article on charities losing out on donated cars because of CfC. That's something that can really help low income people who need it. CfC is a nice bump, but you have to be able to afford a new car. It doesn't really help those who need it most.

  • ranquick Aug 7, 2009

    A normal person will not qual for this program, because of silly auto makers and dealers, raisieing the price of some vehicle by 600.00 nad the banks having such HIGH interest Rates, THERE IS NO MONEY SAVE IN THIS PROGRAM JUST SPENDING MY TAX DOLLARS ON SOMETHING ZFOR TEH RICH. and so of the car being traded soun dnot be considerered clunkers and you can bet all trade are not being scraped either. LOOK AROUND and watch the dealers.

  • superman Aug 7, 2009

    The people taking advantage of this program failed math in school. You save 30.00 a month in gas and then assume a car payment of 300.00. Dont they see what is wrong with this picture. They probably cant afford the new car or they wouldnt have had such an old car. Same thing with the housing market that caused all the financial problems. People will buy with no consideration of whether they can really afford it or not. Many of the cars they selling will be repossessed in a couple months. And then like the houses, the cars will be worth less than the loan. Then the banks will ask for another handout. And the poor folks who bought the new car will be walking.

  • babbleon Aug 7, 2009

    So far, the turn ins are 15mpg, the new purchases are 25mpg - 3mpg is the minimum possible, but the program is doing better than that.

    re: payments - if they can afford it, who are you to say they shouldn't? Hope they don't lose their jobs, though.

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