What happens to "Cash for Clunkers" cars?

August 3, 2009 4:10:45 PM PDT
Some parts from clunkers will be recycled but not the heart and soul of the clunker. The engine must be disabled in a very specific way.A Monday afternoon in August is normally a slow time for car dealers but "Cash for Clunkers" has revved up new car sales.

"People are seeing other people doing it even if they don't have a clunker they're coming in because other people are doing it," said Chris Kennedy of Kennedy Subaru.

So what happens to the clunkers, old low MPG cars and SUV's, once they become part of the government program? Dealers are obligated to make sure they can never go back on the road.

"As a dealer we have to disable the motor. We will drain the oil and then put a solution of sodium silicate in them," said Dom Conicelli of the Conicelli Auto Group.

The regulations are set by the government. Technician Armondo Ponce drains the oil and then pours into the crankcase a solution of sodium silicate, aka liquid glass, then he will start the engine but it won't run for long.

"Some engines are dying in 30 to 45 seconds and some engines are taking as much as 5 minutes. What happens is the engine ceases with this liquid glass that we pour into the engine," said Jack Monteleone of the Conicelli Group.

In the case of this Ford Explorer mechanical death came in 2 minutes 12 seconds. What was once a well oiled V6 is now a solid mass.

"We used to fixing cars, not breaking them and to break a car like this is almost hurtful."

Under the government plan the clunker can go to a salvage yard like Shorty's where some parts can be recycled.

"You have doors, hoods, lights some computer stuff radioes," said Shorty Schultz of Shorty's Auto Parts.

Tiny mercury switches like these are removed and sent to the EPA and what's left of the motor and body are then sent to a commercial shredder.

The folks at the Conicelli Group say they've taken in over 200 clunkers the Kennedy Dealership say they've taken more than 120.

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