What happens to the 'clunkers' in gov't program?

By Taylor Kearns - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Top senators say they'll have cash to give you for your clunker before leaving for vacation.

Sen. Jim DeMint says he will not try to block the plan and on The Today Show Tuesday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he thinks it's a shoe-in to pass.

One question on everyone's mind is what happens to the cars that get clunked. Take for example the story of a Jeep Grand Cherokee we found for this story.

He was born in 1996 and has reliably covered more than 150,000 miles, but having been found guilty of getting lousy gas mileage he's getting a lethal dose of liquid death.

Actually, it's sodium silicade.

"Within 3 to 7 minutes it'll make a liquid glass coating inside the engine and the engine will actually lock up and shut down," said Regina Salinas.

The Jeep checked out just before 2pm on Tuesday. It wasn't the first to go at the hands of Midlands Honda technician Robin Alford.

"You spend all your life working on cars and fixing cars, but then you got to tear one up, it's not real good," said Alford.

So it's not quite like putting a bullet in Old Yeller, but it's just part of a federally-mandated process to make sure no one tries to resell the clunkers. More of which seem to be showing up at dealerships like Midlands Honda.

"When it kicked back in Saturday and Sunday we had a phenomenal day we had quite a few folks coming through, a really good response, folks were jumping all over it," said Salinas.

And as they leave the lot in new, more fuel efficient wheels, their old, disabled cars end up at recyclers like North Columbia Auto Salvage.

Ron Ellison says once he gets a clunker, he has 6 months to sell sheet metal tires and other general body parts before he is required to crush it.

But the engine can't be resold and that's about 30% of a recycled car's value.

Still, Ellison is a cash for clunkers believer.

"It helps a lot of people get newer cars and helps us get some potential sales from the parts we're receiving," said Ellison.

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