News, Updates and Information

Recyclers: Extend Clunker Destruction Deadline

Consumers Look To Save Money By Buying Cheap, Used Auto Parts

More than 700,000 drivers took advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program. Now, drivers looking to save money on car repairs are cashing in too, with cheaper, used car parts.

Angelo Harris searched a rainy, south suburban auto recycling yard for a windshield.

“The part I need costs $100 at the dealers, $30 here,” Harris said.

At the same recycler, Tony Fondren searched for a fuel pump for his truck.

“To get this done in a car dealership would be about $500. I can come here and do it myself, and just pay $80,” Fondren said.

In this recession, car recyclers are a valuable resource for cash-strapped drivers. But consumers may lose the chance to save millions on used parts.

Under the Cash for Clunkers program, car recyclers must destroy the clunkers — crush them — within 180 days. That’s not enough time, recyclers say, to remove and save all the valuable parts.

“The Cash for Clunker cars, they’re nice because they have good parts that we can sell to people, at huge savings,” said James Watson, vice president of ABC Auto Parts in Riverdale.

ABC Auto Parts alone received 1,050 clunkers, more than three times the number of cars they usually buy in a month. That created a backlog of cars that could be crushed before the parts are stripped out.

Consumers spend $22 billion a year on used car parts, largely because new parts are so costly.

Experts estimate it would cost four times the price of any new car to rebuild that car from scratch with new auto parts. Buying used parts saves at least 50 percent, sometimes much more.

Recyclers want the Cash for Clunkers destruction deadline extended up to a year, to ensure consumers aren’t crushed along with the cars.

“These are high quality cars that have a lot of good used parts that people need to fix up their cars,” Watson said. “And they will be lost, they definitely will be lost.”

Of course, extending the deadline would help auto recyclers, too, giving them the opportunity to make more money by selling more parts. It’s something both the Obama administration and Congress are mulling over.