Cash for Clunkers Consumers "Lost" Scrap Value

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Here’s an excerpt from the CARS.GOV website, spotted by one our eagle-eyed readers:

Do I get any money for my trade in vehicle in addition to the CARS credit?

YES. The law requires your trade-in vehicle be destroyed. The dealer must disclose to you the scrap value of your vehicle. The dealer is entitled to keep up to $50 of the scrap value for administrative fees. You are entitled to negotiate about who keeps the remaining scrap value. For example, you may use that money toward the price of your new car separate from the CARS credit.

How many customers received this federally-mandate disclosure from their dealer? Not many, I’d wager. TTAC writer and used car guru Steve Lang reckons the average clunker was worth between $300 and $350 in scrap. So let’s call it $250 per car. Multiply that by the estimated 700,000 crushed clunkers and you’re looking at some $175,000,000 that may have been left on the table. Oops! Our tipster reckons that money should have gone back to taxpayers, anyway. I reckon he’s right.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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4 of 22 comments
  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Sep 17, 2009

    All those 1970s platform disco shoes which we all paid top dollar for are still worth $50 ea (gotta be - I say so). That's millions $$$$ of PROPERTY just absolutely wasted, especially if unloved in the cupboard. Seriously, is no-one familiar with the accounting concepts of "write-off" or "depreciation" these days??????? @ dingram01 Precisely.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Sep 17, 2009

    Auction and COllector Lobbyists convinced the idiots in Congress to exclude pre-1984 vehicles from the CFC program, I believe.

  • Rusnak_322 Rusnak_322 on Sep 17, 2009

    "Also, what if as an owner you put some new tires or so on, and then the cash for clunkers came along and you decided to trash it? The dealer is going to reuse them (for sure) so why shouldn’t the customer be entitled to a couple hundred bucks extra off their purchase?" If you left new tires on you C4C, knowing that it is going to the junkyard, then you are a moron. A "friend" of mine took his car in for C4C and it didn't have a radio, speakers or the air bags.

  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Sep 17, 2009

    $80, after towing, was the top scrap price (from four calls) a co-worker in Chicago was offered for his 1994 BMW 525i. (No it doesn't go or is it insured, so he couldn't C4C it).