News in 2010

Time’s up for “Clunkers”

on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 by Sarah Kathryn McRae

Last summer, Americans traded in over 675,000 vehicles as part of the CARS Program, or Cash for Clunkers, as it became popularly known. The federal stimulus program lured buyers into dealerships nationwide, but it was after the much-publicized program officially ended that the real work began for the automotive recycling industry.

For the past 9 months automotive recyclers have been buying Cash for Clunkers vehicles from dealerships and auto auctions to dismantle for parts. The nationwide program allowed any parts of the vehicle, other than the engine block and drive train (unless the drive train was sold in separate parts) to be sold, and many salvage businesses took advantage of the parts windfall.

There were quite a few safeguards and requirements written into the CARS program in efforts to prevent traded-in vehicles from returning to the road. One such provision was a hotly-debated 180-day timeframe for disposal facilities to dismantle the clunkers for parts before crushing the engine block and the remaining parts of the vehicle.

A successful campaign by industry groups persuaded NHTSA to extend the vehicle processing period by three months to 270 days, but even with the extension, the time to crush the clunkers has finally arrived. Facilities that received some of the first clunkers in late July 2009 must begin crushing those vehicles during the month of April. Under the program provisions, the disposal facilities are required to safely remove all hazardous materials from the vehicle and then crush the vehicles on site, using their own crusher or the services of a mobile crusher.

Dealing with the clunkers has been an arduous process for many recyclers as they navigated the federal requirements involving mercury switch recycling, disposal facility certification forms, and reports to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. From the inception of the CARS program, Auto Data Direct (ADD) has been on hand to help customers understand the regulations and comply with the NMVTIS reporting requirements. The program’s runaway success created busy fall and winter months for recyclers, and ADD worked to provide available, responsive customer service through it all. For ADD the end of the Cash for Clunkers disposal process will be no different.

ADD has designed its NMVTIS reporting tools to allow users to update their original clunker reports easily once a vehicle has been crushed, and users can even create their own custom compliance statements, organizing the clunker reports to separate them from the regular salvage vehicle records. ADD wants to make sure the clunkers don’t slip through the cracks, and with NHTSA promising that Cash for Clunkers audits will continue for years, the ability to provide proof of compliance is key.

More information is available at, including Cash for Clunkers FAQs, industry-specific guidelines and details on NMVTIS reporting through Auto Data Direct.