"Cash for clunkers" in legislative limbo

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It was just another day on the job for Rick Sage, owner of RCS Auto Recyclers. The business is one of a handful of East Texas, government approved salvage yards accepting clunkers. There's only one problem.

"We haven't received any yet," said Sage. "We had a few calls last week, on Thursday and Friday, and they really don't know what to do with them yet."

Sage says there's still too much confusion. In the mean time, the "clunkers" sit on car lots in East Texas, caught up in legislative limbo.

"You can't argue with 250,000 automobile sales in the month of July alone," said Hall Pontiac, Buick and GMC sales manager, Brad Hall.

He says the program worked, but there are flaws. Clunker keys are still on his desk instead of the money from the government's reimbursement.

"I'm not concerned that we're going to get it," said Hall. "I'm concerned about how long it's going to take to get it."

Dealers are now allowed to disable clunker engines after they're reimbursed, meaning dealers could legally sell the clunkers to make up the losses, should the government money not come in. But, once dealers have the money, the engines must be disabled within seven days, creating yet another issue.

"The engines ran well, the transmission shifted right, the AC blew cold, but because of the rules, we had to kill the car," said Hall. "Is this thing really totally worn out? Does it have some life left? Could maybe a lower income family be able to use this vehicle to better themselves...rather than just trashing it? We live in a disposable society and this is encouraging us to dispose of more stuff."

Hall says as long as "cash for clunkers" exists he'll participate. Unless, the program itself is sent to the scrap yard.

Dealers say just because you have a car that qualifies, doesn't necessarily mean it's a clunker. You could actually get as much or very close to the amount the government offers in the program through a regular trade. The Senate's decision is expected sometime this week.

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