Cash For Clunkers ends, dealers await repayment from gov't - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Cash For Clunkers ends, dealers await repayment from gov't

MADISON (WKOW) --  "Cash For Clunkers" is history.

The stimulus program accelerated car sales, giving some consumers $4,500 off the price of a new car.

"It's been tremendous," said John Garcia sales manager at Russ Darrow Kia. "We had people coming in here all sorts of hours, first thing in the morning, right from the minute it started, up until late last night. We were here until 11p.m. at night."

On Saturday alone, Russ Darrow Kia sold 17 vehicles, when they would normally sell about 8. Company-wide, salespeople gave away more than $2.8 million in clunker rebates.

"Most of them were planning on buying a vehicle, not a brand new one, but close to new," Garcia said. "The clunker program just put them over the fence to buy a brand new one."

Dealers say inventory levels are lower now, thanks to clunkers. Meantime, dealerships are getting ready to purge their old cars.

Mechanics start the process by literally killing the car.

"We drain the engine oil out of it, fill it with sodium silicate, which is like a liquid glass," said technician Adam Pybas. "What happens is all the oil passages, and bearings inside the engine fill up with it."

Once the car is started, the liquid heats up, gets hard, and stops the engine cold.

For mechanics like Pybas, it almost seems sacrilegious.

"It kind of goes against anything a mechanic is taught," he said. "It's all about preserving the life of the car, and then when you start to kill one it's kind of against anything you've learned."

Disabling the cars is actually a crucial step to protect consumers. With the car essentially dead, there's little chance these vehicles will end up on the black market.

The transportation department says drivers who traded in their clunker for a new car, are on average, getting 61 percent better fuel efficiency.

E-mail Jeff Angileri --


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