The government doesn’t want to take the chance that they’ll be accused of doing what they are doing, which is giving a $4,500 gift to consumers and car companies in the form of the Cash For Clunkers bailout.
So the government has to keep pretending that Cash For Clunkers is about the environment. Which is why the government is insisting that all those perfectly good “clunkers” that get only slightly worse gas mileage than the new cars people are buying be “killed.”
The clunkers can’t just be crushed, because then a frugal former owner might fish out some parts and use them again. They have to be completely wasted.
To this end the government has come up with an innovative way to make sure that every last scrap of the clunker is rendered worthless: pour two quarts of sodium silicate (liquid plastic) into the engine and run it for a while.
All this car-killing, in turn, is driving the price of old engines and parts through the roof (for people who didn’t accept the bribe and buy a new car). It’s also driving the market for the clunker-killing agent, sodium silicate, through the roof.
Kevin Helliker, WSJ: [S]odium silicate is the designated agent of death for cars surrendered under the federal cash-for-clunkers program. To receive government reimbursement, auto dealers who offer rebates on new cars in exchange for so-called clunkers must agree to “kill” the old models, using a method the government outlines in great detail in its 136-page manual for dealers: Drain the engine of oil and replace it with two quarts of a sodium-silicate solution.
“The heat of the operating engine then dehydrates the solution leaving solid sodium silicate distributed throughout the engine’s oiled surfaces and moving parts,” says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication. “These solids quickly abrade the bearings causing the engine to seize while damaging the moving parts of the engine and coating all of the oil passages.”
Wait until you hear what Bob Lutz has to say about this (yes, that Bob Lutz, the former GM car design god):
“I, like, have so not even ever heard of this before.”
Neither has anyone else. Which is why even the folks who stock sodium silicate had to call around and confirm that the sudden crush of buyers were serious–that the stuff could actually be used to destroy cars.
NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.