Vehicle history provider Carfax has partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to introduce a new Clunker Check service.
The simple Carfax query page allows you, merely by entering the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the suspect vehicle to check whether it was written off for salvage as part of the federal government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), better known as the Cash for Clunkers program, earlier this year.
The Clunker Check service is free, and independent of the company's Vehicle History Reports. And it includes the VINs of all vehicles traded-in as part of the program.
In less than 30 days this past summer, nearly 700,000 vehicles were accepted as trade-ins under the Cash for Clunkers program; as part of the agreement, which awarded new-car buyers a rebate of $3,500 or $4,500 to buy a new-car with better fuel economy (Toyota Prius sales soared), dealerships were required to see that the engines were disabled and that the bodies were sent out for dismantling. The dealer was also required to give you an estimate of the scrap value of your trade-in, applied in addition to the rebate.
Last month TheCarConnection.com reported that vehicles accepted as part of the clunkers program were stacking up at recycling yards, creating a backlog, while many other vehicles were being sent straight to the crusher rather than having used parts reclaimed. Recyclers have until early next year to crush all the vehicles. Furthermore, the CARS program has helped push used-car prices to all-time highs this fall as there's a relative shortage of older inexpensive vehicles. So we wouldn't rule out the possibility that a few clunkers have been snuck out.