Here is the full list of all 677,081 cars destroyed for cash for Clunkers

Thirteen years ago, Cash For Clunkers offered a unique premise. Help save a faltering domestic auto industry, inject much-needed capital into an economy devastated by a massive recession, and replace the aging turf on America’s roads with more fuel-efficient cars. The federal recall plan that destroyed nearly 700,000 purported gas-guzzling vehicles had basic criteria: no car could be 25 years old or older, the cars must manage 18 mpg combined or worse, be driven, and the rebate and scrap value must to apply to a car that would be registered and insured for a continuous year after purchase.

What was taken off the roads has hopefully been recycled many times over, but the truth is not lost as we have unearthed a little-known, long-lost full report on every car destroyed with CFCs. With talk of a new buyback program to push people from internal combustion to electric vehicles reverberating in Washington, it’s the perfect time to revisit what happened the last time we earned our money.

We found the reference in a Wayback Machine file of CARS.gov, the website of the Car Benefit Rebate System, also known as Cash For Clunkers. The site has now been offline for more than five years, but the complete record of every one of the nearly 700,000 vehicles destroyed survives. Although there was plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the CFC claiming some exotics, this coverage was not based on an audited list to eliminate mis-entries, duplicates and other errors.

Now we’ve finalized the data that gives us a picture of what was destroyed under CFC—and yes, that includes a number of cars that will really make you cringe. We’ve got a few stories that will go over everything with a fine-toothed comb, including one about the classics, rare cars and performance cars that met their fate in those heady summer days of 2009.

But first, here’s the full list of scrapped cars and trucks. We’ve embedded the PDF below, sorted alphabetically by manufacturer. We’ve also created a public Google Sheet linked here in case there’s a problem with the PDF. Take everything:

I wanted to start by looking at what CFC destroyed most. But due to the formatting of the report, this is not easy at all. Vehicles are divided by year, make, model and powertrain configuration, splitting individual models into multiple entries. Even so, I was able to skim the cream off the top by only working on the top 150. This still gave me a pretty good idea of ​​the cars that CFC claimed the most. And here it is:

  1. 1995-2003 Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer: 46,676
  2. 1996-2000 Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth Minivan: 23,998
  3. 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee: 20,844
  4. 1992-1997 Ford F-150: 20,222
  5. 1984-2001 Jeep Cherokee: 18,329
  6. 1988-2002 GM C/K pickups: 17,202
  7. 1995-2005 Chevrolet Blazer: 15,668
  8. 1999-2003 Ford Windstar: 12,157
  9. 1991-1994 Ford Explorer: 11,612
  10. 1994-2001 Dodge Ram 1500: 8,103
2002 Ford Explorer, the most smashed vehicle model under Cash For Clunkers, Passage

While the list is a neat cross-section of the most popular cars in the US at the time, popularity alone isn’t the reason these vehicles were the most crashed. They were destroyed because CFC was intended (at least ostensibly) to enhance the poor fuel efficiency of US drivers’ cars. No vehicle above topped 18 mpg with an automatic transmission, and overall averaged just 16 mpg.

This happens to be pretty much the average for all The CFC returns, which the Department of Transportation has estimated to be 15.8 mpg. Because CFC worked on a rebate system where dealers received cash for accepting rebate coupons, the federal government could track the gas mileage improvement margin for each sale. In doing so, he found that the average mpg of replacement vehicles under the CFC program was 24.9 mpg — a 58 percent improvement.

1999 Chrysler Town & Country, the second most crashed model under Cash For Clunkers, Chrysler

But while 700,000 vehicles getting more than 9 mpg sounds like a lot, the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted no improvement in the fuel economy of the nation’s vehicles as a result of CFC. If nothing else, he recorded a boundary fall from 2009 to 2010. The effect of CFCs on the fuel consumption of the US fleet was further reduced by the following years of record car sales: since 2010, more than 185 million new cars have been sold in the US according to Axelwise.

The program’s effect on natural gas consumption was ultimately negligible, and that’s without acknowledging CFC’s other disadvantages. It cost the US government $3 billion, some of which indirectly supplemented the bailouts issued to American automakers, although much of it went overseas. Anecdotally, CFC was also blamed for driving up used car prices. But this can be explained as a result of greater demand for cheap used cars during the recession.

1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee Orvis Edition, Jeep

“Recession” is again on the tongues of economists, so CFC revivals are proposed, sometimes aimed at EV adoption – the latter has been proposed in DC according to speculative reports. If the US does indeed enter another recession and a CFC-style program returns, then its proponents should consider what happened the first time we tried to cash out the clunkers, not to mention the differences in market conditions between 2009 and 2022. Then demand was the problem; Today it’s supply, and an EV CFC could quickly turn into a windfall for car dealers and a few others.

We can speculate on whether CFC achieved what it set out to do, and we will. But what’s gone isn’t up for debate, and here’s the final list.

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