If you thought trading in your old gas-guzzling car or truck for a shiny new hybrid or subcompact would help the planet by taking it off the road for good, you'd better think again. Shipping those old road warriors south to Mexico is now a big business. According to the Los Angeles Times, the armada of Detroit iron flooding across the border is large enough to sustain 25,000 families via the used car trade in Juarez City alone.

Because of high tariffs on used American cars, it used to be that that this was a rare practice. However, since trade barriers began dropping under NAFTA in the middle of 2005, the former black market trickle has been transforming into a legal-market tsunami. The influx of 3,000,000 cheap, used American cars in the past several years may be at least partially responsible for large dropoffs in Mexican new car sales, especially in the less costly subcompact class.

What can be done? The article notes that as the tariffs for more recent model years come down, those newer, more efficient vehicles will help displace some of the smoke-spewing heaps now steaming their way across the border. Somehow, that's not very comforting. Maybe we should be recycling some of these clunkers before they can continue to do their damage elsewhere.

[Source: Los Angeles Times]

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