Some cashed-in 'clunkers' may see second lives

The federal government has put strict rules in place to ensure vehicles turned in under its popular "cash for clunkers" program aren't simply resold to new owners. After all, much of the program's intent is to get older gas-guzzlers off the nation's roads by offering current owners incentives of up to $4,500 to buy more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.

But there are skeptics who think it is likely that some of those cars will make it back into circulation despite stringent rules that levy fines of up to $15,000 against dealers. "In some instances, there's not all that much they can do," said Jack R. Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, a publisher of new- and used-car information.

Some turned-in vehicles may be "cloned," Nerad said, a process in which vehicle identification numbers are removed from legal cars and put on clunkers, giving them a new identity.