The Cash for Clunkers program apparently has been so successful that it is running out of money. The Senate is being asked to come up with more money for the plan which basically gives car buyers $3500 or $4500 when they purchase a new, more fuel efficient car. Sounds easy? Not so fast. There are rules. Many dealerships have rules posted. I opted for USA Today rules:
You can read a PDF of the whole thing here, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration basically says:
The eligible clunker has to be driveable and can’t be more than 25 years old. In the case of “very large” pickups and vans (8,500 to 10,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight), they must have been made since 2001.
The program runs through Nov. 1.
Dealers have to register and approval may take two to four days, which could hold up the start of the program for many.
You must have owned your clunker for at least a year, and be able to prove it. You must be able to show it was insured for the previous year, although it looks like there may be a little wiggle room since some states don’t require all drivers to carry insurance.
Clunkers must get less than 18 miles a gallon combined fuel economy, as rated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The new car you’re buying must get at least 22 mpg, a new SUV or small truck must be rated at least 18 mpg and there’s no minimum when you’re buying an extra-large work truck or van.
If a clunker car is traded in for a new car that achieves 4 to 9 miles per gallon better fuel economy, the credit is $3,500. If it gets 10 mpg more, the credit is $4,500. If you’re trading in an SUV or pickup and want to buy another similar vehicle, you get $3,500 if it there’s only a 1 mpg improvement. If there’s a 2 or more mpg improvement, you get $4,500.
The government wants to go to elaborate lengths to make sure the clunker is destroyed, not resold. Parts can be stripped, but the engine block must be rendered inoperable. (And the rules lay out various ghastly means to accomplish that. Don’t look. It will only break your heart.)
Is this a great deal or what? Depends on who you ask. Some people are singing its praises that the program is good for the environment, stimulates jobs in the auto industry and in the various stages of the auto graveyard business. Others feel that perfectly good cars are going to waste and that this is another huge waste of taxpayer money. So, where do our contributors weigh in on this one? Make haste and go get a new car or waste…of tax payer money?
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Thursday, August 6, 2009 — 8:20 PM ET
Senate Passes Extension of ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Program
The Senate passed a $2 billion extension of the car rebate
program after the House voted for it on Friday, before its