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Clunkers For Cash Active As Of July 1st
The Cash For Clunkers program has been active as of July 1st, and if you have an eligible car, you can now take advantage of the program. As a quick refresher, what vehicles are eligible for $3500-4500 voucher?
- Must be in drivable condition. (That means you can’t tow in that truck on blocks sitting in your front yard)
- Has to have been continuously insured to the same owner for at least one year immediately prior to trade-in. (That means you can’t just go out and buy a cheapo old truck to trade in)
- Manufactured in model year 1984 or later, so 25 year old or newer cars.
- Have a combined fuel economy of 18 mpg or less. Get anything more than that, and you’re out of luck!
You get either a $3,500 or a $4,500 voucher towards your new car, depending upon the increase in mpg in old car to new car. To find out the MPG of your old car vs. a new car, check out this website.
For a video presentation talking about the program, take a look at this video:
UPDATE: Some Cars Are No Longer Eligible
If you checked previously to find out if your car is eligible – you'll want to double check to make sure. The EPA has revised fuel-efficiency ratings in preparation for the CARS program, and upwards of 100 vehicles had their mileage figures changed. This means that some vehicles are no longer eligible (while others have now become eligible).
As it prepared for its “cash-for-clunkers” program, the government rejiggered gas mileage figures on about 100 older vehicles last week in a way that changed whether they would be eligible for up to $4,500 in sales inducements.
The Environmental Protection Agency says the changes resulted from a double-check of its fuel-efficiency ratings on more than 30,000 1984 and newer vehicles in advance of the official start of the clunkers program Monday.
About half of the 100 suddenly did not qualify because their combined mileage rating was revised upward; others unexpectedly got in.
The result of this change? Some people that had car deals ready to be completed are no longer eligible and are out of luck. They're obviously not happy about it. Be sure to make sure your car is STILL eligible. *(hat tip to commenter Chris)
Cars Consumer Bill Of Rights
The government website lists a bunch of consumer rights related to the CARS program. I thought I would reprint them here for your reference:
- Qualified consumers may participate in the CARS Program between July 1, 2009 and November 30, 2009 on authorized funds are no longer available.
- Qualified consumers will receive a credit of $3,500 or $4,500 for an eligible trade-in toward the purchase of lease of an approved vehicle under CARS Program.
- Qualified consumers will receive the $3,500 or $4,500 credit at the time they purchase their new vehicle.
- Dealers must provide consumers with any other advertised rebates or discounts in addition to the credit they receive through the CARS Program.
- Consumers should expect to conduct their deals at their dealership of choice, not on the Internet.
- Consumers should expect the dealers to provide their best estimate of the scrap value for their eligible trade-in vehicle. Dealers are allowed to deduct $50 from this value for their administrative costs.
- Consumers should expect that all information collected through the CARS Program will be kept confidential. Social Security numbers are not required for a CARS transaction.
Questions That Need Clarification
I've posted about the Cash For Clunkers program twice before.
In those posts the commenters brought up a lot of good questions about the program. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
- Can I trade in one vehicle type for another vehicle type? Yes. As long as you're trading it in for an eligible vehicle type, you could trade in a van and buy a car. Motorcycles are not eligible.
- Can the person who owns the “clunker” buy a car for someone else in the family? According to the CARS helpline (866-CAR-7891 (866-227-7891)), you can do this.
- I have a lease and it is due to expire soon. Does the program apply to leased cars that qualify as “clunkers”? No, leased cars do not qualify as you don't own the vehicle and can't turn it in to be destroyed.
- My car qualifies, but it has a salvage title. Can I still participate in the program? The language of the bill doesn't exclude salvage titled cars, so as long as the car meets the other qualifications, you should be fine.
- When does the program actually start? Vehicle purchases are eligible for the CARS program starting July 1st.
As always, please confirm any questions you might have about your car's eligibility by calling the CARS helpline at 866-CAR-7891 (866-227-7891)
Alternatives To Cash For Clunkers
There are alternatives to cash for clunkers for those that don't qualify for the program. Some are obvious – others not as much.
- Sell your car in a private party sale: While it may be more hassle, you may end up getting more for your vehicle than if you traded it in for the CARS program. Even if you don't, you'll still probably make something that you can use towards the purchase of a nice used car!
- Donate your clunker: While the government has made doing this not as attractive with recent changes to tax law, you can still claim a deduction on your taxes for the actual sale price of your clunker. See the donation tax laws here.
- Trade it in: You can still trade your vehicle in at the dealership if you don't want to bother with a private party sale. You may not get as much for it, but you'll still get something for it -and you can use it towards the purchase of a used car, instead of a new car!
- Keep it: Many people aren't even considering this option – but why not? If the car is still running well, you may as well just keep it, and drive it till it dies! You'll save a ton of money!
Have you taken advantage of the Cash For Clunkers program? Was the process handled well at the dealership? Did you decline to do the deal because you were better off selling or trading your car in? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
UPDATE: The program has been suspended after less than 1 week. Find the details here.