Government cash for cars that may be valued far less than the $3500-4500 vouchers available from some dealers is still available. Though it was in doubt mere days ago, on August 6, Congress approved a $2 billion infusion so that the popular Cash for Clunkers continues.
Have a car less than 25 years old? Want to get a new one with better gas mileage? The Cash for Clunkers program may be for you! I wouldn’t wait though. The first $1 billion from the government was wiped out in the first week of the program. At that rate, clunkers vouchers may not be available through November this year, as originally planned.
People were literally waiting for this part of the government bailout to become effective: 22,782 trade-ins for nearly $100 million were accomplished through clunkers vouchers in the first hours of the program.
Now that additional funds have been approved, its time to go car shopping again! Just make sure you know the rules, and visit a participating dealer. It may not be as easy as you might anticipate (which some complain about). Here’s a recap of the basics if you want government cash for cars:
- Car owners must trade in one that gets 18 mpg or less for a new one that gets at least 22 mpg
- SUV/pickup/minivan owners must trade in a vehicle that gets 18 mpg for a new one that gets at least 2 mpg more than their old one
- Your vehicle must be a 1984 model or newer, in drivable condition
- You must have continually owned and insured your vehicle in the 12 months prior to your trade-in
- The new vehicle must have a MSRP of $45,000 or less
- In order to qualify for a $4,500 voucher, instead of just $3,500, car owners must trade up to a new car with 10 mpg improvement; SUV/pickup/minivan owners must trade up to a new one with at least 5 mpg improvement
- Participating car dealers will be able to access the government vouchers electronically
- Dealers must ensure that older vehicles are crushed and disposed of to get the gas guzzlers off the roads
Also known as the car allowance rebate system, or the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009 (cleverly, “CARS”), includes a few “clunkers” in addition to the generous government cash for cars. If you don’t know the fine print, you could end up sorely disappointed.
First, you must select a vehicle that has been assembled in North America. Second, you must be entering into a transaction to buy – not lease – your new vehicle. If you go to a reputable dealership that you trust, most salespersons will be able to guide you through the various requirements to get you on the road to a new, greener ride.
The program is not without its critics, of course. Some wonder why we are encouraging (and paying for) the scrapping of driveable cars. Others believe that more energy is expended in crushing and transporting the scrap than would be used by the still working vehicles (note that if your car is not driveable, its not eligible for Cash for Clunkers). Still more remain upset about the expenditure of government bailout funds, given the state of the economy.
One thing is for certain, however. The Cash for Clunkers continues only because of its tremendous success in its first week. People are flocking to car dealerships and spending money for more fuel-efficient rides. When the final report card is issued, it would not be surprising to see that government cash for cars makes the grade.