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Cash For Clunkers Program Strikes Bitter Note With Some Consumers

Posted in auto industry, Beater Cars, Car Buying, Car Deals, Cars, Fuel-efficient, Gas Guzzlers, Legal, New Cars, Newsworthy, Old Cars, Politics by Suzanne Denbow | July 30th, 2009 | 12 Responses |

Autos Cash For Clunkers

Only three days old, the Cash for Clunkers program – officially known as the C.A.R.S. (Car Allowance Rebate System) Act – has already burned through 10% of the 1 billion allocated by the government for the purchase of new, fuel-efficient vehicles. In the first day alone, a record 4,026 sales were made using Cash for Clunkers provisions, a trend which is threatening to exhaust funding ahead of the program’s November 1st cut-off date. Fortunately, in order to somewhat stymie the flow of traffic, the EPA took it upon themselves to “revise” the MPG ratings for various cars, making them ineligible for participation by the faintest of margins. Sound ridiculous? Well yes, it is.

Lets say you have a, oh, I don’t know, 1996 Volvo 850 with 227,534 miles on the odometer, no working interior lights, a driver information system prone to phantom safety alerts, and an ignition timing problem that sounds like it would cost more to repair than the car is worth. To the unenlightened, such a car might seem worthy of the “clunker” moniker, but the federal government apparently begs to differ. According to the definitions set forth by the C.A.R.S. legislation, in order to be eligible for the incentive, the “clunker” in question must have a combined fuel economy rating no greater than 18 mpg (assuming that it’s a passenger car, mpg requirements vary for trucks and vans). So even if your ’96 850 hasn’t achieved its optimal fuel-consumption rating since the Clinton Administration, because it’s rated at a combined 19mpg, you’re SOL.

For those consumers who were not responsible in their used car selection, your bad decisions could be rewarded. As long as your rust bucket is less than 25 years old, has a combined fuel economy rating of 18 mpg or less, and has been continuously insured and registered to the same owner for at least 1 calendar year, it’s considered an official “clunker” and is thus eligible for up to $4,500 in incentives.

If you aren’t sure whether or not the EPA has given you the shaft, visit fueleconomy.gov and select your year, make, and model to calculate your “new” combined fuel efficiency.

To write an angry letter to your congressperson or state representative, which we are in no way encouraging that you do, locate their information in the official government directory here.

Image Cred: AP Photo

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12 Responses

  1. .357 says:

    I don’t find a 1996 Volvo 850R a clunker either. To me, it’s a kickass car.

  2. Suzanne Denbow says:

    @.357 – Well maybe, but if the cost of needed repairs is $4k, and it’s worthless as a trade-in because of the mileage, and the most you could reasonably ask from a private buyer is about $3k, I’d say it’s a clunker.

  3. .357 says:

    @Suzanne Yes, yes but if you had the chance, would you clunk it?

  4. Suzanne Denbow says:

    @.357 – Hell no.

  5. .357 says:

    @Suzanne- Fuck Yes.

  6. FuzzyPlushroom says:

    It’s not a clunker, Suzanne, it’s a hella sweet driver – and if the body was really shot, it would STILL be a bitchin’ powertrain donor. Wouldn’t be the first whiteblock 240, mind, but…

  7. FuzzyPlushroom says:

    Oh, and that Corolla’s clearly far too fuel-efficient for this programme.

  8. Mad_Science says:

    The “it costs more to fix than it’s worth” argument is spurious, because for what you could spend to get it working, you still couldn’t get a better car.

    Spend the cash, get it fixed, and put another 30-50k on it before moving on.

  9. Deartháir says:

    Gotta agree with the Almost Doctor Science. When you consider that a new car is going to set you back, what, $500 a month for the rest of your natural life — or five years, whichever comes first — wouldn’t it be easier to spend that $500 on your car and get the damn thing fixed? You know your car, you love your car, (just don’t LOVE your car) and there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from fixing it up yourself.

  10. Jaxon says:

    Read this article: The Real Reason for the “Cash for Clunkers” Suspension. The ex car salesman blog shares exactly why they stopped the program. Even reports that some sales managers are calling asking for the money back because they were denied the rebate when the final paperwork was submitted but their car was already ruined by dumping a solution in the engine. They now have no car. Scary. See: http://tinyurl.com/ml9sdo

  11. If your clunker doesn’t qualify for a voucher for whatever reason, you can get a tax deduction if you donate your car to charity. Your car donation will also help a worthy charity.

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