Cash For Clunkers Program To Continue Through Weekend

(LOS ANGELES, July 31, 2009) The federal government’s “cash for clunkers” program has been so successful that the $1 billion government rebate program is thought to be out of cash. However, today the Obama administration and Congress are working to obtain more funds and say that the rebate credits will be honored through Sunday night, according to a White House spokesperson.

Government officials today are trying to obtain a $2 billion extension of the law that during the month of July saw car dealers selling approximately 200,000 vehicles. (An early draft of the bill called for $4 billion in funding.)

Cash for clunkers offers motorists an economic incentive to purchase a more fuel efficient new vehicle by trading in their older and less fuel-efficient vehicle.

Congress passed cash for clunkers into law so older vehicles getting 18 miles per gallon or less in combined city and highway driving would be scrapped and exchanged for vehicles that get at least 22 mpg. (The mpg information on new vehicles is on its window sticker.) Window sticker data for pre-2008 vehicles isn’t valid since the methodology for estimating mpg was updated in 2008. To obtain the correct mpg go to http://www.fueleconomy.gov/.

The government credits drivers $3,500 to improve fuel efficiency by four mpg and $4,500 if they improve it by 10 mpg or more by buying a new vehicle. Dealers apply the credit at time of purchase. The Auto Club’s Car Buying Service dealer network is reporting significantly increased foot traffic on showroom floors due to the rebate program.

Criteria (like owners must have insured the trade-in for the full year preceding trade-in, etc.) must be met to receive the credit. For more information, go to http://www.cars.gov/, the official site that offers program details and is hosted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The government has also set up an information hotline at (866) 227-7891.

The Auto Club’s Car Buying Service Manager Dave Cavano recommends that buyers avoid typical car-buying pitfalls and:
  • Research costs, features and safety. Before stepping foot on a dealership lot, use the Internet and car-buying web sites like AAA.com to seek out the vehicle you want, the dealer’s cost, mileage ratings, safety features, warranty coverage from the manufacturer and special features, like hybrid technology or 4-wheel drive. Crash-test ratings are available from NHTSA and the Auto Club. Both provide crash-test ratings and information at no charge. Ask the local Auto Club office for the brochure “Buying a Safer Car--2009.”
  • Set a budget and stick to it. Decide how much you can spend on buying a car and determine if you’re eligible for discounts, or any rebates or incentives from the manufacturer or dealer, in addition to the incentives offered this year through government programs.
  • Get pre-approved financing. Get pre-approved before going to a dealer. "If the dealer can offer better financing, that's great. If not, you know you have a competitive loan," said Cavano.
  • Get referrals from trusted sources. Ask family members, friends, neighbors, or trust-worthy organizations such as the Auto Club, about reliable makes and reputable dealers. The Auto Club has developed a network of reputable car dealerships in their Car Buying Service network which offer discounted vehicle prices to its members.
  • Know. Don’t Guess. Newspaper automotive ads are a good place to check for vehicles. The Auto Club also provides new vehicle pricing information.
  • Test-drive before you buy. Make sure you test-drive the car you want to buy in the manner you plan to use it. Drive up hills, on highways, and in stop ‘n go traffic, to mimic your commute and other driving patterns.