Cash For Clunkers

Cash For Clunkers

To say times are tight would be an endeavor in the obvious. You’ve seen, first hand, the effects of our sluggish economy and are most likely feeling the impact yourself. More and more Americans are cutting expenses wherever they can, and the expense on the minds of most is gasoline. Even as we remain on a fixed budget, gas prices continue to fluctuate anywhere between high to really high.

Fortunately, the government has created a program, which could benefit some of us folks who feel as though our paycheck is getting poured directly into our gas tank: It’s called the Cash Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program or, “Cash for Clunkers,” as it is more affectionately known. No, it’s not a $300 billion dollar stimulus to overhaul your household finances (although, that would be nice), but the program may help out quite a few people wanting to ditch their gas guzzling junker for a more fuel efficient new vehicle.

The goal of CARS is exactly what you think: an attempt to reduce gas consumption, while simultaneously boosting sales for our struggling auto manufacturers. The program works by giving qualifying consumers a $3500 or $4500 voucher toward the purchase of a more fuel efficient vehicle. To keep in line with its goal, though, the program has some fairly strict conditions to be met by both your new purchase and old trade-in. Here is a quick rundown of both categories to help you determine if can take advantage of this offer:

The Clunker

  1. Must be in working condition and less than 25 years old.
  2. Needs to have been registered and insured under the same owner for at least one year prior to the trade in date.
  3. Combined fuel efficiency for city/highway driving must be less than 18 miles per gallon (according to when the vehicle was brand new).
You can find the information about your specific vehicle at

The Upgrade

  1. The sticker price can not exceed $45,000.
  2. The vehicle must be previously unowned, a.k.a. new.
  3. Must meet the minimum combined fuel economy level:
  • 22 mpg for passenger autos
  • 18 mpg for class 1 trucks (under 6000 pounds)
  • 15 mpg for class 2 trucks (6001-10,000 pounds)

To Determine if a vehicle you have your eye on will qualify, you may find its fuel economy information at

I know this program will not be for everyone. New cars can be expensive, and many of us are not in the financial position to be taking on a large monthly car payment. To our favor, though, the voucher program also applies to leased vehicles, provided the lease period is a minimum of five years. This allows for those on a tighter budget to cash in on some much needed financial assistance from Uncle Sam.
Those of you still saying you can’t afford to cash in your clunker, you should look at big picture: it will mean less money you have to spend on gas, $4500 voucher which amounts to a smaller monthly payment, and, furthermore your old bag o’ bolts may not have many years left in it anyway. There are some who can’t afford not to buy a new car right now.

For more information about this program visit the CARS website at

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