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Aug 7, 2009

Participate in the Cash for Clunkers Program

You may have heard about the Cash for Clunkers program in the United States, but have questions about how to participate. This article seeks to answer those questions, and hopefully get you into a newer, more fuel-efficient vehicle.

Decide that you actually want to trade your current vehicle in.If your car is relatively new, is a desirable model or is is performing well, it may be worth more than the money you would receive under this program.
Make sure that you can afford a potentially higher car payment. Check to see if your insurance will increase if you buy a new car. Be sure to factor that in to your cost calculations. See if your car qualifies:Your current vehicle must be a 1984 model year or newer.You must have owned and operated it, and had it registered and insured in your name for no fewer than 12 months. It must have been certified to get 18 miles per gallon or fewer when it was brand new. The owner of the trade-in must have their name on the title of the new vehicle. The 'clunker' must be in drivable condition.

Go shopping for a new car. If your trade is reliable, bring it as well, along with your registration for it and its title.Do your research to determine what kind of vehicle will best meet your needs, and what models that do so get the best gas mileage. Check organizations such as Consumer Reports to learn about the reliability of the vehicle models you are interested in. Look for other incentives that may be available to you in addition to the Cash for Clunkers rebate. Be sure to purchase a new car that gets at least 4 MPG better than your original car. The amount of rebate you qualify for is affected by the difference in mileage between old and new vehicles.If the new vehicle gets 4-9 miles per gallon more than the trade, you qualify for $3,500 under the Cash for Clunkers program.
If the new vehicle gets 10 or more miles per gallon more than the trade, you qualify for $4,500 under the Cash for Clunkers program.

Check your car's eligibility for the program at this government fuel economy website: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/CarsSearchIntro.shtml. Use the dealer locator form on the CARS site to find participating dealers: http://www.cars.gov/dealer-locator.The Cash for Clunkers program is not subject to any kind of testing of the trade-in vehicle. As long as it can be driven, it qualifies. You should be able to transfer your registration from the trade to the new vehicle.While the program is funded by the American government and the top vehicles bought are American cars, you do not need to buy an American car to qualify.
Getting a rebate under this program does not preclude getting a rebate under any other incentive programs.Your Cash for Clunkers rebate can be combined with other dealer incentives, such as special financing options. Your Cash for Clunkers rebate can also be combined with other governmental incentive programs such as the hybrid tax credit.

The mileage of your trade is what it was when it was brand new, not what it is now. Your car could get 13-15 miles per gallon, but still not qualify if it got 20 MPG when it rolled off the lot. Your trade might be worth more than the benefit you qualify for, in which case you don't want this program at all, and should negotiate a tradeIf you know what mileage your car got brand new, you know what your trade is worth under this program. If a dealer tells you different, get out - they may be trying to cheat you.The car you trade under this program will be destroyed, under the rules of the program. If it has any sentimental value, consider another option.