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BREAKING: Feds Release Sneak Peek At Cash-For-Clunkers Rules

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U.S. Capitol

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In an effort to meet its deadline for releasing the rules of the federal "Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save" initiative (i.e. the official, clunky name of the cash-for-clunkers program), the government has released a 136-page PDF offering more detail than many will want about CARS. However, the document says very clearly at the top, "While we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of this Internet version of the document, it is not the official version." Naturally the official version will be housed at the fed's thoroughly confusing, impenetrable, Federal Register website. (Last redesign: 1998.) Hopefully, someone will have the smarts to post it to the official CARS website, which is much easier on the eyes.

As you might expect from a 136-page document, there's a lot of information here to digest. The good stuff -- as far as most of you are concerned -- is found in section IV, subsections D ("Determining Eligibility of Trade-In Vehicles and New Vehicles") and E ("Requirements for Qualifying Transactions"). Here's a quick rundown on vehicle eligibility, found on page 27:

The CARS Act establishes four criteria for an eligible trade-in vehicle. The trade-in vehicle must:

(1) be in drivable condition;

(2) have been continuously insured, in accordance with State law, and registered in the same owner’s name for the one-year period immediately prior to the trade-in;

(3) have been manufactured not earlier than 25 years before the date of trade-in and, in the case of a category 3 vehicle, also be from a model year not later than model year 2001; and

(4) have a combined fuel economy value of 18 miles per gallon or less, if it is a passenger automobile, a category 1 truck, or a category 2 truck.

There's a lot of footnoting throughout, including the standards of "drivable" and this little tidbit: "pre-model year 1984 vehicles, and most model year 1984 vehicles, are not eligible as trade-in vehicles." We suppose the line has to be drawn somewhere. Besides, who, in good conscience, could send one of Ricardo Montalban's beloved Chrysler Cordobas to the crusher?

On page 35, the discussion moves to trade-in values. For example:

"if the new vehicle has a combined fuel economy that is 4 to 9 miles per gallon higher than the trade-in vehicle, the credit is $3,500. If the new vehicle has a combined fuel economy that is atl east 10 miles per gallon higher than the trade-in vehicle, the credit is $4,500."

All useful information, but not especially surprising, given the info that's dribbled out during the past few weeks. Still, if you're looking for a way to goof off on a Friday, slogging through 136 pages of scintillating legalese is a great way to make the boss think you're really sifting through those expense reports. Alternately: fake swine flu and play hooky for the afternoon.

Fun fact: the CARS acronym used to stand for "Car Allowance Rebate System", which is just as unwieldy as "Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save", but at least it had the word "car" in its name.

[AutoNews, sub reqd; PDF download here]

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Comments (7)
  1. I have read and re-read the 136 page document. Page 33 mentions a government interactive website to help determine if you qualify and how much you qualify for. You enter your trade in and the car you want to buy.... I have looked all day for this website and have yet to find it but it sure would simplify things.
     
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  2. That would likely be the CARS website: http://www.cars.gov. It's interactive in the sense that it's clickable, but there's not a walkthrough or anything.
    .
    In their defense, it's the first day of the program, so I'd check back on Monday for an update. That's not to excuse them from having such a basic thing ready to go on launch day, simply an acknowledgment that government doesn't always move as swiftly as one would like.
     
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  3. You can either Lease or buy a new car to use the cash for clunkers program. It has to be new vehicles and not used ones.
    henry
    Blogger
    www.cashforclunkersfacts.info
    http://www.cashforclunkersfacts.info
     
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  4. Because of its many restrictions, a lot of cars will not be eligible for a voucher. A good alternative, in these cases, is charity car donation. The donor gets a tax deduction and the charity gets the proceeds from the sale of the donated car.
     
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  5. OK so I'm trading in my 86 GMC pickup (11mpg) for a new Honda Accord tomorrow. The dealer says he finally has everything in place. This deal has been on hold for weeks waiting for the official guidelines. I feel like I am getting an incredible deal but this is exactly what the program is designed for - to get old clunkers off the road and to stimulate the economy at the same time. I would not be buying a new car without this program. Hopefully everything will go smoothly tomorrow and I'll have my new car at $4,500 discount and there will be one less old polluting gas guzzler off the road. I'll let you know if all went well at the Honda dealer.
     
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  6. Ok I got my new Honda and they took the old 86 GMC pickup for "cash for clunkers" and credited $4,500 toward the new car. They knew I drove the truck there but they still took the truck out and drove it just to be sure it was "driveable". Then they poured something into the engine to ruin the engine. They were very thorough to be sure they did exactly what the Federal government said to do. I might want to mention that they said they have people waiting in line to cash in and that they guess the program's billion dollars will be spent within only a few weeks. If you are interested you better get with it soon. Good luck.
     
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  7. simply an acknowledgment that government doesn't always move as swiftly as one would like.
    jsmith
    thanks
    ...............................
    Buying New Cars
     
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