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CARS and your money: How to cash in on the CARS program


Chart shows top 10 vehicle purchases and trade-ins

to date  and fuel economy of the vehicles

for the cash for clunkers program.

Considering buying a new car?  The government's CARS program, the CAR allowance rebate system, just got an additional $2B to keep the program running.  This program was initially given $1B and expected to last until November - but funds quickly ran out within the first 10 days!  Two metro Atlanta dealers put on hold on new applications until the Senate approved additional funds (read article here) when funds ran out on Tuesday.  

This program has been promoted to car buyers as not only a way to put more green/fuel efficient vehicles on the road, but also as a way to revitalize the economy and the auto industry.  One important thing for potential car buyers to know is that the "cash for clunkers" program may not fall under your traditional definition of a "clunker".

The requirements to participate in the CARS program are as follows:

  • Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old (based on the manufacturer's date on the inside panel of the door)
  • Only purchases or leases of new vehicles apply
  • In general, your trade-in must get 18 or less mpg
  • Trade-ins must have been registered and insured in your name for the year preceding the trade
  • Vehicle must be in operating condition
  • No voucher is required, the dealer will process the paperwork
  • Program expries November 1, 2009 or when funds expire (whichever comes first)
  • The program requires your trade-in vehicle to be scrapped, and that the dealer inform you of the scrap value.  This value will be added to your CARS program rebate.

When reviewing the items above, it is important to note that your car must be 25 years old or newer.  Therefore, newer cars that meet the mpg requirement still qualify!  If you have an '07, '08, or '09 gas guzzler that is breaking the bank at the gas pump - now is the time to trade it in for that Toyota Prius or Honda Fit you have been noticing on the road!

You can check to see if your specific car qualifies for the program by checking here.

Happy Car Hunting!


  • Leigh (Memphis Budget Meals Examiner) 5 years ago

    Congrats on joining the Examiner family! Thanks for using me as your referral.

  • Chavarous 5 years ago

    That's very useful information. Thank you for writing about this. I have always wondered if I qualified for the program because I have an older model vehicle. Can't wait to read the next one.

  • jimhenry 5 years ago

    For working trucks the rule is not based on the fuel efficieny. As long as it is manufactured before 2001 they all qualify
    but cannot be older than 25 years old.


  • Sonar 5 years ago

    Very good article.. Antwan and I was just thinking about trading one of his older trucks and get me a more fuel efficient vehicle. Please you put your stamp on it; we may just go and see....

  • Melissa 5 years ago

    Thank you to everyone for your comments! More great articles to come!