Cash For Clunkers. Worst Law Ever?

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A $ 1 billion dollar budget is just about out of gas.

After just seven days, it appears the Government is all out of money for the Cash for Clunkers program. Congress passed the program and gave it an ending date of Nov. 1 or when the $1 billion budget was spent. According to CNN Money, money is drying up fast.

Clunkers Law: It gives car buyers vouchers worth up to $4,500 toward a new car, providing they trade in a gas-guzzler. Sounds like the perfect way to jump start car-buying while cleaning up the environment, but it probably won’t do either one. Because when you look at the fine print, almost nobody will get the full benefit.

For example, the $3,500 to $4,500 voucher only kicks in if your trade-in is worth less than that. In other words, if the car you’re trading in is worth more than $4,500, you won’t get a dime.

Problem two? Your trade-in car has to get 18 miles per gallon or less. While some trucks and SUVs will pass that test, almost all cars…even old ones…get better mileage than that.

So the Cash for Clunkers program is really only good for people who are driving a gas guzzler worth less than $4,500: probably a group of people who are either very frugal… or can’t afford a new car.

And if you’re in either of those groups, you’re probably better off selling that gas guzzler yourself, rather than accepting a lousy trade-in offer, then buying a used car that gets better mileage.

If you’re driving a clunker and thinking about buying a new car, you should check your car’s gas mileage at the EPA website… and it’s trade-in value. Read the details and restrictions of this new program, then see if it makes sense.

But the bottom line of this new deal is that’s it’s really not much of a deal at all, for you, Detroit, or the environment.

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Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • http://www.cars4charities.org/ karenc

    Cash for Clunkers has a negative consequence. It will harm car donations to charity because the voucher is much greater than the tax deduction. Congress could have stimulated car sales by just returning to allowing car donors to claim the book value as their tax deduction. Since most donated cars are recycled, there would be an environmental benefit as well.

  • http://www.cars4charities.org karenc

    Cash for Clunkers has a negative consequence. It will harm car donations to charity because the voucher is much greater than the tax deduction. Congress could have stimulated car sales by just returning to allowing car donors to claim the book value as their tax deduction. Since most donated cars are recycled, there would be an environmental benefit as well.

  • http://a-place-for-my-thoughts.blogspot.com/ Via

    A little thoughtful tweaking, and the law could have been a win-win-win.

    Instead, sad to say, this law seems not to have been thought out very well on several fronts.

    C’mon Congress, get it together. Sheesh.

  • http://a-place-for-my-thoughts.blogspot.com/ Via

    A little thoughtful tweaking, and the law could have been a win-win-win.

    Instead, sad to say, this law seems not to have been thought out very well on several fronts.

    C’mon Congress, get it together. Sheesh.

  • nea

    This has to be the worst government idiotic plan ever, They’re destroy cars that parts could be used if not running, or perfectly running cars can could be given to people and families in need. Also, If you sign up on the website Cash.gov in the disclaimer (Read) the government owns your computer. that’s crazy I heard it on the Kim Commando Show

  • nea

    This has to be the worst government idiotic plan ever, They’re destroy cars that parts could be used if not running, or perfectly running cars can could be given to people and families in need. Also, If you sign up on the website Cash.gov in the disclaimer (Read) the government owns your computer. that’s crazy I heard it on the Kim Commando Show

  • Tom

    The real environmentally dangerous clunkers out there are owned by folks who can not afford to buy and insure a new car. When first talked about they said that the idea was to include trades for later model cars with better MPG. Poorer folks could then buy just a better used car. As it is, the CARS program is an unfair benefit for the middle class and failing car dealers only. I bet my share of the crown that dealers were behind this boondoggle from jump

  • Tom

    The real environmentally dangerous clunkers out there are owned by folks who can not afford to buy and insure a new car. When first talked about they said that the idea was to include trades for later model cars with better MPG. Poorer folks could then buy just a better used car. As it is, the CARS program is an unfair benefit for the middle class and failing car dealers only. I bet my share of the crown that dealers were behind this boondoggle from jump

  • Adriel

    Someone does benefit from this program, the banks.

    This program gets people go to a bank to get a loan for a car they don’t need, with money they don’t have then interest gets paid to the ones put us in this hole to begin with, the banks.

    And these billions of dollars for this program are coming out from our pockets! It doesn’t make sense! Unless you own a big bank.

  • Adriel

    Someone does benefit from this program, the banks.

    This program gets people go to a bank to get a loan for a car they don’t need, with money they don’t have then interest gets paid to the ones put us in this hole to begin with, the banks.

    And these billions of dollars for this program are coming out from our pockets! It doesn’t make sense! Unless you own a big bank.

  • http://www.garagesalestracker.com/ Garage sales

    THE negative sentiment what is wrong with you people. Always trying to demonize someone this program is working and you are MAD?

    “And if you’re in either of those groups, you’re probably better off selling that gas guzzler yourself, rather than accepting a lousy trade-in offer, then buying a used car that gets better mileage.”

    If they sell that car that means someone else is still driving around the guzzler and its not being retired and is still polluting the environment while using up more fossil fuels. The laws of unintended consequences would be better rendered in this argument.

  • http://www.garagesalestracker.com Garage sales

    THE negative sentiment what is wrong with you people. Always trying to demonize someone this program is working and you are MAD?

    “And if you’re in either of those groups, you’re probably better off selling that gas guzzler yourself, rather than accepting a lousy trade-in offer, then buying a used car that gets better mileage.”

    If they sell that car that means someone else is still driving around the guzzler and its not being retired and is still polluting the environment while using up more fossil fuels. The laws of unintended consequences would be better rendered in this argument.

  • Debbie Bielas

    This program does not get the real clunkers off the road. They should have called it “Cash for Gas Guzzler”. I am a single parent struggling to make ends meet. The car I have was given to me by my parents in 2001. It is a 1993 Saturn SL2 and you guessed it does not qualify for this program. Sure it may have gotten 24 MPG when it rolled out the door, but trust me I have no way of evening telling that at this point because it stopped rolling over 3 years ago at 132,549 miles. It is a 4 cylinder and about two months ago it started jerking when in idle so I had someone who works on cars do some testing on it. I was advised that I needed to get a new car because cyl 2 is burnt out. So I am really honestly in need to get this “True Clunker” off the road before it dies on me but have no way of doing this.

  • Debbie Bielas

    This program does not get the real clunkers off the road. They should have called it “Cash for Gas Guzzler”. I am a single parent struggling to make ends meet. The car I have was given to me by my parents in 2001. It is a 1993 Saturn SL2 and you guessed it does not qualify for this program. Sure it may have gotten 24 MPG when it rolled out the door, but trust me I have no way of evening telling that at this point because it stopped rolling over 3 years ago at 132,549 miles. It is a 4 cylinder and about two months ago it started jerking when in idle so I had someone who works on cars do some testing on it. I was advised that I needed to get a new car because cyl 2 is burnt out. So I am really honestly in need to get this “True Clunker” off the road before it dies on me but have no way of doing this.

  • rocky patterson

    cash for clunkers law, rules etc. were and are too stiff to say it politely. My vehichle take your choice I have 2, chevy silvarado 1993 anf F-15o, 1997 but oh could not get the state of texas registration department to give me a copy because the young adalesents whom drive them to school and or college cleaned out the vehichles and threw away this very important paper work for the current and past year which would quallify them even though they are but dealers and law stated that is just the way it is. I tried for the copies twice, then was told maybe austin could help but could not get through and finally guess what , the deal ended today august 24 but was to end 7:00 pm, , but dealers only told me monday they quit taking applications and along with the usual comment the Government hasnt paid me yet well heres what I say to dealers and manufactures alike. You had a good run and all you did was stop rebates etc. mark up cars and over charged most consumers as you all do and I hope you dont sell another car after today and you have to drop your over inflated plastic made vehichles pricing in order to make a sell way below what even the government tried to do for the car makers, which was to repay our tax debt they gave you! and in closing the goverment only tried to give me some of what I paid in on taxes since I was 16 years old approximately 33 years ago, so please mr. goverment I would like my 4500.00 dollar voucher as well not for myself but how about the 6 kids im raising and sending to school in these clunkers and oh yea the two twins are my neices, their father was incarcerated and well as family could not let the leagal system take them and oh yea no support from the government or stat but thats a hole new gripe of mine because if you lock em up their social security should come to the kids. yea kinda mad but still standing proud and firm, Ill do what I gota do. thanks to all who read and listen had to blow some steam! tough in Texas with life (BY)

  • rocky patterson

    cash for clunkers law, rules etc. were and are too stiff to say it politely. My vehichle take your choice I have 2, chevy silvarado 1993 anf F-15o, 1997 but oh could not get the state of texas registration department to give me a copy because the young adalesents whom drive them to school and or college cleaned out the vehichles and threw away this very important paper work for the current and past year which would quallify them even though they are but dealers and law stated that is just the way it is. I tried for the copies twice, then was told maybe austin could help but could not get through and finally guess what , the deal ended today august 24 but was to end 7:00 pm, , but dealers only told me monday they quit taking applications and along with the usual comment the Government hasnt paid me yet well heres what I say to dealers and manufactures alike. You had a good run and all you did was stop rebates etc. mark up cars and over charged most consumers as you all do and I hope you dont sell another car after today and you have to drop your over inflated plastic made vehichles pricing in order to make a sell way below what even the government tried to do for the car makers, which was to repay our tax debt they gave you! and in closing the goverment only tried to give me some of what I paid in on taxes since I was 16 years old approximately 33 years ago, so please mr. goverment I would like my 4500.00 dollar voucher as well not for myself but how about the 6 kids im raising and sending to school in these clunkers and oh yea the two twins are my neices, their father was incarcerated and well as family could not let the leagal system take them and oh yea no support from the government or stat but thats a hole new gripe of mine because if you lock em up their social security should come to the kids. yea kinda mad but still standing proud and firm, Ill do what I gota do. thanks to all who read and listen had to blow some steam! tough in Texas with life (BY)

  • rocky patterson

    cash for clunkers law, rules etc. were and are too stiff to say it politely. My vehichle take your choice I have 2, chevy silvarado 1993 anf F-15o, 1997 but oh could not get the state of texas registration department to give me a copy because the young adalesents whom drive them to school and or college cleaned out the vehichles and threw away this very important paper work for the current and past year which would quallify them even though they are but dealers and law stated that is just the way it is. I tried for the copies twice, then was told maybe austin could help but could not get through and finally guess what , the deal ended today august 24 but was to end 7:00 pm, , but dealers only told me monday they quit taking applications and along with the usual comment the Government hasnt paid me yet well heres what I say to dealers and manufactures alike. You had a good run and all you did was stop rebates etc. mark up cars and over charged most consumers as you all do and I hope you dont sell another car after today and you have to drop your over inflated plastic made vehichles pricing in order to make a sell way below what even the government tried to do for the car makers, which was to repay our tax debt they gave you! and in closing the goverment only tried to give me some of what I paid in on taxes since I was 16 years old approximately 33 years ago, so please mr. goverment I would like my 4500.00 dollar voucher as well not for myself but how about the 6 kids im raising and sending to school in these clunkers and oh yea the two twins are my neices, their father was incarcerated and well as family could not let the leagal system take them and oh yea no support from the government or stat but thats a hole new gripe of mine because if you lock em up their social security should come to the kids. yea kinda mad but still standing proud and firm, Ill do what I gota do. thanks to all who read and listen had to blow some steam! tough in Texas with life (BY)

  • rocky patterson

    cash for clunkers law, rules etc. were and are too stiff to say it politely. My vehichle take your choice I have 2, chevy silvarado 1993 anf F-15o, 1997 but oh could not get the state of texas registration department to give me a copy because the young adalesents whom drive them to school and or college cleaned out the vehichles and threw away this very important paper work for the current and past year which would quallify them even though they are but dealers and law stated that is just the way it is. I tried for the copies twice, then was told maybe austin could help but could not get through and finally guess what , the deal ended today august 24 but was to end 7:00 pm, , but dealers only told me monday they quit taking applications and along with the usual comment the Government hasnt paid me yet well heres what I say to dealers and manufactures alike. You had a good run and all you did was stop rebates etc. mark up cars and over charged most consumers as you all do and I hope you dont sell another car after today and you have to drop your over inflated plastic made vehichles pricing in order to make a sell way below what even the government tried to do for the car makers, which was to repay our tax debt they gave you! and in closing the goverment only tried to give me some of what I paid in on taxes since I was 16 years old approximately 33 years ago, so please mr. goverment I would like my 4500.00 dollar voucher as well not for myself but how about the 6 kids im raising and sending to school in these clunkers and oh yea the two twins are my neices, their father was incarcerated and well as family could not let the leagal system take them and oh yea no support from the government or stat but thats a hole new gripe of mine because if you lock em up their social security should come to the kids. yea kinda mad but still standing proud and firm, Ill do what I gota do. thanks to all who read and listen had to blow some steam! tough in Texas with life (BY)

  • cydonia16

    Hopefully it wont be long before they realize how damaging this law might be to h=the auto industry, I know lots of people, myself included who take advantage of Car Donations but this law would make it very hard for people to do so. Especially young families who are tight on money after the recession but need a new car.