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Government Screws Up "Cash for Clunkers"

July 30, 2009

Cash for Clunkers If you're like most people who visit this site, your goal is to save as much money as possible when buying a car.

Car buyers who are serious about saving money prepare ahead of time. We've been telling you about the "cash for clunkers" program for months now and most of you have checked the fueleconomy.gov site to see if your car qualifies for the program.

Now we find out the EPA decided to review the mileage ratings of 30,000 models from the past 25 years and changed the mileage ratings of some eligible models.

Under the "cash for clunkers" program, you can only trade in vehicles that get 18 mpg or less.

The EPA changed the ratings so that about 50 vehicles that didn't qualify before now do.

The bad part: they changed about 50 vehicles which used to qualify but now don't!

So for those of you who prepared ahead of time and checked your fuel ratings, you better check again to make sure your trade-in still qualifies.

There have been many angry car shoppers who only found out about the change at the dealership when they were ready to buy.

Some popular models that no longer qualify are:

As if this wasn't bad enough, the program didn't launch on time because dealers couldn't login to register the trade-ins. Apparently, some knucklehead decided to put the online registration on the same server as the cars.gov web site (which went down due to heavy traffic).

Everything seems to be working now, but again, we recommend you double check the fuel ratings before buying a new car.

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My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle, Edmunds Price Promise, and 1-800 Car Show are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.

California Residents - Important:

There is a new online car buying service called Roadster, available only to California residents, which I highly recommend you try - especially if you hate the stress of haggling with a car salesman. They provide an expert concierge who negotiates the price of the car and delivers it to your home with zero hassle - you never have to interact with a dealership. Here is my in-depth review of Roadster and why I recommend it.

- Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan


Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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