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Cash for Clunkers Finally Passes, Not as Good as First Hoped

Cash for ClunkersThe "cash for clunkers" bill has finally passed which means new car buyers can get vouchers of up to $4,500 when buying a new car. Here's how it works:

In order to qualify, you first need to have an older vehicle that gets a combined fuel economy rating of 18 mpg or less.

To see if your car qualifies, check FuelEconomy.gov.

Next, you need to buy a new car that gets at least 22 mpg. If you buy a pickup truck, or work truck, the MPG requirement is much lower. That's basically a quick overview. The chart below shows exactly what qualifies for what:

Passenger Car Light Duty Truck Large Truck Work Truck
Minimum MPG for New Car (combined) 22 mpg 18 mpg 15 mpg Work Truck Only
$3,500 Voucher 4 mpg Improvement 2 mpg Improvement 1 mpg Improvement or trade-in of a Work Truck. Trade-in must be 2001 or Older
$4,500 Voucher 10 mpg Improvement 5 mpg Improvement 2 mpg Improvement

If you do get a voucher, your old car will be taken off public roads and sent to the scrap yard. You will not get any money for the trade-in - just the voucher. So if your older car is worth more than $4,500, this program is not for you. And that's where the criticism of this bill comes from.

Generally, people who drive a much older car worth less than $4,500 are not going to be trading up to a brand new car. To make this program really worthwhile, you'll need to trade in an old junk car worth less than $2,500. Most analysts feel this bill will not make a huge difference in new car sales and we feel the same way. However, if you really do have an old junky car and you've been thinking of buying new, than this is a great program for you.

The bill is supposed to take effect July 1, 2009 but it may be postponed for up to 30 days.

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About The Author

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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