The Cash For Clunkers Program is currently running strong, but it hasn’t gone off without its share of confusion. Leading the list of confusing topics is vehicle eligibility. The parameters for eligible vehicles have been discussed for almost a year and was recently finalized. However, before finalizing the list of eligible vehicles, the EPA completed a vehicle audit of over 30,000 vehicle model types that have been sold in the US in the past 25 years.
As a result of the audit, over 100 vehicles that had previously qualified for the Cash for Clunkers program no longer qualify. This means many people will not be able to take advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program when their car was listed as eligible only a few days ago. The audit also added new vehicles to the list, so there are some people that benefited from the changes.
Is Your Car Eligible for the Cash For Clunkers Program?
To find out if your vehicle is eligible for the Cash For Clunkers Program, you will need to reference the official government Cash for Clunkers website, Cars.gov, and the official EPA fuel ratings from Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy website, fueleconomy.gov. Cars.gov also has an interactive vehicle fuel efficiency search with updated information, which can be found here. Be sure to visit the official government sites because there are many websites with false information and there are Cash for Clunkers scams popping up all over.
Trade in vehicle eligibility: Vehicles must be less than 25 years old, which can be determined by looking at the vehicle safety standard certification sticker found on the inside of the driver side door. Trade-in vehicles must get a combined 18MPG or less, and must be registered and have had insurance for the entire previous year.
Additional trade-in information: You may also be required to provide additional information, such as the number of cylinders in the engine, engine size in liters, transmission type, fuel type (gasoline or diesel), drive type (2-wheel or 4-wheel drive), Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), or even whether or not your vehicle has a supercharger or turbocharger. The dealership should be able to help you get this information if you do not know it off hand.
Here is a simplified diagram from the Wall Street Journal:
New vehicle eligibility. To qualify for the Cash for Clunkers voucher, you will need to either purchase or lease a new vehicle with a combined mpg rating of at least 22mpg for passenger cars, or at least a 1 or 2 mpg increase for large and small trucks respectively. New passenger vehicles must also have less than $45,000 MSRP. Used vehicles are not eligible for the Cash for Clunkers Program.
Looking for a new car? Buying a new car is a big event, so be sure to shop around and get multiple car quotes before signing on the dotted line. Since you may be in a time crunch, I recommend getting new car quotes over the internet for convenience and to save time.
No physical voucher needed. You don’t need a physical Cash For Clunkers voucher to take advantage of this program. Dealers will apply a credit to your purchase. The dealer qualifies your vehicle based on government provided standards, then they apply for government reimbursement.
Cash for Clunkers benefit is not taxable. The Cash for Clunkers Program does not result in a taxable benefit for participants, so you don’t need to worry about getting hit by the taxman next April. However, there may be some tax consequences of Cash for Clunkers Program for those with a business or under certain other circumstances.
Here is additional Cash For Clunkers information.