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June 30, 2009 09:50 PM

Money Matters: Cash For Clunkers


We've told you how the new Cash for Clunkers federal rebate program signed by President Obama is expected to put more of a strain on the already tight used car market.  But a lot of people are asking how this new rebate program works to put them into a new vehicle.


The first thing you need to know is that it's no longer called Cash for Clunkers, but rather the Car Allowance Rebate System, or C.A.R.S for short.

Basically, if you want to get into a new car, you may be able to get $3500 or $4500 to go toward a new one. But it's important to note that is not on top of the trade-in value of your vehicle. Local dealers expect to see cars in the $500 to $1,000 price range coming in.

Here's how you know if your car qualifies for the trade in credit:

• It has to be less than 25 years old.

• It gets 18 miles a gallon or less.

• It's drivable, registered and has been insured for the past year.

The law allocates $1 billion for the program, which is being administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The NHTSA has 30 days to put out the details of the plan, which will end November 1.

You don't need a voucher. The car dealer will apply the rebate. Beware of scams going around online that ask consumers to pre-register. That's not part of the program. Cars traded in on the program will be scrapped.

Car Allowance Rebate System
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