cash for clunkers browsing by tag



Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Under a “Cash For Clunkers Bill”, car owners might earn $4500 Windfalls by trading in their gas guzzlers for vehicles with better mileage. Here are over 20 vehicles that would qualify. Do you own one?…

Acura, made by Honda

1989 Acura Legend Sedan © American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

1989 Acura Legend sedan, four-door model with automatic transmission

Trading in this car in most circumstances would bring you only about $475. But because the automatic gets 18 miles per gallon, it could net an owner up to $4,500 in the cash-for-clunkers program. Other Acuras, including most models of the NSX, would qualify from a fuel-efficiency standpoint. But they’d be worth more in a sale, unless they were in really terrible condition.

Buick, made by GM

2002 Buick Rendezvous © Car Culture/Corbis

2002 Buick Rendezvous CXL all-wheel-drive SUV

Even in excellent condition, this car still qualifies as a clunker. Its average trade-in value is less than $4,200, and it gets just 18 mpg. 

Cadillac, made by GM


2001 Cadillac DeVille Sedan © GM


2001 Cadillac DeVille sedan

The DeVille gets about 18 mpg and generally is worth a little less than $2,850 in a trade-in. It wouldn’t be the only Cadillac to qualify for a clunker voucher. Most models of the Catera and the Eldorado made before 1999 would qualify and be well worth the vouchers.

Chevrolet, made by GM

1999 Chevrolet Astro Minivan © MSN Autos

1999 Chevrolet Astro van

At only 15 mpg, this van is a big gas guzzler. But under the cash-for-clunkers program, that would be a good thing, because the government vouchers would be worth more than the average trade-in value. Some other Chevrolets that would meet the mpg standards: the Blazer, Venture, Tahoe, Trailblazer and Silverado.


2002 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan © MSN Autos


2002 Chrysler Town & Country LX minivan

This car gets about 17 mpg and usually nets about $3,675 on a trade-in — which would make it worth doing through the cash-for-clunkers program if the owner upgraded to a car that got 10 mpg more and thus qualified for the full $4,500 voucher.



Dodge, made by Chrysler

Dodge Durango © DaimlerChrysler


 1999 Dodge Durango SUV 

The Durango gets between 12 and 14 mpg, depending on the model. That would make it easy to find a vehicle that met the necessary mileage improvements to qualify for the full government voucher. The 1999 model generally brings in less than $2,800 in good condition.



2003 Ford Crown Victoria LX © 2003 Ford Motor Co.

2003 Ford Crown Victoria sedan

Newer versions of the Crown Victoria still get 18 mpg or less but are worth more than $4,500 in a trade. The 2003 model is the newest one that would be worth trading in through the government’s clunkers program


GMC, made by GM

1999 GMC Suburban © MSN Autos

1999 GMC Suburban 1500 SUV

The Suburban gets about 14 mpg and has about $2,300 in trade-in value. Most GMC SUVs and trucks qualify from a mileage standpoint. The newest models of the Sierra, Savana, Sonoma and Yukon still get 18 mpg or less.


2001 Honda Odyssey LX © American Honda Motor Co.

2001 Honda Odyssey LX minivan

The 2001 Odyssey would make the cut for a clunker voucher. It averages 18 mpg and less than $4,200 on trade-ins. Honda improved the van’s fuel efficiency the next year.


2003 Hyundai XG350 Sedan © MSN Autos


2003 Hyundai XG350 sedan

Hyundai typically makes pretty fuel-efficient cars. The XG350, however, was not one of them. The 2003 and 2004 XG350 models got just 18 mpg. They’re ordinarily worth about $4,300 on trade-ins.

Infiniti, made by Nissan

1990 Infiniti Q45 Sedan © Nissan

1992 Infiniti Q45 sedan

This one-time luxury vehicle isn’t so posh today. It gets just 17 mpg and is usually worth less than $550 on a trade-in, assuming it was driven an average of 12,000 miles a year. Infiniti lovers may want to opt for a G37 instead; it gets the best gas mileage of all the 2009 models.

Jeep, made by Chrysler

 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo © DaimlerChrysler

2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo SUV

The Grand Cherokee is one of the biggest gas guzzlers in the Jeep line. The vehicle got just 15 mpg in 2001 and would be worth about $3,500 in a trade-in. The 2009 model isn’t much better: It gets 17 mpg. More-fuel-efficient Jeep models include the Patriot and the Compass.


2002 Kia Sedona Minivan © MSN Autos

2002 Kia Sedona LX minivan

Kia makes relatively fuel-efficient vehicles. The Sedona and Sorrento are two, however, that consistently are rated at 18 mpg or less. The 2002 Sedona model would probably warrant less than $1,700 in a trade-in.

Lincoln, made by Ford

1999 Lincoln Town Car © MSN Autos



1999 Lincoln Town Car Executive sedan

The Lincoln may be the limo for overworked executives who can put car service home on their expense accounts, but older Lincolns don’t warrant the luxury price tag. The 1999 Town Car, on average, would bring in less than $2,800 on a trade-in and get just 18 mpg.

Mercury, made by Ford

2003 Mercury Grand Marquis GS Sedan © MSN Autos

2003 Mercury Grand Marquis GS sedan

The Grand Marquis is similar to the Ford Crown Victoria in both style and mileage. This car gets 18 mpg and generally is worth just more than $4,300 on a trade-in.


1999 Nissan Pathfinder XE Sport Utility © Nissan

1999 Nissan Pathfinder XE SUV

The Pathfinder gets about 15 mpg and nets around $2,500 on a trade-in. Unfortunately for Pathfinder fanatics, upgrading to a new Pathfinder wouldn’t be possible through the cash-for-clunkers program, because the fuel efficiency hasn’t improved more than 1 mpg.

Oldsmobile, made by GM

2003 Oldsmobile Aurora Sedan © GM

2003 Oldsmobile Aurora sedan

The Aurora’s light no longer shines so brightly. On average, the car is worth about $4,300

Plymouth, made by Chrysler

1999 Plymouth Voyager © MSN Autos


1999 Plymouth Voyager minivan

A trade-in value of just $675 would make the Voyager well worth the trip to a dealership for new-car buyers taking advantage of the cash-for-clunkers program. The maximum government voucher would be about $3,825 more than the van’s value.

Not all Voyagers would qualify, however. Only the four-speed automatic models with 3.3-liter engines or larger meet the mileage qualification.

Pontiac, made by GM

2002 Pontiac Aztek © GM

2002 Pontiac Aztek SUV

The Aztek is worth around $2,500 in good condition, so the government’s vouchers would throw some more gold into the pot for owners. The vehicle gets just 18 mpg.


1999 Toyota 4 Runner © Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.

1999 Toyota 4Runner

Nearly all 4Runner models get 18 mpg or less. The 1999 version will also give owners a hefty trade-in bonus if the clunkers bill passes. Its book value is just $3,000.


1999 Volkswagen Eurovan GLS Minivan © Volkswagen America Inc.

1999 Volkswagen EuroVan GLS minivan

Volkswagen really didn’t start making gas guzzlers until the mid-2000s, when it added more SUVs to its lineup. Until then, it was all small, relatively environmentally friendly Golfs, Beetles and Jettas. The EuroVan is an exception. The 1999 model of this minivan gets just 15 mpg and, at least in some locations, is worth just under $4,500.






Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

The “cash for clunkers” provisions are included in an appropriations bill sent to President Barack Obama on June 18th, 2009. The details and a system for distributing and collecting vouchers may take regulators 30 to 45 days to implement, making late July or early August the soonest the incentives could be available.

The bill provides $1 billion for the program through November. Using Congressional Budget Office estimates, about 150,000 vouchers will be issued.

Here is the likely process to follow to participate: Dealers let you know that your trade qualifies, credit the amount to your down payment, then apply for the voucher. The program is only on new vehicles, domestic or imported, purchased or leased; and qualified vehicles must have sticker prices under $45,000. Buyers do not have to register or apply for any part of the program. Dealers do.

Qualified trade-in vehicles must be 1984 models or newer, get no better than 18 miles per gallon, and have been registered and insured during the past year.

What’s The Catch?

The vouchers aren’t a panacea for buyers. 

Car buyers must remember that their trades will be scrapped and have no value to the dealership above the amount of the voucher. For example, a 10-year-old Toyota Landcruiser might qualify for the biggest ($4,500) voucher, but it’s almost certainly worth more than that on the open market.

The rules      
  Passenger vehicle Light-duty truck Truck more than 6,000 pounds
Minimum combined mpg for new vehicle: 22 mpg 18 mpg 15 mpg
For $3,500, must beat trade-in by: 4 mpg 2 mpg 1 mpg
For $4,500, must beat trade-in by: 10 mpg 5 mpg 2 mpg
To find your trade-in’s official mpg: Visit Visit Visit
To find out what your trade is worth: Go To

So, Rule No. 1 for buyers intent on using the program: Check and double-check the value of the vehicle you want to trade. Almost any roadworthy vehicle is worth $1,000 and typically twice that if it’s an import.

Which leads to Rule No. 2: The mileage you get in your daily driving does not matter one bit. What matters is what’s on record with the government; the most likely source of data is A muffler-dragging 25-year-old Toyota may meet the popular definition of clunker, but if the government’s estimates show it got more than 18 mpg combined new, it’s not a clunker.

Rule No. 3: You can layer government programs: Trade an old pickup for a shiny Ford Fusion Hybrid, for example, and you can get $4,500 because the trade is going to the crusher and a $1,700 tax credit (a dollar-for-dollar cut in your taxes, way better than a deduction) for the new hybrid. 

Not all hybrids qualify for deductions; Toyota and Honda have sold their quotas under the law, and Ford’s expire in the fall. Check out current qualifying vehicles here. Some new “clean diesels” qualify for these credits as well; here’s a list.

On top of that, the sales tax on any new car, with a price of up to $49,500, bought between Feb. 17, 2009, and the end of the year is deductible on next year’s tax return.

Be Financial Savvy

Don’t let the thump of up to $4,500 in “free” money hitting the table distract you. Negotiate on a new car the same way you always would. The only thing different is that all the parties involved know exactly what the trade is worth upfront. 

To be financially prudent it is recommended that buyers limit loans to four years and put down at least 20% of the price of the car. It is also budget savvy to keep payments to no more than 10% of your monthly gross income.

There are critics of  the ‘cash for clunkers’ bill…

For many people, this means buying only an inexpensive new car. But they’re out there.  With a $4,500 voucher as a down payment and a four-year loan at 7.5%, the payments on a $10,000 car would only be about $133. You can see current loan rates here

On the other hand for someone with subprime credit -– a FICO score of 620 or below -– rates could easily top 15%, adding $50 a month to the payments on that $10,000 car.

If your credit is bad, even a car with $4,500 cash laying on the dash is a mistake.