2010 Ford Focus
Cash for Clunkers, now officially known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), is a federal program designed to stimulate U.S. auto sales and improve the environment by providing an economic incentive for consumers to replace old, gas-guzzling vehicles with new, more fuel-efficient models, such as the 2009 Ford Focus and 2009 Ford Escape.
The main question we hear being asked is if certain cars are going to be eligible for trade in or not. Well, Ford is taking the guesswork out of the process. You can now find out if your car qualifies for the $3500 to $4500 vouchers with their new Qualification Calculator.
The way the program works is simple. Say for example you have a 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood that as-new was rated at 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway (according to adjusted EPA fuel economy estimates). Your combined fuel economy works out to 17 mpg, one MPG below the 18-mpg limit specified by the bill. Now, in order for you to receive the maximum $4500 voucher to use towards a brand-new car, you would have to purchase one that gets at least 10 mpg more than your old car. In the 2009 Ford Focus’s case, it’s easy–it gets 24 mpg in the city and a whopping 35 mpg on the highway. Combined fuel economy is 29 mpg, easily surpassing the government’s mandate.
So, not only do you get to put $4500 towards a brand-new 2009 Ford Focus, but you also get the added benefit of getting 12 more mpg than your old vehicle. The national average for gas today is $3.03. A 40-mile trip in your old 17-mpg vehicle would cost you $7.13. The same trip in a Focus would only cost $4.18. How can you argue with numbers like those?
Here’s another example for light truck, van and SUV owners: Let’s say you have a 1994 Chevy Astro. New, the Astro was rated at 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway—running premium fuel, no less (ouch!). Based on adjusted EPA fuel economy estimates, that averages out to a combined 16 mpg. If you choose a 2009 Ford Escape, which achieves 20 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and averages a combined 24 mpg, you would be eligible to receive the full $4500 voucher as the new vehicle gets more than 5 mpg better fuel economy than the old one. On top of getting a huge government discount on a brand-new 2009 Ford Escape, you get cargo space comparable to the vehicle you’re replacing. It truly is a win-win deal. That is, unless you happen to be an inefficient and obsolete Chevy Astro.
Cars for Clunkers Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 13, 2009
Q: Does my vehicle qualify?
If your car, truck or SUV gets a combined 18mpg or less, you will qualify for a voucher. Combined mpg equals the average of your vehicle’s city and highway MPG ratings. For example, a 1997 Ford Explorer gets 14/20 mpg for city/hwy, which averages out to 17 mpg. This vehicle would qualify for a voucher. Your vehicle also MUST be a 1985 model or newer. It must also have passed the latest smog test.
Q: Will the mpg be based on what my car is currently getting or what it got when it was brand new?
It’s impossible to get the individual fuel economy ratings from every single vehicle, so the current EPA ratings will be used to determine if your car, truck or SUV is eligible.
Q: Is there a website I can go to that will show me an official EPA rating for my vehicle?
Q: How long does the Cash for Clunkers Program last?
The program will start on July 23, 2009 and end on November 1, 2009.
Q: What happens to my car when I trade it in?
The dealership where you pick up your brand-new car will send your old vehicle out to get dismantled and recycled, further helping the environment.
Q: Can I buy my car back from the government?
No, because the idea is to remove the vehicle from public roads to make driving safer and cleaner.
Q: Can I trade my voucher in for cash?
No, the vouchers are only valid for new vehicle purchases.
Q: What brand of car, truck or SUV can I buy using the voucher?
Any vehicle that gets at least 2mpg more than your older vehicle in addition to a minimum combined fuel economy of 22mpg. The vehicle must also cost less than $45,000.
Q: Can the voucher be combined with other incentives?
Yes, since the voucher is provided by the federal government, many manufacturer rebates and financing offers still apply.
Q: How much will I get if my vehicle qualifies?
|Cash for Clunkers Summary|
|Passenger Car||Light Duty Truck||Large Light-Duty Truck*||Work Truck**|
|Minimum Fuel Economy for New Vehicle||22 mpg(EPA combined)||18 mpg(EPA combined)||15 mpg(EPA combined)||Trade-in must be at least pre-2002|
|$3,500 Voucher||Mileage improvement of at least 4 mpg||Mileage improvement of at least 2 mpg||Mileage improvement of at least 1 mpg or trade-in of a Work Truck.||Replacement vehicle must be similar in size or smaller than trade-in|
|$4,500 Voucher||Mileage improvement of at least 10 mpg||Mileage improvement of at least 5 mpg||Mileage improvement of at least 2 mpg|
* 6,000 – 8,500 pounds
** 8,500 – 10,000 pounds