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Cash for Clunkers is a Crock
The cheesy, local car dealer commercials are abuzz with this new, federal Cash for Clunkers plan. It was supposedly designed to do two things; increase the average fuel economy of cars on the road and encourage people to go out and buy new (hopefully American) cars.

It sounds so good too. My sister-in-law is driving a pretty beat up '98 Ford Taurus. It's got 125,000 miles on it's V6 engine. It overheats if it idles too long. Air conditioning is busted. It makes funny noises. Cash for Clunkers right? God, that sounds like a clunker to me. She definitely needs a new vehicle.

So a crew of us set out for some car dealers this past Saturday morning. We ended up having a very long chat with a salesman at a local Chevy dealer. She can't afford much. I had done some of the math ahead of time and thought it was remotely possible that we could get her a car payment at or under $200. She only wants an entry level vehicle. GM is offering 0% financing for five years and she was going to get $3500 or $4500 for her piece of junk car. This had us looking at both a Cobalt and an Aveo.

We walked the lot and had a lot of discussions. We ended up having a list of about six possible cars and went inside to start the process of talking about numbers. It was after about 15 minutes of this that we got the terrible news. Her piece of crap, gas guzzling, V6 Taurus was not a clunker according to the government. It's combined fuel economy was 19. She wanted to trade it for any one of cars that ranged from 25-30 combined. While this is a pretty substantial difference, enough of a difference that even the salespeople didn't even give it a second thought, the car doesn't meet the first rule of the program. Your trade vehicle must have a combined fuel economy (based on the government standards from when it was new) of 18 miles per gallon or less. Seriously? So quite literally, she could have attempted to trade her 11 year old V6 in for a brand new Prius, and the government wouldn't give her the $4500 bucks.

We were pretty darn disappointed. All I can say is, if an 11 year old car with 125,000 miles and a V6 doesn't qualify, what the heck does? A very small percentage of cars, that's what. The program is garbage. It isn't stimulus. It's not going to affect the environment in any major way. It's a small government program that helps a small number of new car buyers. President Obama wants to increase the average fuel economy requirement for cars to 39 miles per gallon by 2016, thus killing sports cars. If that's his plan for an average car, maybe he should rethink what counts as a clunker.
By Mike on July 26, 2009 at 9:25pm EDT Topic(s): cash for clunkers government cars

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