When President Obama signs the "cash for clunkers" bill approved by the Senate yesterday,a database will go into effect allowing low-gas-mileage car owners to calculate how much they can get for trading in their fuel-thirsty vehicles.
According to the Daily Breeze, a clunker is officially defined as any car made from 1984 onward that gets a combined street/highway mileage of 18 mpg or under. There seem to be two classes of vehicle targeted here -- the ancient Country Squire station wagons you hear shuddering down the street or burly SUVs that all but need to be umbilicaled to a gas pump.
Associated Press reports that eligible car owners could receive a $3,500 voucher to be used to purchase a new car that gets at least 22 mpg -- or $4,500 if the new car gets 10 mpg more than the clunker. For SUV, van or pickup owners, that $3,500 voucher jumps to $4,500 if the new, similar vehicle gets at least 5 mpg than the old one. The program is good from July through November.
The Daily Breeze piece links to a searchable database that
matches car models to eligibility. For example, my old 1993 Nissan
Pathfinder SUV with 4WD and a combined street/highway rating of 15 mpg,
definitely qualifies for a voucher that is worth more than what I
unloaded the car for four years ago. Not everyone is sold on the new
Under the headline, "Don't Count on Cash for Clunkers," a Kiplinger.com
report claims that "few cars qualify, unless they have large engines
and are meant to go very fast. SUVs and trucks are the real culprits,
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so the plan is skewed heavily in their favor--and benefits the Detroit
automakers who sold a lot of SUVs and trucks." The report also points
out that clunker owners can in many cases receive more money for their
vehicles by selling them.