Cash for Clunkers, officially known as the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save act of 2009 (CARS) or the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) - gotta love the feds and their acronyms! I wonder if they have a job title of "Acronym Developer" or if it's a requirement across the board for all politicians to be adept at making acronyms. I digress...

So, more lovely news for environmentalists and progressive vehicle owners alike - more credits for fuel efficient vehicle purchases! Now you can get up to $4500 in a credit from the government towards the purchase of a fuel efficient vehicle that gets at least 22 combined (highway and city) miles per gallon. You can find out the combined fuel economy on your next purchase by visiting the EPA's Fuel Economy website.

As with most of these hand-outs, there are some basic criteria for qualifying:

  • The vehicle must be driveable and less than 25 years old! You can forget about towing the clunker out of your back yard and getting $4500 for it!
  • The trade-in vehicle must have a "new" combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less.
  • The trade-in vehicle must be continuously insured and registered to the same owner for the full year preceding the trade-in.
  • The new purchase must be just that - a NEW vehicle purchase. The credit is not available to buy a used car - even if it meets the other criteria. However, it does apply to new vehicle leases so long as the lease is for at least 5 years and the program is available for new domestic and foreign vehicle purchases.
  • The credit is NOT taxable and is NOT considered as income to the consumer.
  • You can combine this credit with other credits, such as the Hybrid Vehicle Tax Credit.

How to determine how much you qualify for:

  • If the new vehicle has a combined fuel economy that is at least 4, but less than 10, miles per gallon higher than the traded-in vehicle, the credit is $3,500. If the new vehicle has a combined fuel economy value that is at least 10 miles per gallon higher than the traded-in vehicle, the credit is $4,500.

One last fun fact about the CARS Act is that they require the dealers to scrap the trade-in! That's right, no re-selling of the trade-in; the CARS Act requires that the trade-in vehicle be crushed or shredded so that it will not be resold for use in the United States or elsewhere as an automobile.

Feel free to post any additional questions about this program in the comment section and we'll get back to you right away!

For additional information about this program, visit the following website: