Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Cash for clunkers

I have a 98 Jeep Cherokee which I believe qualifies for the cash for clunkers program. It has 126,000 miles on it and my mechanics say I should be able to get another 100,000 out of it but I wonder at what cost. I’ve put about $1500 into it this year, it broke down on the NJ Tpke bringing my daughter home from college, and once again the check engine light is on. A vapor leak I’m told. Although I love my truck, I’m at the point when I’m wondering if it’s going to keep needing more repairs, and the $4500 is alot more than the book value. I hate the thought that it would be destroyed but . . . I normally don’t buy brand new cars but that is part of the deal. I was thinking of a Jetta diesel wagon or a hybrid. I’ll be taking my daughter back to college soon, and although my garage assures me the vapor leak won’t cause me to break down, I’m a little concerned. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

The $4,500 CfC taxpayer endorsed “rebate” is for a NEW CAR – something that will take a huge hit as soon as you drive it off the lot. I have yet to buy a new car and probably never will. If it was me, I’d sell the Jeep for whatever I could get for it (giving the buyer full disclosure). Then, I buy a 3 - 5 year-old, one owner vehicle with all service records. I’d pay an independent shop to do a pre-purchase inspection. I’d save much more than the $4,500 and my per-mile cost over the life of the vehicle would be significantly less.


You really need to read the fine print. The “cash for clunkers” program is still in flux. Just today the government reclassified more than 160 vehicles. Some that didn’t qualify now do, some that did qualify now don’t.

Check for details about the cash for clunkers program. Don’t believe any of the .com websites that have sprung up around this program.

If you’re absolutely SURE that your Jeep qualifies, then maybe this is the time. However, Jetta Diesel wagons and hybrids are in high demand. Don’t expect to get any special deals. You’ll pay dearly for such a vehicle.

Used vehicles are still better deals, financially. You’ll probably lose more than $4,500 in first year depreciation on a new car.

Question: Why doesn’t your garage FIX the vapor leak rather than assure you it won’t cause a breakdown? I’d be concerned about this, too. Where is the vapor leak, anyway?

Enlighten me, do you get trade in value plus $4500? or $4500 only?

Since these vehicles must be scrapped, they have little if any trade-in value…

I’m not sure you must buy a NEW vehicle.

I think waterboy is speaking in reference to the Chrysler extra 4500.00 “add on”. I guess it could be considered a “trade in” credit if “trade in” is loosely defined.

The dealer will only give you more (trade in) if they choose to, they are not obligated to do so. At our local dealership most vehicles that are being traded in do not qualify for this bail out. Vehicles that qualified yesterday do not qualify today and those that did yesterday do not today. Now dealers are needing to back out of deals because the gov is changing the rules after the fact and they are looking like the bad guys.

This dealer states that the cars/bailout money cannot run out fast enough.

The reason dealers may not give any extra money is the cars that are given up will be sent to a salvage yard (with the engine being seized up intentionally) and the dealer cannot keep them for their used car inventory. The salvage yard can sell parts off the car except the engine and drivetrain then the car will be smashed. Also the car being traded in must be in legal driving condition.

The garage would fix the vapor leak but first they must run a smoke test to find it. I’m was thinking that now I’m putting yet more money into my truck and then what if the stupid check engine light comes on yet again. This has been the pattern this past year. I went to a local car dealer to ask about the cash for clunkers program and you do have to buy a new car and in order to get the full $4500 it has to get 10 miles per gallon more than your car or else you get $3500. I also heard of someone who was going for it, made her deal and when she sat down to sign the papers the dealer had added $1500 on and was trying to bulls–t her about the reason for the added fee. She walked out without signing.

OK, I have to ask, what changed? I went to web site, but I don’t see any announcement of any change. It still says what it said several days ago when I was checking to see if my wife’s car was eligible (it wasn’t).

Update: Well, I just did some web searching and found that the change was in EPA fuel mileage estimates for some cars. So, the program and its rules did not change, just the qualifying yardstick. Unfortunately, my wife’s car’s combined estimate did not change and it’s still 1 MPG too good to qualify. Sigh.

Never mind . . .

NEWS FLASH=============== I just read a news blurb that said the fed might pull the plug on the CARS program. It said the money might be used up to quickly. WHAAAAAAA?

Not like we can’t borrow more against ourselves from the future

Great question from waterboy and great answer from Caddyman. I fail to see the sense behind destoying engines that “must be in good driving condition” when they are brought in. What a friggin’ waste. It is as shameful as the Army pushing perfectly good helicopters into the ocean at the end of the Vietnam police action. Cash for clunkers-another dumb govt program. Was this program thought up by first graders? Sounds like it. If we really want to stop wasting oil, store owners could begin by using only paper bags instead of plastic. Since trees are a renewable resource and oil is not (so we are told by the always right govt people) why don’t stores only use paper bags? Paper comes from trees. Plastic comes from dead dinosaurs. As far as I can recall, unless something has changed since I was a kid, dinosaurs aren’t a renewable resource. CFC is a stupid ass idea. One thing the govt forgets to warn people about is that although you get $4500 for your “clunker” (how pedestrian is that?) you still have to make the monthly note to the banks. Seems like the govt, no matter who is in power, is always beholden to the banks. It almost looks like the banks hold the govt’s leash. Hmmm.

One of my late uncles used to tell us stories about boat owners who, at the end of the season, would line up and throw their outboard motors off the dock and then collect the insurance to get a new motor for next season. I’m not certain that this really happened, and I am certain that it would be illegal to defraud an insurance company this way.

The cash for clunkers, however, lets one dump an old car and get more than it is worth legally. Somehow,it seems just as wasteful as throwing the outboard motors off the dock.

“One thing the govt forgets to warn people about is that although you get $4500 for your “clunker” you still have to make the monthly note to the banks”

That is only true for those who make the mistake of financing the purchase of a car.
My method is to pay cash, maintain the car flawlessly so it runs with little or no need for repairs, save my money, and then in anywhere from 6-10 years, I purchase the next car for good old American cash. You would be amazed how much money you can save over the years by not paying finance charges or leasing fees.

Unless you wanna wait for the all to leave and you back a trailer up to collect the dumped motors. Fix them up and resell them.

its not that easy. i know a guy who took a pieced-out riding lawnmower from the yard, and the yard called him the next day saying they want it back. he swapped out the engine on it for a junked one, and then gave it back. they called him back the next day. they knew he switched motors.

theyre going to notice a 350 chev missing.

I was talking about the dumped outboard motors in the lakes, not the c4c vehicle motors

doh! my bad.

10-4 Good advice, my brother has a Jeep Cherokee and I’m amazed at the trouble free reliable miles that old straight six is churning out-Kevin