Cash for Clunkers, Game Over?

By Neetal Parekh on July 31, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With nearly $1 billion worth of cash being handed out for hundreds of thousands of gas-guzzling "clunker" cars, the government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program has been such a success that it is looking to refuel.  The funds that were scheduled to last until November are sputtering on empty...just days after the Cash for Clunkers program officially kicked off on Monday.

If you were thinking of doing your clunker trade-in this weekend, President Obama and the White House crew give you a green light to go ahead.  However, beyond that, they are looking to Congress to infuse the program with another $2 billion in funding.  To complicate things a bit, Congress will be out on summer recess after today, though Senate will stay in session through the end of next week. 

The CARS plan aimed to support the trade-in of 250,000 old fuel-efficiency-challenged cars for new cars with 22 miles per gallon or better.  40,000 deals had already been processed since the unofficial launch of the program on July 1st, with 200,000 in line for approval after Monday. 

The enormous success of the program has been overwhelming--especially for the computer system developed for handling the Cash for Clunkers deals.  The program requires that dealers not only complete the trade but also destroy the engine before filing for the government rebate.  And federal officials have noted that many of the new 200,000 applications seem to be incomplete and may need additional information before they qualify for the government return.


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