Cash For Clunkers in Seattle

Category: News. Written by Grant 

Cash for clunker carAfter the recent announcement that the Cash for Clunkers program was active again, we at Seattle Auto have been fielding lots of emails from visitors wondering if their car was eligible. To be honest, even we were unsure of how the program worked, so we did a little research and here’s what we found out.

Cash For Clunkers, also known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (or CARS for short), is a government program sponsored by the NHTSA that gives cash credit for trading in your old gas guzzler for a new, fuel efficient vehicle. According to the official website, here are the major points to the program:

  • Cars for Clunkers program runs until November 1st, 2009 – or until funds run out
  • Car must to be less than 25 years old
  • Cars must average 18MPG or less (exceptions exist for very large vehicles)
  • Car must be owned, registered and insured for 12 months in owner’s name before trade in. Must provide Proof of Insurance and Registration to dealership
  • Car must have a clear title, without any liens or encumbrances.
  • Car must be in drivable condition
  • Cars traded-in must be scrapped, meaning the car will be turned into scrap metal (worth a few hundred at most)
  • Depending on trade-in, a $3,500 or $4,500 credit is applied toward purchase of new vehicle
  • Cannot participate in CARS program more than once

The program has these requirements to prevent explicit abuse of the Cash For Clunkers program. Otherwise, owners could simply drive to the junkyard in Renton or Everett, buy a junk pickup truck for a hundred dollars and tow it to the dealership for a essentially a free rebate.

Having a scrapping requirement is also interesting, as it limits newer cars from participating in the program due to the immediate trade in loss. This means that the owner of a 2003 Toyota Corolla would not be inclined to participate in Cars for Clunkers as their vehicle still has a $7000 trade in value. By participating in the program, they would only receive a $3,500 to $4,500 credit plus scrap value toward the purchase of a new car.

How Much Cash Credit Do I Get for my Trade In?

If your vehicle qualifies for the Cash For Clunkers program, dealerships that participate are required to offer you an instant credit/rebate toward the purchase of a new, fuel efficient vehicle. The rebate differs depending on the type of vehicle you are purchasing and the difference in fuel economy between your trade-in and newer vehicle.

Trading in old passenger car for new passenger car:
Fuel economy improvement from 4 to 10 MPG: $3,500 credit
Fuel economy improvement over 10 MPG: $4,500 credit

Trading in old passenger car for new truck:
Fuel economy improvement from 2 to 5 MPG: $3,500 credit
Fuel economy improvement over 5 MPG: $4,500 credit

Trading in old truck to new truck:
Fuel economy improvement from 1 to 2 MPG: $3,500 credit
Fuel economy improvement over 2 MPG: $4,500 credit

While Seattle is primarily a city of passenger vehicles, the Cash for Clunkers program is a huge (some would say ridiculous) incentive for owners of old trucks or SUVs. The short of it is that if your car has a trade-in value less than $4,500, the program is an incredibly incentive to purchase a new car.

How does the Cash For Clunkers Trade Process Work with the Dealership

Though many sources mention that a voucher is required to participate, that is not true. You need no paperwork and during the trade in, the dealer handles all of the paperwork between them and the NHTSA. Provided that your trade in meets the qualifications for the Cash for Clunkers program, the $3,500 or $4,500 credit is immediately applied toward your new car.

There have been some reports coming out about dealerships (though none we’ve heard about in Seattle) telling customers that they will receive a rebate check from the NHTSA directly, the trade in needs to be held until cleared, or that there are fees or contracts to participate in the program. All of these practices are against the terms of the program and the NHTSA even asks that you report dealerships who tell you this. To repeat, the program takes no filing of paper work on the consumer side – only proof of meeting the requirements of the trade in.

However, some dealerships are wary of the Cash for Clunkers program because of the potential financial risk. It takes ten days after submitting the paperwork to the NHTSA for the dealership to know whether or not they will be credited for the trade-in. In the event they are not credited, the dealer will be out of $3,500 or $4,500 credit. This puts the onus on the dealer to correctly inspect and file the paperwork.

Most dealerships, especially those in the Seattle area, that we have talked to, are thrilled about the program – and rightly so. The Cash for Clunkers program may well be a financial stimulus program for the auto industry and a much needed rescue for domestic automakers like GM.

So, if you were thinking about trading in your old vehicle, seriously consider the Cash for Clunkers program, as it may be the best financial incentive in history to trade up for a new car. The program ran out of money within the first two weeks when it first rolled around earlier this year, so even though the program expires on the first of November, there is a good chance the program will be out of cash far before then.

Do you dread high pressure salesmen? Are you being scammed by the financing manager? Consumers all say that buying a car is worse than a visit to the dentist. Don’t have a bad experience – contact us at today to get you in touch with our professional auto broker who will treat you with the utmost care. Sign the papers in your own living room and have the car delivered to your door at dealer prices!

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3 Responses to “Cash For Clunkers in Seattle”

  1. tehuti on October 10th, 2011 10:15 am

    hello i have a very old model camper that i am looking to trade for cash how soon will you be able to come and git it?

  2. a on June 18th, 2014 4:33 pm

    Hello there! I know this is kind of off topic but I
    was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for
    my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m
    having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

  3. Pete Rothenbacher on November 17th, 2014 10:36 am

    I like the quote “Cars must average 18MPG or less”. Was that when they were new, or what the car is getting now?

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