Clunk: 'Cash for Clunkers'

'Cash for Clunkers' mostly a clunker


If you think the new "Cash for Clunkers" law is going to help you buy a new car, you're probably wrong.

As it's written, the law will benefit few car shoppers and those who might actually benefit from it probably shouldn't be buying a new car to begin with.

Here's why it won't do most people much good: The government refund vouchers for $3,500 or $4,500 are in replacement of -- not in addition to -- the ordinary trade-in value of the vehicle, which in many instances will be worth more than the voucher.

"It's not a rebate," pointed out Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of the auto Web site Edmunds.com. "It's a minimum trade-in allowance."

If your trade-in is worth more than the voucher amount, you'd be better off just trading your car in as you ordinarily would and not even bothering with the "Cash for Clunkers" program. Even if your vehicle is worth a little less than that amount -- say, $3,000 instead of $3,500 -- you will be $500 better off under "Cash for Clunkers." But it you weren't ready to buy a car before, is $500 going to make the difference?

All of this raises a bigger question, too. If you're currently driving an old fuel hog that's worth less than $4,500, there's probably a reason.

"Most likely, you have the old car because you're either frugal by choice or because of your situation," said Jeff Bartlett who writes about auto buying for Consumer Reports.

Comment: Fluff legislation

1 comment:

  1. Whoops—'Cash for Clunkers' Actually Hurt the Environment

    Shredding vehicles results in its own environmental nightmare. For each ton of metal produced by a shredding facility, roughly 500 pounds of “shredding residue” is also produced, which includes polyurethane foams, metal oxides, glass and dirt. All totaled, about 4.5 million tons of that residue is already produced on average every year. Where does it go? Right into a landfill.
    E Magazine states recycling just the plastic and metal alone from the CARS scraps would have saved 24 million barrels of oil. While some of the “Clunkers” were truly old, many of the almost 700,000 cars were still in perfectly good condition. In fact, many that qualified for the program were relatively “young,” with fuel efficiencies that rivaled newer cars.
    And though the point was to get less fuel efficient cars off the roads, with only 690,000 traded in, and over 250 million registered in the U.S., the difference in pollutant levels seems pretty negligible.
    But all that vehicular destruction did more than create unnecessary waste for the environment. It also had some far-reaching economic effects.
    According to a recent TriCities op-ed from Mike Smith of Ralph Smith Motors in Virginia, CARS created a dearth of used cars, artificially driving up prices. For those who needed an affordable car, but didn’t qualify for the program, this increase in price meant affordable transportation was well out of reach. It also meant used-car dealers, most of whom are independently owned, small-business owners, had little to no stock. According to Smith, 122 Virginia dealers chose not to renew their licenses after that year.


Any anonymous comments with links will be rejected. Please do not comment off-topic