Clunkers are More Than Skin Deep

Some nice cars qualify, nasty ones may not

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Cars traded in as part of the federal 'Cash For Clunkers' program are parked at the Galpin Ford dealership on July 31, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Shares of Ford Motor Co. rose Friday as investors expressed enthusiasm for the increased vehicle demand under the 'Cash for Clunkers' program which Congress is rushing to expand. Federal lawmakers are seeking an additional $2 billion to keep the popular program going after the initial $1 billion in funding ran out after a week. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

    Car owners considering the government’s new Cash For Clunkers sales stimulus are facing confusion over what qualifies as a clunker.

    Dealers say some cars that appear to be clunkers on the outside fail the government test.

    “They might get 22 miles to the gallon and they won’t qualify,” said Trey Russell, general sales manager at Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford in Carrollton.
     
    On the other hand, the sales manager said good-looking cars have passed the test.

    What Exactly is a Clunker?

    [DFW] What Exactly is a Clunker?
    sales stimulus program are facing confusion over what qualifies as a clunker.

    “They’re disguised, bad gas mileage vehicles that need to be taken off the road,” Russell said.
     
    Buyers must own their vehicle and it must have been insured for the past year. Russell said a vehicle that gets better than 18 miles per gallon will not qualify and it must not be more than 25 years old.
     
    The Carrollton dealership reports a spike in business with the clunker program, but also some customers lost over confusion about the rules.
     
    Truck buyer Clifton Ford was convinced his 1993 Ford F-150 would qualify for government cash.

    “Save a few dollars on gas, have a better looking truck, and help the automotive industry at the same time,” Ford said. “I want to get in while it’s still offered.”

    But his vehicle did not qualify. 
     
    Despite opposition in congress, The Dallas New Car Dealers Association is banking on final approval of an extension for the program this week by the US Senate.
     
    “Cars manufactured 2000 and earlier, represent about 80 percent of the ambient air pollution produced by automobiles,” said Association Director Drew Campbell. “So it’s a real plus for the environment to get those older cars off the road.”
     
    Dealers are also contending with government red tape in getting paid for the clunkers they now have piling up on lots. Five Star Ford in Carrollton had 75 on Wednesday afternoon.
     
    Participating dealers must make clunker engines unusable before the vehicles leave for a scrap yard, but some other parts may be recycled.

    “They want to make sure that these vehicles are not put back on the road,” Russell said.
     
    A government website provides details about what vehicles can be included: www.cars.gov.