Ask Me About 'Cash For Clunkers'

Ask Me About ‘Cash For Clunkers’

As I write this article, the government is debating whether to add another $2 billion to the Cash for Clunkers program which may buy you some time to become knowledgeable about it. With all the media attention it has received, I think it is safe to say everyone has heard about it, but there are many questions to be answered.

I don’t expect you to read the government’s 135-page publication detailing the program rules, but you need to be able to combat the “sales job” of the new car dealer.

While the program is designed to stimulate the sale of new, more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles (that is relative to the trade-in vehicle), it should also stimulate some conversation around your shop with your current customers. The thought of receiving $4,500 sounds pretty enticing to the driver of an older vehicle. But do they have all the facts?

Think about the decision process your customer should go through in trying to determine whether it is better to shell out $20,000 or take on a new monthly payment of a few hundred dollars, or fix up the “clunker.” And who is the best person to discuss these alternatives, the new car dealer salesman or the service shop owner?

This is a conversation you want to have with your customers. In fact, this is your chance to learn about all the vehicles in this family, not just the clunker. This is your chance to help your customer make a very important financial decision. In fact, put a sign on your counter that says, “Ask Me About Cash for Clunkers.”

Whether it is called Cash for Clunkers, Cash for Guzzlers or CARS (Cash Allowance Rebate System), become the expert and help your customers decide if its in their best interest to cash in.

Here are a few facts to get you started:

  • Not every new car dealer has registered and is eligible to provide the discount.
  • The trade-in vehicle must be less than 25 years old and be in drivable condition.
  • The combined city/highway fuel economy rating for the trade-in vehicle can be found at and must be 18 mpg or less.
  • If the new vehicle has a combined fuel economy that is at least 4 mpg to 9 mpg higher than the trade-in vehicle, the credit is $3,500. If the new vehicle has a combined fuel economy value that is at least 10 miles per gallon higher than the trade-in vehicle, the credit is $4,500.

The Cash for Clunkers program may have ended by the time you read this, but hopefully the conversation about maintenance and repair is still alive in your shop.

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