Cash for Clunkers - two questions

JamieAugust 3, 2009

1. What is a "model year". My car is called a 2002 model, but the mfgr date on the inside of the door (which the Cash for Clunkers website refers you to) says 2001. I believe I am eligible based on Edmunds book value and also on a Ford link that said so, but I'm not sure.

2. My SUV doesn't have 100,000k miles on it yet and it is in good condition so far, even though small dings on the body bring the value down. The odometer reads 95k and I was figuring it could easily last another 30k or more, which would give me at least another 3 years. Plus, this is the first truck/suv I have ever had, and I really love being able to haul things. I think that feature alone saves me money. I used to have to pay to have things delivered to me.

I don't usually trade in my cars, so I am not familiar with what I could actually get as a trade in value without the cash for clunkers program. (Edmunds says about $4000, but doesn't so much depend upon whether it's the end of the quarter and how good a bargainer you are?) Plus, I am not picky about color, newness, etc, so I always get whatever low-mileage vehicle is the best deal on the lot at the time I am buying. Last time I bought a car (2004) I had just begun to have back problems, and the seat was a huge, huge concern. I suspect that will be the case next time, too, and this SUV seat lets me drive for a couple of hours without pain. (The seat has to be good; a lumbar support pillow does not cut it.)

So let's say I'll have to buy a car in three years. Would I be wise to take advantage of this deal now?

My car is a "2002" Olds Bravada. Maybe it will be a collecters item soon because they don't make 'em any more?

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If you're perfectly happy buying a USED vehicle, then there is no reason to change that attitude now just because of the federal gimmick currently in effect. As O.J. ( Joyful, NOT the other OJ...) would probably tell you, the "bang for your buck" is still in letting someone ELSE take the depreciation hit.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 10:55AM
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Yeah, I agree with Dave. I can't help but think dealers aren't motivated to sell at the best price now because the Federal program is doing most of the work, although the dealers are saying that they are matching the $$, like most everything else, this may just mean they're marking up the original price so it may look like you're getting a "double bang", so to speak. LOL Car dealers know the art of win-win can be summed up in one sentence: "Ask for 'way more than you'd ever expect to get, and then let yourself be negotiated down." The dealer gets the price he actually expected in the first place, and the consumer walks away happy, thinking he was a master of negotiation.

Considering that the new car depreciates greatly the minute you drive it out of the lot, if you normally buy used and you normally wouldn't be ready to buy another vehicle for three more years, I can't see that this program would be the best for you. There are hidden costs associated with a new car: higher insurance, higher tags and taxes, for two. You didn't mention how many MPG you get in your current car. That could make a difference and you probably need to do some figuring to see if it does. If your MPG's are low on your current car and you do a lot of driving now, then that alone might be a consideration. I don't think we've seen the end of astronomically high gas prices. I don't have a clunker to trade in, but if I did, I think I'd be thinking about what's possible to happen down the road. I normally buy my vehicle new or nearly new (usually I get a "program car") and keep it at least ten years. We turned over our sassy little red 94 chevy pick-up to our grandson and it's still dependable and seems to be quite a "chick-magnet" with DGS behind the wheel.

What I'm thinking, down the road, is that the automakers are going to discover (if they haven't already) that there is a market for a vehicle that gets extremely high MPG. Once all the vehicles that they made under the "old" assumptions of what consumers want are sold in this program, creation of innovative vehicles will once again create a booming market. Think ahead to future months: If dealers sell most of the cars they had on their lots under the CARS program, what are they going to do, stock up with more of the same cars they couldn't sell before the program? Without the CARS program, and with everyone who might want to upgrade having already done so, where's their market?

If I were you, I'd wait and watch. Lots can happen in three years. You might be really happy with your new vehicle that uses alternative fuels more efficiently than we have ever seen, in three years.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 1:52PM
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You want to refer to the model year of your car. Cars have traditionally been manufactured late in the previous year and then given the next years model designation.

If you have done the preventative maintenance, then your Olds will likely go 200K miles or more. We took an '88 Olds Delta 88 past 200K miles (15 or so years). Parts like the alternator, water pump, or A/C may fail, but all can be replaced much cheaper than what it costs to buy a new car.

Most important, this car is comfortable to you and that is actually not easy to find, especially in smaller cars that get higher gas mileage.

My experience is that the lowest cost per mile traveled with a "decent" car will come from buying a lightly used, late model American nameplate (high depreciation) and then taking care of it and keeping it until the "wheels fall off."

If slightly higher reliability is desired, then buying a new Japanese brand car and keeping it forever is also not a bad option.

Third would be buying a used car under $1k that is a hidden gem and repair only what is necessary for safety. Drive it until the engine or tranny go out. Some people get 100K miles with this strategy and at a very low cost per mile.

Unfortunately, your 02 Bravada or our 01 Silhouette are not likely to be sought after by collectors.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 6:35PM
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Good only on purchase or lease of NEW vechicles.
Clunker has to be less than 25 years old.
You may get the info you need by checking different sites.
Clunkers wiil have the engine made unusable. No future use.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 7:03PM
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Check out buying a good used rental car. The rental agents sell off their cars when they have 25-30 thousand miles. The cars are well maintained. We bought an almost new Impala with less then 35 thousand miles for a really good price. It is comfortable, fuel efficient and is in perfect condition. We love it.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 1:23AM
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Used rental cars don't qualify... good or otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:29AM
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