Cash for Clunkers

Cash for Clunkers: A Look in the Rearview Mirror

The Cash for Clunkers program effectively ended at 8 p.m. EDT on Monday, August 24, 2009. The economic stimulus program was originally set to run for about three months or until the $1 billion was gone, but greater than expected participation rates and a $2 billion Congress-approved fill-up turned it into a one-month program that distributed nearly $3 billion.

The questions being asked after the program are similar to those heard during its debated formation. Did taxpayers simply subsidize 700,000 new-car purchases or did the program’s widely publicized popularity increase consumer confidence and create an economic ripple effect? Was there a measurable benefit to the environment in replacing those gas-guzzling old cars with more fuel-efficient new ones? Was the program worth it?

There's no shortage of opinions on such matters, but there are even more variables and unknowns that make it difficult to accurately gauge the wider impacts of the program. The only sure long-term winners? Those who cashed in low-value clunkers for $3,500 and $4,500 new-car credits.

Want to find out if your car would have qualified for the program, or see some of the program standouts? Explore the links below.

10 Most Popular Clunkers, Replacements and More 10 Most Fun Clunker Replacements List of Qualifying Clunkers List of Qualifying New Cars
What it was
The government-sponsored Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) – more commonly known as Cash for Clunkers – was an economic stimulus program that ran between July and August 2009. Owners of drivable, registered vehicles less than 25 years old and rated at 18 mpg or less (EPA combined) were able to scrap those cars and trucks in exchange for $3,500 or $4,500 credits toward the purchase of more fuel-efficient new vehicles. Additional Program Details
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