Delaware motorists in the market for a new car and local car dealers have just a few days left to cash in on the federal government’s “Cash for Clunkers” or CARS program. The federal government announced today that the program will expire on Aug. 24, at 8 p.m. Click the link above for AAA's top ten "Cash for Clunkers" tips.


Delaware motorists in the market for a new car and local car dealers have just a few days left to cash in on the federal government’s “Cash for Clunkers” or CARS program.

The federal government announced today that the program will expire on Aug. 24, at 8 p.m. While many drivers are enticed by incentives offered by the government and auto dealers, AAA advises drivers to learn about the program before heading out to dealerships.

This week, AAA Auto Buying sent an email to AAA members in Delaware about  Cash for Clunkers program.  By clicking a link in the email, buyers are directly connected with a certified dealer to see if their car qualifies for the program.  See AAA’s web site on Cash for Clunkers.

In Delaware, auto dealers are seeking reimbursements of about $1.5 million, according to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics.  As of Aug. 13, auto dealers across the country have submitted 338,659 transactions totaling $1.4 billion under the "Cash for Clunkers" program. The industry sold cars and light trucks at an annual pace of 11.2 million units in July, the highest level in 10 months, according to sales tracker Autodata Corp.

Top 10 AAA “Cash for Clunkers” Tips

1. Check value of trade-in vehicle in advance. If the value is greater than the $3500 or $4500 credit offered through the CARS program, motorists should sell their existing vehicle separately. Drivers can visit AAA.com/auto for assistance in determining the value of their existing vehicle.  

2. Make sure the vehicle qualifies.  A vehicle that does not run, hasn't been insured for a year and hasn't been owned by the seller for a year, does not qualify for the rebate program. Program rules can be found on cars.gov. Additionally, old mileage estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are not valid. Vehicles' new mpg rating can be found on FuelEconomy.gov - updated by the EPA last month.

3. Evaluate the total cost of vehicle ownership. Consumers should determine if a new vehicle is affordable and what type of new vehicle to purchase based on the total cost of vehicle ownership—not just the purchase price. Other costs that should be considered include finance charges, insurance rates, fuel economy, taxes and registration fees, depreciation value and maintenance costs.

4. Select the right vehicle for you. Only select new vehicle models are eligible for the CARS program. While a wide variety of vehicle types are included, consumers should not feel pressured into purchasing a vehicle that does not fit their needs and lifestyle. As with any vehicle purchase, consumers should evaluate their lifestyle, needs and priorities to select the vehicle that is right for them. No matter what their needs, AAA recommends consumers consider fuel-efficiency a high priority.

5.  Combine with other incentives. The rebate can be combined with other sales incentives, like federal tax programs concerning hybrid vehicles.

6.  Negotiate the best deal. Regardless of the incentives offered under this, or any other program, consumers should always negotiate the best possible deal on the three most important aspects of most vehicle purchase transactions: 1) Credit value for the trade-in; 2) Price of the new vehicle; and 3) Terms of any credit needed to purchase the vehicle

7. Do not sign contingency agreements. Consumers should not sign contingency agreements to pay back the dealer should their CARS credit be rejected. It is the dealer’s responsibility to make sure the purchase qualifies for the program.

8. Take possession of new vehicle at time of transaction. If the dealer has the new vehicle in stock, consumers must be allowed to take possession of the vehicle at the time of the paperwork is complete. Consumers do not have to wait to take possession of their new vehicle until the dealers receive their CARS credit from the federal government.

9. Don’t pay an extra fee. Consumers should not be charged a fee by dealers specifically to process paperwork for the CARS program. While other dealers fees will still apply, there should be no additional fees for this program.

10. Consider used vehicles. While used vehicles do not qualify for the CARS program, depending on a consumer’s financial situation, it may be a better alternative. While new vehicles can initially have lower repair costs due to manufacturer warranties, they also have far greater depreciation value initially. Consumers should weigh all their options before making a decision.
 
“Consumer knowledge is key to getting the best deal,” said Catherine L. Rossi, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. 

“Anyone who wants to take advantage of this program should do a personal financial check before handing over their clunker. Make sure a deal is in your own financial best interest.”