5 On Your Side

EPA makes changes to ‘clunkers’ program

Posted July 30, 2009 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2009 6:23 p.m. EDT

The Environmental Protection Agency announced changes on Thursday to the “cash for clunkers” program, which was designed to help revive the struggling auto industry and get people into more fuel efficient cars.

The program – officially called the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS – took effect over the weekend at the nearly 20,000 car dealers who have signed up with the Department of Transportation. The program offers rebates of $3,500 to $4,500 for car shoppers who scrap their old vehicles to buy ones with better gas mileage.

A review of fuel-economy data caused the EPA to change the list of vehicles eligible for the the program.

The EPA said Thursday that 78 vehicles originally on the list to qualify as trade-ins under the program have been removed. Eighty-six vehicle models have been added to the list.

Officials said the change is due to a review of the fuel economy of 30,000 vehicles over 25 years, as required by the “cash for clunkers” legislation. The review was completed last week and caused the mileage data to change upward or downward due to rounding.

Here are the program's rules: The trade-in vehicle must be a 1984 model or newer and must get 18 mpg or less in the government's combined highway/city ratings.

Buyers can get $3,500 toward a new car if it gets at least 4 mpg more than the old one. That rises to $4,500 if the new vehicle gets at least 10 mpg more.

For SUVs, pickup trucks or minivans, owners can get a $3,500 rebate if the new vehicle gets at least 2 mpg more than the old vehicle, $4,500 if it gets at least 5 mpg more.

Under the program, the traded-in gas guzzler cannot be resold by the dealer and put back on the road. It must be junked.

So far 16,000 people have taken advantage of the rebate by trading in their old, gas-guzzling cars.

The program ends on Nov. 1, or earlier if the money runs out.