Editor’s Note: This program is back on again and should be available through Labor Day, 2009
All good things must come to an end, and in some cases, prematurely. The “Cash for Clunkers” Program, or more formally, the Car Allowance Rebate System, has allocated almost all of its budget to rebates after only four days. The law called for the program to last until November 1 or until the funds are depleted, which ever condition occurs sooner, but I do not think there were many people who expected the funds to run out this quickly.
Consider yourself lucky if you were able to qualify for the program before it was suspended.
Car dealerships apparently saw active business this past weekend, and if all the funds were used up then the program was somewhat successful. While on the surface, Cash for Clunkers appeared to be a program designed to help consumers or to help the environment, but the real goal was to help dealers sell cars. It resulted in some short-term success despite setbacks due to the EPA’s recalculation of mpg, but we will have to wait for the car companies to report their finances to judge the success.
It’s also a possibility that Cash for Clunkers will come back. If the Congress decides the program is worth spending more money, we could see another Cash for Clunkers. And if we do, it might even improved to apply to more cars.
Update: While the Transportation Department called dealerships to tell them to stop accepting applications for Cash for Clunkers, the White House informed the public overnight that the program would continue. The House and Senate are now racing to re-authorize the program for another $2 billion.
Updated December 21, 2017 and originally published July 30, 2009.