Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

Usually, if there is some kind of special rebate program, we generally fall a day late or dollar short, or just shy of qualifying. Kind of a Murphy's law thing. But this time (maybe) the planets were aligned properly, or the Rebate Gods smiled upon us.
I'm talking about the Cash for Clunkers program. It's a government deal, trying to get old gas guzzlers off the road, giving you a nice chunk of change off the price of a vehicle. Ahhh yes, there are a bunch of qualifying requirements.
You can go to the Cars Website to read all about it.

On the website on the far right there is a tab to click to then input your vehicle info.
It will generate the number of combined mileage (city & hwy) the EPA rates your vehicle. Regardless of what actual mileage you get or no matter how much of a clunker your vehicle really is.
It must meet the magic number of 18 or less to qualify.
Must have proof of being fully insured for a year prior.
Must have proof of registration for 1 year.
You must be able to drive the vehicle to the lot.

Which is strange, because the dealer is ***required*** to drain the oil & put silicone in the engine, which will cause it to seize & destroy the engine. The point of this program is to get gas guzzlers off the road.
Even crazier is within the same year & model of vehicle different engine sizes & features will disqualify or qualify you.
Some folks will be off by just 1 mile of the government mileage rating.

On the flip side-- you have to pick a vehicle that will get at least 5 mpg better to get $3,500 off the price
but if you get one that is 10 mpg or better, you get $4,500 of the price.

Last year they just radically changed how the mpg is calculated ( more like how people actually drive)-- so even the most tightwad sippers like the Honda FIT or the Toyota Corolla are currently rated as combined mileage of 28.
Lots of cars like the Ford Focus fall short of the 28 or better.

If I actually qualify for some crazy good promo, I want the max---
#1 We are not wealthy people & the only reason we are doing this is because my 15 year old vehicle was not on the same page as we were, with waiting a few more years till Hybrids or electric cars are affordable & available.

But alas.... she became an inferno.
The A/C quit because of some vacuum vent. They no longer make the part- so it would have cost us $600 to pay for labor ro take out the dashboard to replace this part w a part from the junkyard. No warranty on how long junkyard parts might last...
and then the windshield wiper sheered off while on the freeway in a downpour.

Driving the van in 95+ temps on the freeway, I seemed to repeatedly hit traffic at a standstill. Had to keep the windows open to breathe but breathing fumes in a sweltering oven box. I thought I was gonna die. Then I would arrive home cranky & take a good 15 minutes to cool down & become human again.

We've had this baby for 15 years. In her heyday she was a gem, although she sucked gas @18 mpg.... she could haul people & stuff like crazy. Back then our 2 kids were young & we needed & used that much space. Plus 15 years ago 18 mpg was decent mileage for the size of vehicle it was. (BTW the 2009 same version of the Caravan minivan gets *17*mpg -- in 15 years time, they went backwards instead of making progress w fuel efficiency).

That was then now ~ we are empty nesters.
Mostly I am in the vehicle myself, or with the Husband & occasionally all 3 of us w one of my sons.
So I don't need a 7 passenger vehicle. But other things were starting to fall apart too- I won't bore you with the details.
Bottom line it did not make sense to throw any more $ into it & the $4,500 money off a new vehicle was worth way more than the blue book value.... and it was devaluing by the day.

So we actually jumped through the flaming hoops-- and did a little negotiating, as well as scooped up a 0% financing.
So we are just paying for the vehicle- no interest.

We got the best damned deal we could find,

It was a little tricky finding a compact "sipper" car, for 2 not-very-compact people. The husband is 6'6" & I'm 6 feet tall & "large boned". In any case I wanted the simple practical vehicle that will not suck gas.

After many weekends of test drives, number crunching, searing hot temps, annoying car dealers, ultra annoying car dealers that caused us to bail out of buying from them.... hey! We are not high end purchasers,,,, but a new car is a big ticket item & customers are customers. They deserve to be treated well. For the record, telling me *I* have to pay $100 for them to restock a car they just sold off the lot (not a special order). No.

I hate the whole dealing/dealers/ numbers back & forth games thing. You feel like you are negotiating with the Wizard of Oz.... some unseen poobah in a back room saying yay or nay to different numbers.
It sucks royale. There must be car dealers & dealerships in hell.

Plus we went from main wage earner being unemployed to being called back to work to buying a new car.
You can bet we spent some sleepless nights wondering if this was the right thing to do.

Decent used cars were pricing out pretty high too.... so we just went for it.

We drove that baby off the lot yesterday.... a Toytota Matrix- which is really a Corolla with a wagon style body.
You can fold the seats down flat to make the back all cargo space, or it is a 4 passenger vehicle.

Woo Hoo!

We still have to wait for the dealer get it submitted to the Cash for Clunkers program.
They have X amount of dollars for the program & the program ends when the cash runs out or November.
The dealers would like us to think this program might just last a few days-- because knocking that much off an invoice is a rare event.
If it went so fast we missed the boat because we did the deal 1 day after the program opened....
then the deal would be unwound & we bring back the car. We will know in the next 2 weeks. Crazy Huh?

Anyway we were @ the front of the line for the program & hope it all comes together.... or we may just wind up w a used car???
To be continued.

Here is a stock photo picture, of our maybe new car.... we actually got that color.

I hope I have not bored you to death with Car Talk.
Maybe you or someone you know has a qualifying Clunker & together we can save the planet.
Just wear your fireproof panties, there are flaming hoops to jump through!


D.K. Raed said...

woooo-eeeee, that is one cool-looking ride! Put on the shades and head down the coastal highway! I am getting new car lust just viewing it, especially the mileage. Can you see my tongue hanging out from here? Put me and a dog in the back seat and roll down the windows for that coastal ride!

I am definitely passing this on to one of my sisters who is driving an old '93 astro with same repair probs you had. Not worth repairing but would hardly get anything trying to sell or trade it in. She might even like this matrix car. Her hub is 6'6" and "large-boned" and she is no skinny long-legged model herself (well she is long-legged but that runs in the family).

Fran said...

Let's just hope the rest of the deal glides on through.
They are saying a 10 day processing... but they are going to be swamped. It will be interesting to see if the hype the dealers were presenting is actually true.

Will this program billed as running through Nov 1 or until the $$$ is gone, is actually gone in just a few days.

It sure felt like hype.

That calls for a spin on the coast......

Dada said...

Fran: Congratulations! Just came from the Toyota website after viewing this beauty. I've always been a fan of smaller cars (probably because of economics first and foremost). They're more enjoyable to drive, fill up time at the gas pump is always better than a larger car and then there's the excitement of passing a semi and staring eye level into it's wheel well.

And, yes, dealing with car salesmen (who always strike me as sleezy and very friendly) and their Wizard, often unseen, but sometimes drops by and he and his lackey cohort play good cop, bad cop for us. No matter how "great" a bargain I drive, I always come away feeling my pocket's been picked.

But all that aside, I'm envisioning your new blue beauty parked in front of the white of Haceta Head's lighthouse above the complimentary expansive deep blue of the Pacific. Ahhh, WTG!

(Oh, and BTW, went to the CARS website to see what kind of allowance they would grant me on our '95 MX-6: $0.00 - it's rated at 20 mpg. Oh well, we really don't need a second car, it was just fun to dream for a couple of minutes.)

nonnie9999 said...

that link doesn't work. here's the correct url:

my car is almost paid off, and i would consider getting a new one under this program, but, alas, my car doesn't qualify. ironic, as the reason i would trade it in is that it gets shitty gas mileage. oh well, i guess i'll keep it.

Fran said...

Dada~ Your summary yielded a good laugh from us....
both the wheel well & pocket picked. Between you & DK waxing poetic about being on the coast....
I feel obliged to take a jaunt there soon.
The fact that the temps in the Valley are 100+ helps to inspire that the cooler coast would be just lovely.

Also really should take a pic of "Blue" @ Hecita Head Lighthouse.

How frustrating to be 1 mile difference short of qualifying... Damn.
There were 6 different engine types of my old vehicle in that year model.... 3 qualify 3 don't.
It was random & pure luck mine did.

But the dealer, we learned today has to wait for some number from the guvment to be able to submit deals....
so they did NOT send them in today like they said they would.

For right now.... I'm just letting it go to the Zen of cars. I have an air conditioned car in 100 degree weather in the here & now. Hallelujah! & a happy dance.

If the other financing falls through.... then it was a sweet loaner.

If it sticks than it was meant to be.

Do I dread the thought of having to come back to the table & starting all over again?

You betcha.

So I'm just thinking good thoughts, and hoping for the best.

As if car buying were not weird enough, this takes it to a whole 'nuther dimension.

But it is such a difference, driving the easy handling Matrix, as the old Caravan sat on a truck frame, they handle so differently.
And I look forward to less time @ the pump, and paying less @ the pump.
That will be a nice treat as gas prices keep creeping up & up.
For now I am mostly lovin' the functioning air conditioning.

Hey Nonnie-- Owning a car outright & not having to make payments is indeed a wonderful position to be in. Yes it is.
What kind of mileage are you getting?

nonnie9999 said...

i only get around 18 or 19 mpg in the city. howevah, i don't really drive a lot these days. i bought the car in 2005 and it had 21,000 miles on it. it only has something like 45 or 46,000 now, and a few thousand of those were from when my son borrowed the car every day for months before he bought a new one. i still have about a year of payments left. i'll probably lose the itch for a new car when i'm not making payments anymore.

Fran said...

Ahh! Thanks for the heads up on the need to fix the link. Got er done.

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel on this baby. I felt like I was getting away with something once the old vehicle was paid in full.

Free at last!

But there is a Zen to cars..... and it is a fine art to know what to get rid of one.
We liked that not making payment plan SOOO much, we decided we'd drive the thing till it fell apart.

So Mission accomplished, I guess.


Health care & housing are a much bigger crisis...
but I happened to fall into this car problem issue & this thing emerged at the same time.

It may take the better part of a month to know it;s even for real or a done deal.

Still I averted death in a 110 degree car.... so there is already a silver lining.


Dada said...

Fran: With the forecast high for Eugene today at 102, I envision you spending all day in the car, goin' nowhere (0 mpg), just chillin' (35 dpg [degrees per gallon]). And remember, do not play your CD's too loud, lest you attract your sweating (oops, sorry, "perspiring") neighbors and they all be beating a path to your four doors to be as cool as you!)

Fran said...

Correction: But there is a Zen to cars..... and it is a fine art to know WHEN to get rid of one.

Dada: Funny you should mention that- I found myself
adding on chores yesterday that caused me to log more time in the air conditioned car.
Ohh what a relief it is.

You sunbelt folks probably consider us to be wimps.
Official heat warnings just because we are just over 100 degrees. Ha! We can't handle the heat like you folks can.

How DID we get through those wretched hot summers w no A/C as kids???

Dada said...

Yes, I remember Mrs. Dada and I wearing like a badge the pride we took in driving a car with no A/C up until about my 40th year (to include the 70's, early 80's here in El Paso!) I sometimes think now we were proclaiming to the world we were idiots!

Interestingly, your weather has me recalling our last time in Oregon the summer of '06. July 22nd in Sutherlin where I believe the high that day was ca. 106. The next night in Springfield, where our niece and nephew and their very young daughter abandoned their home in favor of our refrigerated A/C'ed hotel room where we sat around shivering and lovin' it, just across from (then) Spencer's, (now) *Hop Valley*).

Even the desert wines we were transporting as gifts for friends and family were blowing their corks. So, nay, speak not to me of your heat wimpiness for we desert rats, too, were made wimpy one July in Eugene.

Fran said...

Well, you had your own personal sauna days, probably trying to be environmentally responsible.
I did see some folks driving around w windows open when it was 106 & 105 degrees. I assume their air conditioning is broken-- although some seemed happy. But I saw a lady behind me wiping sweat from her brow (that was me just last week!!!) & she looked like she'd take A/C in a heartbeat if it were available.
It has been oppressively hot..... and it takes forever for it to cool off @ night.
I've resorted to taking a cool shower before bed.

Now I can envision everyone crammed into a hotel room savoring the A/C relief!

I don;t know how we survived it as kids??

D.K. Raed said...

I hear what you're saying ... growing up in the furnace of vegas, I honestly don't remember ever feeling too hot. Even when it was over 115, we used to climb up on the hot roof and sunbathe! (can you say mel-a-noma?) ... the ONLY times I remember ever feeling uncomfortable was when we visited relatives/friends who had SWAMP coolers (I couldn't take the humid dampness).

But I don't know if we were oblivious just because we were kids, or if it's more a case of when you don't know any different, you can't even imagine anything different.

Fran said...

Wow! Just hear on the news tonight they have suspended the Clunkers program as of today because of overwhelming response and system issues.
Both dealers & the government are concerned about making more deals because the funds are running low.

Damn! Maybe the dealer hype about how quickly this money would go is for real.

For now I'm just glad to have A/C in this wretched heat wave. It cooled down to 90 something today.
Woo Hoo!!!

Dada said...

Fran: OK, from the latest readings on the CFC program, it looks like you're going to get to keep your AC!?

Fran said...

I'll believe it went I see it. It IS the Guvment after all you know. Their web site is quoting Willie Nelson, saying the program is *On the Road Again*.
The program may well be, but is MY deal?

They initially said 10 days- if that is business days, that would put us at the 11th, because the dealer had some CARS Certification number snafu till the following Tuesday.

Whatever.... have to go the Zen mode for now....
if it is meant to be it will happen.