Cash for Clunkers has become a smashing success—but is it right for you? Time explains how to get the most out of your clunker:
- First, make sure your vehicle really is a “clunker”: Cars that get more than 18 mpg, don't run, haven't been registered and insured over the last year, or are more than 25 years old don’t qualify.
- Fuel economy determines how much of a rebate you’ll get. If the difference between your old and new car’s gas mileage is less than 10 mpg, you only get $3,500, not $4,500—though for SUVs, you’ll get the full credit with a 5 mpg difference.
- Look for other incentives that can be combined with your rebate. Depressed sales have manufacturers offering a lot of incentives. Ford, for example, will tack on $1,500 plus another $500 for financing through Ford Motor Credit.
- Be prepared to wait for your vehicle of choice. Hybrid popularity has depleted Toyota dealerships’ stock of the 2010 Prius, while factory closures mean lower inventories of other popular models.