By Jennifer Newman on August 21, 2009
Yes, my husband and I managed to buy a new car using the Cash for Clunkers program. I say “managed” because within 30 minutes of the news that Cash for Clunkers would end Monday night, one dealership we’d talked to earlier in the day decided to no longer honor the program.
Two out of the three dealerships we talked to Thursday night had already decided not to take any more clunkers after the program’s end was announced late that afternoon. The dealership we did end up buying from was planning on doing Cash for Clunker deals through Friday night, not Monday.
Here’s what I learned during my Cash for Clunkers deal:
Call the dealership: Make sure they’re still doing Cash for Clunkers deals and find out when they plan to stop. It could be earlier than the Monday end date.
Make sure your clunker qualifies: Just because you think it’s a clunker doesn’t mean it is. For more information on the program, see our Cash for Clunkers guide.
Get your paperwork in order: You’ll need your title, registration and proof of insurance for the past year.
Be prepared to wait: Our dealership had people walking in at 8 p.m. to trade in their clunker. Getting a car takes time, and Cash for Clunkers adds yet another layer of paperwork for the dealers. Be patient.
We traded in our 2000 Nissan Xterra, which got a combined 15 mpg, for a 2009 Nissan Versa, which gets 29 mpg combined. We received the $4,500 credit, a $1,250 incentive and negotiated the price down a little further. All told, we got a new car for less than $12,000.
Editor's Note: We've received notices from other dealers saying they are not accepting any more deals after today and erroneously reporting they need the extra time to file paperwork. The government says it will accept paperwork for all deals until noon EST Tuesday.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Newman is a certified car-seat technician. A mom of two, she owns a 2013 Subaru Outback crammed with sports gear. Email Jennifer