EPA Changes MPG Ratings Last-Minute For Cash For Clunkers

In my post Does My Car Qualify For Cash for Clunkers?, one of the major requirements was that the car must have a combined fuel economy of 18 mpg or less, according to FuelEconomy.gov. Many people have been complaining that their old car gets nowhere near the mileage that the website says they do, but at least there was a definitive source.

But wait. Due to some government wackiness, last week the EPA changed the ratings on nearly a hundred models of cars so that they no longer qualify. For example, some versions of the 1988 Toyota 4Runner SUV now have combined MPG ratings of over 19. The buzz about Cash for Clunkers has been going on for months, so people have been getting ready to trade-in their old vehicles. In fact, the bill runs retroactive to July 1st, so many are already driving their new vehicles!

From this CNN Money article:

Even though the program’s basic requirements have been known since it was created by Congress earlier this year, Cash for Clunkers didn’t become official until Friday. So as part of the official launch, the EPA conducted “quality assurance and quality control effort regarding fuel economy calculations on more than 30,000 vehicle model types spanning the past 25 years,” according to an e-mail sent by EPA spokesman Dale Kemery.

As a result, 86 car models became newly eligible for the program. However, 78 models became ineligible, EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourne said in a statement released Tuesday night.

In other words, if you were close before, check your mileage numbers again. Your car may now qualify even though you didn’t before, or it may no longer qualify at all.

Comments

  1. Cash for Clunkers is a terrible program. It’s going to take useful cars off the market, damage the used parts market (because the so-called clunkers will be destroyed) and make it even harder for low-income folks to find transportation.

    All those cart parts destroyed will make it hard for low-income people to fix their cars and it will hurt the small businesses that rely on used parts.

    It’s pork for new car producers and it sucks.

  2. Clean Simple, are you surprised?

    Just more from the government that wants to control what kind of lightbulbs you use, what kind of cars you drive, what kind of house you have, etc.

    And yet ironically, this program punishes those of us who bought fuel efficient cars in the first place, and rewards those who drive huge SUVs. Furthermore, you’re absolutely right that it’s pure pork for the car producers (doesn’t it make sense? doesn’t the government have a duty to support its car companies?)–if they really wanted to be green and care for the environment they wouldn’t destroy the old cars, and would allow people to buy used cars with the credit.

  3. Not Clean or Simple says:

    As a response to the first poster, only the engine will be destroyed. The parts can be and probably will be sold in the used parts market. I really had to post this as I am really tired seeing people making uninformed assumptions and then have other people like the second poster use that information to follow up. Low income people will probably not take advantage of this offer, since the cost of a new car is prohibitive for them, even though I have personal knowledge of kias’ and hyundais’ selling for about 6000-7000 using the program. However that might be too much for some people so they will just not take advantage of it and keep their so called clunkers. Where is the harm on this? How in the name of reason is the government controlling what you buy and what you do with your life? I for once, am extremely happy that they are removing a lot of cars from the market and making it easier on the environment. And I am also glad that they are not letting anyone buy used cars that probably have their own issues already. I could say more but I am just going to leave it at that.

  4. Not Clean or Simple says:

    Also, how does it punish people who bought fuel efficient cars in the first place? Please enjoy your fuel efficient car and be happy that the government is trying to get rid of older polluting cars off the roads and it will allow other people to drive fuel efficient cars as well.

    Seriously, what did you want? To get old fuel efficient cars of the market and keep the old polluting suvs so you can buy a new car that doesnt make better mileage than the one you are driving now? Seriously Kuzbad, please answer this question and let me know your opinion.

  5. joelkton says:

    I think the program may actually cost buyers money. It’s really not a very frugal thing to do. It was always possible to walk into a dealer and pretty much demand $4500 or more, often a lot more, off the MSRP. I wonder if they would negotiate like that now that they can say they’re giving you the discount for your “clunker”? On top of that, you were always better off selling your car privately and not using it as a trade-in. Now, you may have lost the value of your old car, and the ability to negotiate on the MSRP.

  6. ChrisMR says:

    the suggestion is to go in and make a deal, get it in writing, then add the clunker. if you tell them up front you are certainly getting hosed.

    i would also argue that a % of increase in MPG should determine your payment – so if you have a car that gets 25 now and want to go up to 45+, you should be able to participate. it would boost demand for the high end technologies, which brings down cost over time and spurs more innovation.

    oh, and if you dont like gov’t telling you what lights to buy or giving you your taxes back to buy a car, head to china where they tell you what websites you can look at. at times it takes some gov’t push to move innovation, ie space program. you dont want gov’t in your home, better not sign up for medicare either.

  7. Not Clean or Simple Says:

    Also, how does it punish people who bought fuel efficient cars in the first place?

    Do you really believe in a free lunch (barring of course those free lunches gained via tips from blogs such as this one! 😉 )? Exactly whose money do you think is paying for these rebates? Hint, look around and in a mirror! This is just another redistribution of wealth program (like homebuyer subsidies, etc)

    Please enjoy your fuel efficient car and be happy that the government is trying to get rid of older polluting cars off the roads and it will allow other people to drive fuel efficient cars as well.

    Great, so people go from an 18 mpg suv to a 22mpg suv. If they were serious about this being a “green” initiative there would have been emissions AND real mileage standards rather than a tradeup for primarily truck/SUV drivers who can buy _slightly_ more efficient SUVs, etc.

    And I am also glad that they are not letting anyone buy used cars that probably have their own issues already

    This is one of the more shocking statements I’ve seen show up in a frugal money blog! To paraphrase one radio personality, people are complaining about being underwater on their mortgages as a national emergecny–well anybody who has EVER bought a car with finance is pretty much underwater from the second you sign the paperwork. Do you know how much a car depreciates in just one year (or heck, even one month) — I’ll let you look it up and get back to me. [and just for full disclosure, I purchased my last car new and financed it]

    Seriously, what did you want?

    Why, I’m glad you asked! I wanted the government to not subsidize ANYBODY’S car purchasing.

    I think I’ve answered all the questions you asked of me–please ask again if you didn’t understand any of my answers.

    And to ChrisMR:

    oh, and if you dont like gov’t telling you what lights to buy or giving you your taxes back to buy a car, head to china where they tell you what websites you can look at. at times it takes some gov’t push to move innovation, ie space program

    So let me get this straight…your defense of recent government policies is that “well, we’re not as bad as China [yet].” You’ll forgive me if I’m not particularly convinced by your argument! And comparing the space program to a trade-in program for SUV owners? Come on, the level of intellectual mendacity in some of the comments is really surprising to me…

  8. I should add that for “Not Clean or Simple” and “ChrisMR” and others — I get that you’re true believers in the redistribution of wealth and expanded government role that I’m not personally comfortable with. That’s fine — small government versus big government conflict goes back a long way, and honestly this blog comments are not the place (I guess I shouldn’t have initially opened my yap!)

    What is somewhat surprising to me, and at the same time makes me think there’s hope yet for those who believe in small government and big freedom, is the number of people who seem surprised and upset at programs such as this.

  9. Add me to the list of people that think government has no place subsidizing vehicle purchases.

  10. To make matters worse, even though the cars originally qualified and consumers are driving their new cars, the government is now refusing to pay dealers the subsidy so that people are being asked to come up with the money or return the cars.

  11. ChrisMR says:

    I’m not comparing buying cars to the space program, I’m saying that at times it is the role of gov’t to help force along new technologies, even when people are not sure they are ready for them. People are individual actors out for their own good. I believe that 350,000,000 individuals looking out for their own good does not necessarily result in what is best for the most.
    I am hit and miss on the clunkers program, overall, I feel it should have focused more on people buying more fuel efficient vehicles. Just buying more big gas eaters digs us a littler further into the hole.
    As for China, I am saying your choice of lightbulbs isnt exactly sensorship, so get over it. Its a poor example of gov’t control, esp when much of western Europe and Australia are headed the same way. I suppose the next thing you will argue is that speed limits hurt personal freedom and we should all be allowed to drive as fast as we feel comfortable.
    Freedom doesnt mean you can do what you want, it means you have the ability to participate in the discussion that sets the rules.

  12. Can’t they just provide the list of vehicles that are eligible in one spot, so I don’t have to go through the website and then average the highway and city mileage? It’s a pain in the neck and a waste of time.

    And I take it you can’t buy a used car with the rebate, so well, what’s the difference. The depreciation on the 1st year of any cars’ life is so far over $4500, it’s kind of ridiculous to use that as an incentive anyway. By the way, I don’t think this program is for foreign cars at all — am I wrong? I think it’s only for American cars.

  13. As a “CAR GUY” and technician, and can (hald hartedly) go along with the “cash for clunkers”. On one hand, giving a fair value for you “clunker” towards a newer vehicle is a good idea. BUT……it shouldn’t be based on MPG alone. Any car that is 7 old or older should be eligable. everyone knows that a new corolla is more fuel effecient that one that is 5 years old.

    So, my 1990 Dodge Caravan with the 3.3L V-6 gets roughly 24MPG on highway and about 20 in the city, does it not qualify? And why should the vehicle must be drivable if the engine is to be destroyed anyway.

    I hate the thought of many “GOOD” engines are to be rendered useless ( and will be destroyed) when there are folks out there that can’t afford a brand new car and have a “CLUNKER” that could use a little TLC to get the better MPG the government wants.

    DON’T CRUSH THEM…..RESTORE THEM!!!

  14. OK……..did a little more reading and it appears that my van DOES NOT apply, but my 88′ Dakota does. Hmmmm

  15. It doesn’t matter if they dole more money. They problem is still the backlog. Read this article: The Real Reason for the “Cash for Clunkers” Suspension. The ex car salesman blog shares exactly why they stopped the program. Even reports that some sales managers are calling asking for the money back because they were denied the rebate when the final paperwork was submitted but their car was already ruined by dumping a solution in the engine. They now have no car. Scary. See: http://tinyurl.com/ml9sdo

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