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False Start: Cash for Clunkers Postponed to Monday

CARSlogo The government updated their website this morning by changing the start date for the CAR Allowance Rebate System (informally known as Cash for Clunkers.) Before the website update, the program was to begin on July 24th. The homepage now claims the program will start on July 27, or Monday.

From the website:

Starting on July 27, consumers will be able to take advantage of this program and receive a $3,500 or $4,500 discount from the car dealer when they trade in their old vehicle and purchase or lease a new one.

Many news outlets, including ABC News, are claiming the program begins today.

No reason for the delay was given. 

However, car dealers across the country have reported that the 'Cash for Clunkers' computer system has crashed. From WTAE Pittsburg:

At 5 a.m. MT Friday, automobile dealers across the country began the certification process for the Cash For Clunkers program, KMGH-TV in Denver reported.

When dealers call in to inquire about the computer system, an audio recording says, 

"We're sorry, the system is down right now. We are aware of the problem.
 You will not be able to register until the problem is fixed."

On Thursday night, government officials in charge of the program said they were ready
for a crush of interest and that steps had been taken to avoid any computer glitches or

"We have all the technology in place, and we'll hope for the best,"
 said Ellen Martin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation.

We highly recommend car shoppers call their local dealers and ask if they are accepting trade-ins despite the confusion.


The best way to buy a car is use the power of the market to your advantage. In other words, let dealers complete. Since your 'clunker credit' is applied after all other deals you make -- your savings could be huge.

  1. Gather information: If you do not know your credit score — and you plan to finance a new car — it is essential you obtain your credit report. Get your free credit report and score.
  2. Get your trade-in value: If you are going to trade a vehicle in, it’s highly recommended you get an independent valuation. Get your free trade-in value for your current car. Only participate in the cash for clunkers program if your trade-in car value is less than $4,500.
  3. Get competitive pricing (No-Obligation): Obtain online car pricing points from at least two dealerships – use the free service to get competing prices from multiple dealers.
    • You will get an email with your car prices.
    • Reply to the dealer(s) with the higher prices, and kindly tell them another dealer beat their price.
    • The dealers with the higher prices will respond with a better deal — and often with a much lower price. Tip: If you do decide to proceed with the car buying–before you enter the dealership–verify by email or phone that the price quoted is the ‘out-the-door-price.’ These magic words should give you the price you will pay after all fees, taxes, incentives and credits are applied.
  4. Financing: You should apply for a loan before you enter the dealership. It is best to use your own bank if you have a decent relationship with them. You can also apply online via a car loan broker: If you have a credit score above 620, apply for a loan here. If you have a credit score below a 620, you should apply here.
  5. Independent Quotes: It is essential you obtain independent quotes on the following services. Too often the dealership charges too much for services you can obtain on your own. In other words, you do not have to sign-up for these services in the dealership. (Optional).