We'll buy your car - no matter the condition!

Everything You Need to Know About the Cash for Clunkers Program

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

Table of Contents

If you’re looking to get some cash for the old car in your life, you may be in luck. The  Cash for Clunkers program might see a revival sometime soon. This program from 2009 helped reboot the auto industry, and it kept the supply chain moving on many levels.

New versions of the program are out there, and there is speculation that another national program could be headed our way. Learn about how the old program worked, new options, and what you can do to get some good money for the junk cars in your life!

What Was the Old Cash for Clunkers Program?

Back in 2008, the recession hit everyone hard. It’s estimated that 2.6 million people lost their jobs by the end of that year.  With everything moving downhill quickly, a little government intervention had to step in.

And it did. President Obama gave his signature to a new program in July of 2009 to help stimulate the economy.

The program was called the Car Allowance Rebate System, which most people know better as Cash for Clunkers. It offered a way for people to get a rebate on cars getting under 18 miles per gallon if they traded them in. This meant that the average program participant got anywhere from $3,500 to $4,500in  vouchers to go toward a new car.

The requirements were fairly simple. Eligible trade-in cars needed to be under 25 years old and functional. 

In return, the new car had to be either purchased outright or leased for a minimum of 5 years. New purchases also needed to average at least 22 miles per gallon. And finally, new car prices also could not exceed $45,000.  

The government set aside $1 billion to get the program rolling – and it evaporated quickly! It was used up within a week, and congress had to approve another $2 billion due to high interest from the public.

How Did It Help Car Buyers and the Economy?

The result?  The program spurred new interest in car buying during a bad economic time. Americans ditched cars that guzzled gas in order to get money toward more fuel-efficient cars, like the Toyota Camry or Ford Focus.

Big ol’ vans like the Toyota Previa and SUVs like the Ford Explorer were among the top trade-ins. On average, Americans gained about 9 miles per gallon by making these trades – good for the wallet, good for the environment, and good for automakers.

The Cash for Clunkers program nudged a lot of Americans toward making car purchases that they might have postponed for a while. Data even shows that many people who opted into the program otherwise would have waited a few years. Turns out that telling people that you can get a few thousand dollars in vouchers toward a new car is a pretty good hook!

Reports suggest that the program got about 700,000 inefficient cars off the road. For an auto industry on the brink of collapse, this meant that Americans had to buy their cars. In the long summer of 2009, the program led to a 13% rise in car sales.

Why a Cash for Clunkers Revival is Needed

Back in 2008 when the recession hit, car sales tanked and the Cash for Clunkers program stepped in to help. With the 2020 economy’s decline due to the coronavirus’s devastating impact, we need another helping hand to reboot the nation.

Car sales have gone down as people have stayed home more in recent months. Big-name automakers like Toyota have reported a 32% drop in sales during March.  General Motors and Ford also have reported drooping sales while they’ve watched the airline industry get bailouts.

While most experts don’t expect that the situation will bottom out the way it did in 2009, many officials are calling for some kind of intervention—maybe similar to the Cash for Clunkers program of ten years ago.

Several government representatives are working on some proposals. Debbie Dingell represents the Detroit region in the House, and so she has a special interest in making sure the auto industry weathers this storm. She and fellow Michigan representative Fred Upton are pushing for federal money to fund a similar program.

In Europe, automakers like Volkswagen want to see a new version of the cash for clunkers program, too. Though nothing is in place right now, many parties are urging leaders to reconsider. All in all, government leaders around the world realize something needs to happen to avoid a repeat of 2009.

How a New Cash For Clunkers Program Could Look

While there is not a new version of Cash for Clunkers out there on a national scale yet, there are groups lobbying for a new version – and there are programs already in place that are similar to the original one. Across the country, junk car buyers out there willing to take your old (but drivable) vehicle off your hands and give you money!

The Get America Moving Again stimulus proposal is calling for a new version of the Cash for Clunkers 2.0 program. Just like in the 2009 program, one of the goals of this program is to diminish pollution and help the economy. The authors of this proposal also believe that adding this program will help stimulate other parts of the economy.

Other goals of a new cash for clunkers program are to help promote investments in vehicle manufacturing and electric cars. In short, a new program could help keep American manufacturing on top.

Some states already have their own versions of the old program. In some cases you can even get a voucher to put toward public transportation instead of a car if you prefer. 

That’s right, there are organizations out there ready to help you trade your used car for a better options right now. In difficult times, creative solutions make the difference!

Why a New Program Will Benefit You

Selling a car is a hassle – and many people are reluctant to do it during a recession for obvious reasons. A revamped cash for clunkers program will streamline the selling process, put money in your pocket toward a better car, and even help the environment.

With the average price of a new car in America at over $36,000, buying a new car can be hard on the wallet. With add-ons, the price can exceed $39,000. For any car buyer, a little financial assistance can help.

A cash for clunkers program not only helps the consumer, but also the supply chain that feeds into car production. If you work in the auto industry and are concerned about layoffs, a retooled version of the program could also give you peace of mind. After all, if people are getting vouchers for their old cars, they will need to buy new ones. 

And even if there’s not a formal Cash for Clunkers program in place yet in America, we’re ready to help you make the leap to a better vehicle!

How Cash Auto Salvage Can Help You 

When you’re ready to unload your car, we can do it for you.  At Cash Auto Salvage, we make it easy – no matter where you are located.  Even if there’s not a formal Cash for Clunkers program in place yet in America, we’re ready to help you make the leap to a better vehicle!

We’re actually a group of salvage yards and buyers spread all over the United States, so it’s easy to get cash for junk cars whether you’re in an urban area or the middle of nowhere. You can even read reviews of cars on our blog and estimate the value of your used car.

We’ll take any car, in any condition, and give you a free quote. If you like our offer, we’ll come to get your car free of charge. It’s really that simple!  Why wait when you can get money for a new car now.

Even though it might feel like everything is in limbo due to the coronavirus, your car doesn’t have to be. In fact, this summer (especially July and August) is the perfect time to take advantage of good deals. Many places are offering low-interest financing and better deals on cars that have been sitting for too long in dealerships.

You just need to swap out your old car first – and it’s easy to do.

The Bottom Line

We believe that it’s important to make sure that you have a clear and easy path to new car ownership. Ditch the gas guzzler!

We also believe that unusable vehicles should be recycled properly, and that owners should get the cash that they deserve for their junk cars. All of this can help kickstart the economy and keep the auto industry booming. 

Providing cash for clunkers is at the heart of our mission. We’re here to help – get an instant quote for you clunker.

Share this!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on linkedin
Share on email

About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

maximize cash offer on car

We'll buy your vehicle!

Wait! We REALLY Want Your Vehicle!

We pay up to $20,000 for cars, trucks, & SUV’s – no matter the condition. Get paid on the spot + free towing!

Or Call... 1-855-922-3095

There is no obligation to accept an offer.

Unable to verify mileage

Selecting “unable to verify” may decrease your offer and should only be selected if you cannot visually confirm the mileage of the vehicle upon inspection of the odometer.