Some Clunker Deals Based on Old EPA Numbers Will Be Honored, DOT Rules

By Michelle Krebs July 30, 2009

The U.S. Department of Transportation has ruled that deals involving Cash for Clunkers trade- CARS logo - 220.JPG ins based on old mileage numbers and consummated before July 24 will be honored, but deals consummated after July 24 on vehicles that became ineligible as clunkers due to mileage ratings changes will not be honored.

On the eve of launching the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, administered by the DOT, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated the critical combined fuel economy numbers that is a key determinant in whether a vehicle is a clunker or not. As a result, about 100 models changed status -- about half went from qualified to disqualified as clunkers; the other half became eligible as clunkers.

DOT spokesman Rae Tyson told Edmunds' Thursday that transactions involving clunkers that went from qualified to disqualified will be honored by the government if they were consummated before the July 24 program launch date. Transactions on vehicles that became ineligible as clunkers and consummated after July 24 will not be honored.

Vehicles that previously were not eligible as clunkers but became eligible with the EPA changes will be honored if the transactions were consummated after July 24. brought the glitch to the government's and public's attention after visitors to the car-shopping Web site and its various forums and message boards raised it. Some consumers reported to Edmunds that their vehicles qualified as a clunker on Thursday, but when they double-checked or were at the dealership, they discovered they no longer were eligible.

DOT spokesman Rae Tyson said he did not know how many transactions were involved. -- By Michelle Krebs

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poderman says: 11:01 AM, 07.30.09

Super! Thanks AutoObserver!

Now I have to figure out the logistics off this. I was all set to close my deal without the clunker tomorrow, but I guess that is on hold right now until I figure things out.

ahoblitz says: 11:14 AM, 07.30.09

The EPA really dropped the ball in this process by not communicating to the public or even the NHTSA initially that it was doing this "quality control".

The NHTSA ruling is fair, but I think a lot of people resent being left in limbo for so long over the matter.

Kudos to Edmunds for breaking the story and following it through to a (delayed) response!

poderman says: 11:24 AM, 07.30.09

Super! Thanks AutoObserver!

Now I have to figure out the logistics off this. I was all set to close my deal without the clunker tomorrow, but I guess that is on hold right now until I figure things out.

xnewman1 says: 12:06 PM, 07.30.09

I've heard of one of the Kia dealers in CT saying they already put about 125 Cash for Clunkers deals on the road. I wonder how many of those are going to have this problem? They picked a heck of a time to change the EPA ratings.

big_d_ca says: 4:14 PM, 07.30.09

Thank you Edmunds for forcing DOT to face their error. I believe it is unfair to those owners who were refreshed to 19 mpg. The Clunkers bill certainly had the right name.

tysongamblin says: 6:54 PM, 07.30.09

This is just one giant mess! Poorly planned and executed!

bbob5 says: 7:55 AM, 07.31.09

Does anyone have any inside info that might suggest that there is any hope for us who were refreshed to 19? Or should I just go out & buy the car I need anyway? You thoughts please!

poderman says: 8:05 AM, 07.31.09

There is still no information available, from either the CARS website or the CARS representatives you can phone, on how to proceed if you are one of the people who had a contract for qualifying car that was changed to not qualifying on July 24.

Since the CARS people only seem to give any answers when pressed by Edmunds Auto Observer, could you press them on this issue? We need to know how to proceed before over the weekend while the program is still open.

Thank you.

packeteer says: 5:35 PM, 08.01.09

There are other strange quirks to this program, My 9 MPG "class 3" pickup only qualifies for $3500 if I buy another low mileage class 3, expensive gas guzzling truck. I wanted to trade down for a smaller high milage pickup. The dealer called the program for verification and a voucher number but apprently the "Cars" agent was not familiar with the "classifications" of the larger vehicles so it was another one of those "on again - off again" messes. I ran screaming from the less than attractive deal. It makes more sense to keep my gas hog than getting into bed with the feds on a "maybe we will - oops maybe not" deal.
only time and Edmunds will tell how poorly this "government program" plays out.

BTW; my personal recommendation is Run Screaming from this deal as I did!!!

craig65 says: 6:36 PM, 08.04.09

I made a deal on 7/15.My 87 lincoln towncar qualified 18 mpg.then I saw it change on the 7/24 to 19!Called the dealer they said wait an see,because they did not here anythig yet. 7/31 I get a phone telling me it was rejected! Faxed them acopy of your article! Thank you! The goverments right hand does not know what the left hand is doing!But I still expecting another call from the dealer!I know my clunker is in clunker heaven.Curious to see what they'll do!if it is rejected again.Dealers are criminals too!

tonyhid says: 10:26 AM, 08.06.09

I have a 99 Chev Suburban 4wd. It meets the requirements, but not on the CARS List. I received a reply from and they say they have reported it to the EPA. They say there are "thousands" of cars not on the list and it could take a day or longer to update database? If it took 45 minutes waiting on hold, I cannot see how they would have time to update. Where does it say on the website that your car must be on the list to qualify? Spent hours at the dealer and only found out when he was ready to run a comparison.


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