The government’s cash-for-clunkers program appears to be reviving the moribund car market. But even with Uncle Sam providing the trade-in allowance on junky old gas guzzlers, consumers still have to shop aggressively. And the program’s complicated rules can be an obstacle.
A case in point: The list of clunkers eligible for $3,500 or $4,500 government vouchers just got changed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA reviewed its mileage ratings for about 30,000 different models, to comply with a requirement in the cash-for-clunkers legislation that miles-per-gallon ratings be accurate up to four decimal places, the EPA said in a statement Wednesday. That review coincided with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s efforts to produce a 136-page-long rulebook for the cash-for-clunkers program. The EPA review resulted in 86 models being reclassified as eligible for the scrapping program—with combined city/highway mileage of 18 miles per gallon or less—that hadn’t appeared to be eligible when consumers searched the agency’s fueleconomy.gov Web site before last weekend. But 78 models that appeared to be eligible no longer will qualify, because their new mileage ratings exceed the 18 mpg threshold, the EPA said.
Among the newly eligible vehicles: The 1989 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable wagons and the 1993 Acura Legend. Among the vehicles no longer eligible: the 1991 Toyota Camry and Camry wagon and the 1987 Lincoln Town Car.
The EPA characterized its review of the mileage calculations for more than 30,000 vehicle models as a “monthlong quality assurance and quality control effort.” Consumers who expected deals earlier this month believing that their old cars were eligible for the government’s scrapping allowances—only to discover that the new EPA figures cut them out—might not use such neutral terms.