This article is over 13 years old


No More Cash for Clunkers?

When Congress spent billions of dollars bailing out the automobile industry, there weren’t a lot of people rushing to dealerships to buy new cars. But ever since Congress offered more than four-thousand dollars for old clunkers, business has been great…so great the program ran out of money. Bill Stamps reports on the future of the “Cash for Clunkers” program.


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

According to Kelly Blue Book, a 1999 Ford Expedition with 130-thousand miles on it will get you less than two thousand  dollars if you trade it in. So it’s no wonder people are going crazy over the Cash for Clunkers program, where you can get up to four thousand-five hundred dollars for that same truck.

“This is the one stimulus program that has worked—out of everything else that’s come across.”

Debbie Roberts works for Allen Samuel’s Chevrolet in Houston. She says when word got out that the program was running out of money, their lot was flooded with potential buyers.

“All the tables were filled, we had lots of people out on the lot. Each of us handling three and for deals at a time.”

The program worked so well that the one billion dollars Congress authorized to fund it was nearly gone in less than a week. So the program was put on hold until they decide whether or not to add more money to the pot.

Commercial on TV: “Double cash for your car”

In the meantime, some dealers are still running ads or posting signs on their property. But that has left some people wondering what to do: Should they pick out a car and wait, or are they simply out of luck? Steven Prather is the sales manager for Ford in southwest Houston.

“As of today, we are on hold until we hear back from the National Highway Traffic Association and find out what we’re doing. They’ve got the two billion dollars to go through the senate right now that’s waiting to get passed and we’re on hold. Whenever a customer comes in we’re just trying to get all their information together so when we do get our final word from the government we can from there.”

The program appears to be a win-win for both dealers and consumers. Wyatt Wainright of the Houston Automobile Dealers Association says people are buying cars they otherwise may not have and dealers are making money they might not have.

“A lot of people have bought a new car or they didn’t qualify for the program, they investigated whether they qualified or not, found out they didn’t and since they had already taken that first step towards buying, they’ve gone ahead and moved into the new car. So I think its really got the system kind of moving right now.”

In order to qualify the car must get very low gas mileage. The goal of the program is to replace them with newer vehicles that use less fuel. Many old trucks and SUVs probably won’t have a problem qualifying since they are known as gas guzzlers. One salesman said foreign cars like Toyota Camrys or Honda Accords probably won’t qualify. Bill Stamps, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required