My 1997 Ford Ranger Qualifies For The Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash For Clunkers)

There is nothing wrong with my 1997 Ford Ranger except that it’s getting up there in age (kind of like me). Since it’s my only vehicle I am always concerned about total failure or some expensive repairs that could be more than the value of my truck. I’m very interested in what the government’s CAR Allowance Rebate System (formally known as Cash for Clunkers) could do.

Cars.gov has the requirements for the program:

  • Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date
  • Only purchase or lease of new vehicles qualify
  • Generally, trade-in vehicles must get 18 or less MPG (some very large pick-up trucks and cargo vans have different requirements)
  • Trade-in vehicles must be registered and insured continuously for the full year preceding the trade-in
  • You don’t need a voucher, dealers will apply a credit at purchase
  • Program runs through Nov 1, 2009 or when the funds are exhausted, whichever comes first.
  • The program requires the scrapping of your eligible trade-in vehicle, and that the dealer disclose to you an estimate of the scrap value of your trade-in. The scrap value, however minimal, will be in addition to the rebate, and not in place of the rebate.

According to the fueleconomy.gov website, my 1997 Ford Ranger qualifies for the gas efficiently requirements because they say it gets an combined gas miles of 16 MPG.

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I was surprised to see that the EPA says my truck gets such low gas milage. I can get at least 18 MPG in town and 22 MPG on the freeway. I was also surprised when I compared my 1997 model with a 2009 Ford Ranger that the 2009 model gets 1 MPG less.

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If I were to replace my vehicle under the CARS program, I wouldn’t replace it with a super fuel efficient vehicle. I would need to replace it with another truck (yes I do actually use my truck as a truck and utility vehicle). This doesn’t help me very much because nearly every new truck gets nearly the same gas mileage as mine. I compared my truck to a variety of similar trucks. I could find two that met the mileage requirements and only one actually qualified.

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The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 15 Hybrid 4 wheel drive qualifies on the gas miles requirements as it gets 20 MPG. But for some reason it is a Category 2 or Category 3 truck and I cannot trade in my truck for own of those. I don’t know what they category requirements are but seems kind of silly on the surface.

The second possibility is the 2009 Toyota Tacoma 4 wheel drive. It barely gets 2 MPG more than my current truck netting me $3500 in rebate. Is it really worth it for me to trade in my perfectly good working truck for a new one?

Kelly Blue Book says it’s worth about $3000 in trade in value. CARS is not saving me much on the trade in. A new Toyota pickup will be about $26,000 leaving me for about $23,000. That runs just under $400 a month depending on financing.

I just don’t think it’s worth it to trade in a perfectly good pickup that may or may not have problems in the immediate future for a $400 a month payment.

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