A lot of people are confused about the government’s new Cash for Clunkers plan… including my grandpa, who is otherwise a really smart guy.
He’s one of those guys, though, who tends to hear only what interests him, so I wasn’t too surprised when he came over (he doesn’t like the phone) and said, “So I was listening to Fox News, and they said I could get $4,500 for an old clunker. How do I do that?”
“Well,” I said, “there’s a lot more to it than that… not every clunker qualifies, and for the ones that do, you have to put the $4,500 towards a brand-new car that gets much better fuel economy. You don’t just get $4,500.”
He was cool with that, so I told him I’d find out if his cars qualify. Here’s what he has:
A 1985 Honda Accord that runs fine but has about 200,000 miles on it, and a 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado that is the true definition of “clunker.” It doesn’t run, and I’m pretty sure it hasn’t since 1973.
His Accord meets the first qualification: The car can’t be any earlier than a 1985 model. Close call. The second qualification is the killer, though – that Accord is rated at 24 miles per gallon, even though his actual car returns numbers that aren’t even close to that. Strike one.
The Olds? Well… it’s too old. It’s easily the kind of car that should be taken off the planet, but I guess it’s too much of a clunker to be considered a clunker by the government.
So, gramps doesn’t get the $4,500 on either car. He’s not going to sell them for anywhere near that price, either, so I made another recommendation: Donate them and take the tax deduction.
Car donation programs are everywhere. Most will come pick up your car and let you write off whatever they sell it for. My local program cooperates with the IRS by offering a $500 minimum deduction, even if they just part the car out. Seems to me like a much better way to put some extra cash in the pocketbook come April 15 while helping out worthy causes along the way.
Cash for Clunkers is a joke… car donation is the way to go.
Have you ever donated a car? Would you consider it?