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Cash for Clunkers hopes to get buyers into new wheels

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For months, cars have sat idle on lots throughout the country, but dealers are hoping the new Cash for Clunkers bill could be the jump start the auto industry needs to get them moving again.

“Sales people are going to be enthused about it,” said Gary Younts, president of Ocean City Chevrolet. “If the customer has an old piece that they don’t feel like is worth a whole lot of money anyway, they’re automatically going to get $3,500 for it, and that’s big to them.”

To qualify for the rebate your clunker must get 18 miles per gallon or less, it must be less than 25 years old, you have to have owned and insured the vehicle for at least a year, and it must be driveable.

If the new car gets at least 4 miles per gallon more than the trade in you get $3,500 back. If the new car gets 10 miles per gallon or more you get $4,500. Add dealer incentives and it could drive car sales up.

“It’s still $3,500 dollars to them, in addition to $2,000 to $5,000 dollar rebates on other vehicles, so that’s big,” Younts said.

Customers say it’s a good deal for drivers already in the market for a new car, but they don’t think the incentives will be enough to get people to trade in reliable vehicles. “If you would need a new car, yes, but if you wouldn’t need a new car, the way the economy is, I don’t think it would be worth it,” said car shopper Joe Imdorf.

For dealers, Cash for Clunkers has meant plenty of homework. They must sort through more than 130 pages of requirements and procedures to get reimbursed for the rebate. If the don’t follow the rules, they could lose out on the cash back and be subject to hefty fines.

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videoOut with the old car, and in with the new. That is the idea behind the government’s Cash for Clunkers program, which got on the road Monday. Uncle Sam has put aside a billion dollars to get your gas guzzler off the streets; you just have to spend your share on a new set of wheels.

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Associated poll

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