Cash for Junkers Program 2021-2022. Sell Your Clunker for Top Dollar

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Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

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In 2009, the Federal Government under the Obama administration instituted a Cash For Clunkers program with the goals of (1) getting old cars that got poor gas mileage off the road and (2) incentivizing people to sell a car to the state and hopefully use that money to buy a new car — both lowering the carbon footprint of automobiles and stimulating the automobile industry, which had seen a large downturn due to the 2008 recession. 

With the Covid-19 pandemic, the automobile industry has taken a hit — both in production as well as sales due in part to stay-at-home orders. In response to this, the Federal Government proposes creating cash for clunker program with the same goals as in 2009.

So, what options does that leave you? Good question. You do have options to retire a car. This issue is that you have quite a few options, which can make the process of getting cash for clunkers a confusing one, and there’s absolutely no guarantee you’ll get the most money possible for it. This article will tell you what your options are, which is easiest and most financially sound, and you’ll have a lot of your questions answered, leaving you with the knowledge to make the most informed choice.

How to sell my clunker

As we said, you have options.

    1. Sell my clunker at auction. However, the issue with this is that the usual in-person auctions aren’t being held very often with stay-at-home orders. You could sell it at auction online, like on eBay, but that brings another level of hassle to the process of arranging for payment, shipping, etc. 
    2. You could find dealerships offering cash for clunkers. This may seem like a good option, but remember that dealerships are both a business and well versed in the art of haggling. A used car dealership will always have its bottom line as its first priority, which means that they’ll do everything in their power to point out flaws with your clunker car. The more flaws they find on your car, the less money you’ll find in your pocket.
    3. You can part your car out to a dealer. You’ll run into the same issues here as the ones above. Namely, they are always out for their best interest, and they know what they’re talking about. It’s difficult for even the most experienced negotiator to know enough about their junk car to negotiate a fair price with a dealership. It’s likely they would buy it for as cheap as possible, then just sell it to a recycling plant, in effect, flipping your junk car for money — when you can do that for yourself and make more money. 
    4. You can sell your car privately. This is always an option, of course. You have to keep in mind that everyone looking to buy your car is looking to buy it at as cheap of a price as possible. Not your best option to receive cash for junkers.



So what IS the best way to trade cash for a clunker?

1. You could use the new government car buyback program. 

One potential issue with this new version of the government vehicle buyback program is the same as what happened in 2009: the money will eventually run out. In 2009, the program was started in July, and by the time November came around, the 3 billion dollars allocated to the program had run dry. It is likely a new program will see a similar fate.

Another issue is that if you use this government car trade in program, it doesn’t give you entire freedom to spend the money on a new car of your choice. The program has numerous criteria that need to be met in order to qualify. Namely, the vehicle needed to:

  • have a combined gas mileage of less than 18MPG
  • be registered and insured for the year prior to trading it in
  • be in drivable condition
  • be less than 25 years old at the time of trade in

Those are only a short list of the criteria that needed to be met. The other issue is that just because your car was eligible didn’t necessarily mean you got to use that money for the new car of your choice! Wait, what? Yup. The process wasn’t exactly as easy as having the government buy your car. The actual rebate was given to the dealership, which was then passed onto you as long as you bought a car that met the new car requirements. Those requirements included:

  • Needing to purchase or take out a 5-year lease on a new vehicle
  • That new vehicle needed to cost no more than $45,000
  • That new vehicle needed to have a combined average of 22MPG 

So it’s fair to say that this program — as good intentioned as it is — comes with many drawbacks. There has to be a more convenient and hassle-free way to junk your car, right? Of course there is! 

2. You can use JunkCarsUS to get cash in your pocket on the same day. 

Unlike the cash for old cars government program, there is no middle man (such as a car dealership looking for their piece of the pie) and no application process. Our process involves giving us a call, getting your top dollar instant offer, and getting free towing. Our highest price guarantee means you’ll get the most bang for your buck, and, as always, we pay cash on the spot. No haggling, no meeting requirements, and no hidden fees. 

Problems With The Cash For Clunker Program

Aside from the complications mentioned above, one of the main goals of the original cash for clunkers program was to have a positive environmental impact with the implementation of new cars with better fuel economy. It also aimed to stimulate the economy during the 2008 recession. So, did it achieve that? Not really. Let’s take a look at why:

Environmental impact

One of the main driving forces behind the reasoning for Cash for Clunkers was to help the United States transition to more green energy, thus helping the environment. On the surface, this is a good idea, and it makes sense. But one of the criteria for the cash for junk cars program was that the vehicle needed to be effectively destroyed so that whoever ended up with the junk car couldn’t scrap it for further profit. 

This destruction was achieved by using a sodium silicate solution in place of the engine’s usual oil supply. When heated, the sodium silicate solution, now circulating through the engine, turns into a glass-like solution and seizes the engine, ensuring it won’t ever run again. 

Aside from the obvious waste of perfectly good engine parts that could have been repurposed, the use of this sodium silicate solution to seize the engine caused the radiator to rupture, releasing hot water and steam into the air. Hot water and steam aren’t terrible for the environment, but sometimes toxic fumes were also emitted. Sometimes motor oil was forcefully ejected from the engine. Sometimes the engine even caught fire, releasing more noxious gases into the atmosphere. Needless to say, their intention to get green cars onto the road caused not-so-green effects during the destruction of these vehicles.

 An analysis done in 2009 by the U.S. News & World Report showed the effect on air quality and fuel consumption were “miniscule” compared to the overall numbers in the rest of the country. 

Economic stimulation

 Again, one of the main goals of the Cash For Clunkers program was to stimulate the United States economy during one of the worst recessions of our lifetimes. — the leading resource for information on the auto industry — used their team of PhDs and statisticians to run the financial numbers. 

They suggested that without the Cash For Clunkers program, many car owners would not have traded in their old cars to buy a new one. In that way, the program was a success. However, when you take a closer look, you can see it was a failure. The 3 billion dollars the government used to fund this Cash For Clunkers program came from taxpayer money. estimated that 125,000 new cars were bought due to the Cash For Clunker program, which means each new car bought cost the United States taxpayers about $24,000! Even worse, the CEO of — Jeremy Anwyl said, “October [2009] sales are up, but without Cash for Clunkers, sales would have been even better.” 

Ultimately, the Cash For Clunker program did not achieve its goals of creating a more green automotive industry to improve environmental conditions. Nor did it achieve its other goal of stimulating the economy. 

Will There Be A Cash For Junkers 2021?

It’s hard to say. There was talk among the United States Federal Government in 2020 to develop a Cash For Clunkers 2.0, but it was never enacted into law. Now in 2021, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has proposed a plan to revive a plan similar to the one implemented in 2009 under the Obama administration. This has been met with a lot of opposition from opposing politicians. Senator Schumer estimates a new Cash For Clunker program will cost $454 billion (BILLION!) dollars. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming says it is “doubling down on [Obamas] failure.”

It’s easy to think this program will make the government pay for old cars, but the truth is that these programs are all funded by taxpayer money. For this and other reasons listed, it’s very hard to tell if there will be another one anytime soon.

The Current Government Car Buyback Program In California

As of this publication, the California State government does have a junk cars trade in program. Like the Federal Government’s Cash For Clunker program, it comes with many stipulations and criteria to be met.

  • It will only take your car if it has failed a SMOG test.
  • It will only take your car if it starts under its own power.
  • It will only take your car if you drive it to the junkyard.
  • It will only take your car if there are no missing parts
  • It will only take your car if you are a California resident

For these reasons, California has been pretty picky about which junk cars they will take and which they won’t. A lot of states are mandating a lot of requirements for their Cash For Clunkers program. Some states, like Utah, don’t even have money for a cars program. Most of the State programs require not only all of the Federal Government imposed criteria for the Cash For Clunkers program, but their own requirements, as well. 

Should You Take Your Clunker And Sell Car To the Government in 2021?

So if Cash For Clunkers does come back, who would it benefit?

Even though it’s largely touted as an environmental program meant to stimulate the economic impact of your average American, it would largely benefit the automotive industry. The auto industry has taken a hit — mostly from a loss of jobs in car making factories that have been closed or massively downsized due to the pandemic. It’s also taken a hit because a lot of Americans are struggling financially right now and simply aren’t in a position to buy a new car. 

We know many Americans are struggling — including car salesmen, factory workers, and other employees in the automotive industry. We know these people will need to get back to work as soon as possible, and in that way, a Cash For Clunkers program would stimulate the automotive industry and allow these people to get back to work. But to put it bluntly: a new Cash For Clunkers program won’t benefit your average American with a junk car. But does that answer the question:

Should I Sell a Car To the Government? 

If you like costing the taxpayer money for very little positive environmental impact, extremely strict criteria that will take you a lot of time and effort to figure out if you qualify, and needing to drive your car over to the junkyard and find a ride back home, then yes, you should sell your old car to the government. If you want a better way, keep reading...

At JunkCarsUS, We Buy Clunkers 

If you’re tired of hearing about all the roadblocks to getting money from the Federal Government in a Cash For Clunkers program, we’re happy to tell you there’s a much better way! We’re JunkCarsUS and we buy clunkers! With headquarters all over the U.S. from Las Vegas to New York, we are the junk car buyer for you. We offer a TOP DOLLAR INSTANT OFFER over the phone or on the scrap car value calculator on our website, so call us today at (855) 547-1550. 

Unlike the Federal Government, we’ll take nearly ANY car in ANY condition! If you have a non-running car with a blown engine, you don’t need to worry about getting it to a junkyard. We offer FREE TOWING, so you have nothing to do except call us, take your cash, and let us take your junk car away! Don’t wait for the Federal Government to stop arguing with each other, trying to figure out a new Cash For Clunker program. We offer a same-day service without any paperwork for you! It really is that simple with JunkCarsUS, so don’t wait any longer and contact us today!

Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

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