A clunker is a popular reference to the old vehicle traded in under the U.S. government’s “cash-for-clunkers” program, rolled out in 2009, for a newer, more fuel-efficient vehicle.
For most Americans, the word clunker triggers a memory from summer 2009: the CARS (car allowance rebate system) program, commonly referred to as “cash for clunkers.” The government offered up to $4,500 to each person who traded in a qualifying clunker — a vehicle reaching less than 18 mpg.
An overwhelming 85 percent of vehicles traded in were trucks (and 59 percent of new purchases were cars). 670,000 autos and $3 billion later, the roads are a much “cleaner” place; fuel efficiency has improved by an incredible 58 percent.
For a “clunker” to be eligible for the program, it must have satisfied four conditions:
- It has to be in drivable condition
- It has to have been continuously insured for one year prior to the trade-in
- It has to have been manufactured more than 25 years ago on the date of trade-in
- It has a combined fuel efficiency of 18 miles per gallon or less
Each year thousands of people sell or trade in their Clunkers and each year, we see a trend in the types of cars that make the top 10 list of purchases and trade-ins.
According to Consumer Reports, these are the top purchased cars and traded in cars in the clunker program.
Top 10 cash for clunkers purchases:
- Toyota Corolla
- Honda Civic
- Ford Focus
- Toyota Camry
- Hyundai Elantra
- Toyota Prius
- Nissan Versa
- Ford Escape FWD
- Honda Fit
- Honda CR-V AWD
Top 10 cash for clunkers trade ins:
- Ford Explorer 4WD
- Ford F150 Pickup 2WD
- Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD
- Jeep Cherokee 4WD
- Ford Explorer 2WD
- Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
- Chevrolet Blazer 4WD
- Ford F-150 Pickup 4WD
- Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2WD
- Ford Windstar
Many people find it easy to sell or trade in a clunker because there are several Cash for Clunkers companies such as Cash4Clunkers.org that will give consumers an instant offer online and once a price is agreed upon, will pickup the car from the consumer and deliver the payment in hand.
This program was created to incentivize people from driving their clunker cars and selling them or trading them in for more energy efficient and newer models that won’t cause as much pollution and that are better on gas.
Cash for Clunkers programs received roughly $2 billion in federal funding to get these cars off the road.