By on July 29, 2009

Think your clunker gets 18 mpg combined? Plan on cashing in on the CARS clunker rebate program? You might want to double check those EPA numbers over at  As part of the buildup to the Cash For Clunker program, the EPA undertook “quality assurance and quality control effort regarding fuel economy calculations on more than 30,000 vehicle model types spanning the past 25 years.” But according to CNN Money, this pre-stimulus housecleaning turned up bad data for about 100 vehicles and ended up changing their clunker rebate eligibility. Although “roughly” the same number of cars became newly eligible as became newly ineligible, this news came as a nasty surprise to owners of the 1993 Camry V6 wagon, 1995 Saab 900S, 1988 Toyota 4Runner and the 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis. And since the EPA’s statistical quality control didn’t take place until the official launch of the program, some shoppers had their deals planned out before realizing that their trade-ins were too efficient to qualify. Meanwhile, dealers have their own complaints about the program.

One anonymous dealer writes:

I wish you would let us opt out of the cash for clunkers deal. Three dealers on the conference call stated that they were not fucking with this bullshit. You wouldn’t believe the bullshit involved in this. I don’t see this costing us any significant sales. We will waste more time fucking with this than it will ever be worth. The rebates are in place to subsidize the deal. Collecting our money will be a full time job.

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15 Comments on “EPA Update Causes More Clunker Confusion...”

  • avatar


    Now gimme that Mighty-Mighty Marquis.

  • avatar

    Some vehicles get nowhere near their EPA marks and while their EPA marks are over 18, their actuals may be under. Will the EPA evaluate actual fuel economy and use real-world numbers adjust the eligible vehicles accordingly?

    Hah ha! Just kidding! I know reality will never intrude on this program!

  • avatar

    A dealer whinging about Cash for Clunkers?

    Boo effing hoo.

    I’ll take my bidness elsewhere.

  • avatar

    in reality, the dealer quoted has some valid points…

    The cash [rebate] should be directly the FED and the consumer, maybe with the dealer signing a form or two…

  • avatar

    This is good news, the price of Panthers won’t go up!

  • avatar

    An illustration of government bureaucracy in action.

    They could screw up a 2 car funeral.

  • avatar

    Who made the decision to redact 20-plus-year-old data at the 11th hour? Put his/her face on the internet.

    Oh, and if there is another round of revisions, the public interest will be served by automatically qualifying vehicles with landau tops.

  • avatar

    Attention dealers that want to opt out of Cash for Clunkers; Sell your cars at list price and don’t negotiate. That will have every customer on your lot heading for the exits. The downside is that once word gets around, you might not get the “non-clunker” folks either.

  • avatar

    Credit where credit due:

    This first reported on JALOPNIK several days ago… That said, they also have posted the full list of newly eligible/ineligible cars. Very interesting stuff…

    BTW, for those of you holding your breath, you can now, finally, trade in that old E30 M3 you’ve been dying to scrap. Argh. I imagine cross referencing the lists with sales figures (and/or used car reference values) would yield an interesting story…

  • avatar

    Yep, don’t assume your “clunker” is eligible. One of my cars used to be eligible. Then EPA reconsidered and decided the combined MPG is 19, not 18. No biggy; if I go ahead and trade I’m probably better off with a clean used car anyway.

  • avatar

    So strange. That ’87 in the pic is IDENTICAL to my ’91, but the ’91 still qualifies. “Bored bureaucrats” is really the only feasible explanation (whether or not there’s science behind the changes). But I wouldn’t want to trade my Grand Marquis anyway, not after reading what they do to the clunkers. Besides, where in the world can I find a new car with a white vinyl landau top, eh, spyspeed? They’re priceless.

  • avatar

    I’d rather have the clean 87 Grand Marquis than anything I’m likely to get new.

    Really, a choice between the Grand Mark which costs you nothing or a Cobalt or Focus with a payment.

    No brainer.

  • avatar

    One would assume that the presence of “rich Corinthian leather” within a conveyance would be automatic placement upon the clunker list.

  • avatar

    Wow. I remember hitting 18 mpg with my ’87 Grand Marquis on one or two (downhill) highway trips. Other than that, the mileage was abysmal.

    Still miss the crushed velour, pillow-top bench seats. That, and the ability to gently float over every pothole on the Belt Parkway at 70 mph with just my pinky on the steering wheel.

  • avatar

    It was either find a way to limit the trade in’s or pony up more money we don’t have. I wonder if the bailed out companies had to face this level of Scrooge when they asked for their money.

    Big business gets billions while Joe Six pack gets a few coppers for his pickup truck.

    Get back to work, AIG is waiting on your paycheck to cash.

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