Clunker funk leaves some dealers feeling sunk

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - East Texans wanting to cash in their old clunkers better act fast. The popular Car Allowance Rebate System or Cash for Clunkers program ends at 7 p.m., our time, Monday night. Some dealers are still wound up as the government program winds down.

"We got on board, we played and, now, we hope to get paid," said Trey Patterson owner of Patterson Nissan.

"We [have] a little over 50 clunkers," said Patterson. "I think we started the day with 52 clunkers 2020

Translating to more than $200,000, he says the government now owes him. But it's 52 more sales he says he probably would not have had.

"It stirred up the traffic, and we sold some cars so I think it's been a great program," said Patterson.

As of Thursday, the clunkers program recorded more than 457,000 transactions, worth nearly $2,000,000,000 in rebates. But, it's reported that dealers have only received about $140,000,000 - roughly 7% of those claims.

"I hope this is the end of it," said John Ray, sales manager for Lively GM. "I hope we never see it again."

Ray suspended the program at Lively before the government cut it off the first time. He got back onboard after Washington voted to triple the clunker budget. He is still waiting on the cash for his three clunkers.

"We need to get back to people buying cars when they're ready to buy one, not when the government, General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler, or somebody else tells them they need to buy one," said Ray.

"I think the program's intent was really good," said Brad Hall, Hall GM's sales manager.

He says it was not executed well at all.

"Nobody knows the car industry better than car people," said Hall. "If they gave us a little bit of input, I think the whole Cash for Clunkers program would have been much more seamless."

He says he expects more customers to hit the lot this weekend before "Clunkers" goes "bye-bye" for good.

The Department of Transportation says the deadline allows dealers and buyers enough time to finalize deals and get the applications in. GM and Chrysler said they would start providing dealers with cash advances to help them cover any losses related to the program while they wait for the government reimbursements.

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