Cash for Clunkers: Is it for you?

Even if you think your old car qualifies for a Cash for Clunkers rebate, you may be surprised at your options.

1 of 7
BACKNEXT
2001 Ford Mustang Bullitt GT
2001 Ford Mustang Bullitt GT
Combined MPG: 18
Trade-in value: $3,800
Verdict: Sell it yourself
The rule of thumb to figure out if your vehicle qualifies for the government's new "cash for clunkers" program is: If it gets a combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon and has a trade-in value less than $4,500 it probably makes the grade.

But just because your vehicle qualifies for the program doesn't mean you should actually take advantage of it. In some cases, you could still do better without it.

Take a 2001 Mustang Bullitt GT. With an estimated combined city and highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon, the Mustang GT could get you a $4,500 voucher for a new car with better fuel economy.

But considering that Mustang fans would be appalled at the idea of tossing a special edition GT coupe into the maw of a car crusher, there is a better way: Sell it yourself.

Since trade-in value represents, essentially, the "wholesale" cost of a new car, you can generally do much better by selling the car directly to a new owner, bypassing the middle man.

In this case, selling it yourself would net you about $5,500. Whether that extra $1,000 -- and the pleasure of knowing the car will live on -- is worth all the trouble is up to you.

We've selected a swath of popular vehicles and determined whether or not their owners should take advantage of "cash for clunkers." In all of these examples, the estimated values are calculated by Kelley Blue Book, assuming, except where otherwise noted, a base-model vehicle with standard equipment that is in "Fair" condition and has been driven about 15,000 miles a year. We're also assuming you can qualify for the maximum $4,500 credit on your new car.

Click through for a look at the sometimes surprising verdicts on a few more vehicles.


NEXT: 2001 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Last updated July 29 2009: 2:26 PM ET
Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
Values assume 15,000 miles a year and "Fair" condition.
Find Your Next Car
More Galleries
My part-time job is a dead end, but it's all I can find CNNMoney profiles 4 of America's 7 million part-time workers unable to find full-time jobs. More
Cool cars from the LA Auto Show There are some of the standout vehicles on display this year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. More
American Dream homes: Prices in 10 cities How much does the American Dream home cost? From $2 million in Los Altos, Calif., to $65,000 in Cleveland, here's what you'll pay for a 4-bedroom, 2-bath house, according to Coldwell Banker's annual survey. More

Special Offer

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.