Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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
Best places to retire abroad in 2017 The top 10 places to retire overseas include beautiful beaches, cozy towns, and the best food you will ever eat -- all for half the cost of what you may pay in the U.S. More
Best business class airline lounges around the world Between August 2015 and May 2016, Skytrax surveyed over 19.2 million customers to find the best airline lounges. Here is what they found. More
What Boeing's new 737 Max 9 has under the hood Boeing unveiled its new, longer 737 Max 9 airliner earlier this month, the second member of the updated single-aisle jet family. The first aircraft will deliver to airlines starting in 2018. More

Special Offer