The federal government approved a program - part of the stimulus bill - for car owners to turn in their gas guzzlers for credit towards a newer car. The main goal is to remove polluters off of the road. Be aware that websites are trying to use this as a way to conduct identity theft.
Don't be fooled and be careful about giving out information. Don't trust a site unless it is a credible one such as a notable news or government websites that end in .gov.
As for your clunkers, read the following website for what and what doesn't qualify for the program.
Please do research on the new vehicle you plan to buy. While dealerships are give the option to take advantage of this program, they may bend the rules; like adjusting the vehicles that are part of the program.
I once worked at a dealership where management decided to adjust the price of all cars to $4000 over the MRSP. They planned this strategy as a way to make a profit and to withstand negotiations. When prospective buyers negotiate, the dealership would be able to make what they planned because they receive at least the MRSP. Before you leave your home, carry a printed out sheet, detailing the value of the new car and what it goes for in the area.
Dealers are unethical businesses that only care about making money. Don't think they are trying to be nice to help you. That is the main reason that I never made it as sales associate. I never could take advantage of people in way that management wanted me to. My actions would cause families, couples, and students to restructure their life because of a massive car debt. Of course, you may find some random sales associates that are nice and are willing to help you out.
Take advantage of technology: print out the cash for clunkers information, new car literature, and also stay within your budget. Please don't buy a car that you don't like or need. My little brother bought a Honda Accord Coupe last year. Before he left home, his goal was to buy a family car because he was expecting his second child. Now, my brother and his wife, are having another child this upcoming December. He already struggled to strap down his two kids in the back seat of a coupe, but now has to figure out what to do with a third child. Also, his original budget was $4,500. He ended up spending $16,500. Please know what you want beforehand and be prepared to fight off the sales vultures to purchase the car you need most.
Know ahead of time what you want to buy, how much you will spend, and to don't allow the sales associates and management to take advantag of you. Without customers, the dealerships are nothing. As a customer, you fund their business. Sales associates hate selling cards to customers with advertisements in their hand. The high performers would rather push those customers off to the rookies and take advantage of the other people that are easier to manipulate.
Bring everything you need to get the best deal possible. It is better to do research then to spend a bundle on the total cost of the vehicle. My mother was tricked into settling for a deal that included a $5000 cost after she paid off her car. She went along with a friend that was so excited about her finding the right car, that she was not of any help to negotiate on the car and to find a deal that was best suitable for her budget. The sales associates made a fortune off a woman thhat works into 2am in the morning doing custodial services for a child development center. Simply put, she has to clean toilets, mop floors, and do other duties. She is 62 years old. If I lived in the area or knew that she planned to buy a car that day, I would have went along with her to prevent her from getting ripped off. Adding another fee on top of the cost of the car was a bad deal.
Lastly, don't leave home without new car literature, cash for car clunker rules, guidelines, and the cars that qualifiy for the program, and be assertive. Just know; you don't have to buy your car from that dealership, especially when there are many other places you can go. Dealerships may try to tell you that your car doesn't qualify, when in fact it does. I would also take advantage of consulting the Internet department of a dealership because the sales associates there sell in volume and are not worried too much about making profit off of each sale.
Just a last note, California also offer a plan on www.smogcheck.ca.gov If you don't want to make the necessary repairs on a car that you don't think is worth the money to fix - to pass smog - the State offers $1000. You can take advantage of the program twice a year. With the way California is fumbling around with cutting programs and being unabel to decide on a budget, the program may not be properly funded. Go out on the site and determine whether California is still honoring the program.
Good luck on your future car purchase.
Other helpful websites
www.kbb.com/ (check the value of your car - if it doesnt qualify)
www.Toyota.com/CashForClunkers (explains about the cash for clunkers plan)