Toyota Tundra Cash For Clunkers Notes

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As you’ve undoubtedly heard, congress is very close to passing a so-called “cash for clunkers” bill (technically known as “Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act“).

The idea behind this bill is to get older, less fuel-efficient vehicles off the road and replace them with newer cars and/or trucks. The hope is that this bill will 1) Help kick-start auto industry sales and 2) improve the environment by crushing a bunch of older vehicles that are currently polluting.

Little orange truck
Creative Commons License photo credit: k4dordy

While there are a lot of very smart people who dislike this bill – either because it’s not environmentally sound or because it’s not going to work – the fact is that none of this seems to matter. The bill was passed by a healthy majority in the House of Representatives, and most analysts seem to think it will pass in the Senate and be signed into law shortly. So, with that in mind, here’s what you need to know if you’re considering buying a new Toyota Tundra using a Cash For Clunkers voucher:

  • It’s only for new vehicles. Sorry, but no used vehicles will get vouchers.
  • Most vouchers will be $4500. The rules are a little complicated and still subject to change, but the long and short of it is this: Most new vehicles will qualify for a $4500 voucher. We ran a few different scenarios over the weekend and just about every one of them worked out to a $4500 clunker voucher.
  • It’s not just for domestic vehicles. When the bill was first being discussed, a lot of people wanted the money to be for domestic vehicles only (a.k.a. Ford, GM, and Chrysler vehicles only), but that provision was dropped early on.
  • Most “clunkers” are going to be old trucks or SUVs. The bill defines “clunkers” as vehicles averaging less than 18mpg (according to their combined rating on That all but rules out most passenger vehicles.
  • The voucher can only be used if the trade is junked. The voucher cash is only available if the powertrain in the vehicle being traded-in is destroyed (and therefore made worthless). If your old truck is worth $2500, the local dealership is going to give you $2500 OR the voucher – not both.
  • It’s going to be hard (or very risky) to manipulate this program. It looks like the government is going to require dealers to verify the following for every “clunker”:
    • The clunker is drivable.
    • The clunker has been registered and insured by the trading customer for at least 1 year.
    • The clunker gets less than 18mpg.

    Enforcement is probably going to be some version of the honor system with random verification. Most new vehicle dealers will be very careful to follow the rules because the penalties will include prison. SO, if you don’t currently own a clunker, there’s probably not much point in rushing out and buying one in order to get the voucher.

  • This bill is going to make your old truck more valuable. If you have an old truck or SUV that qualifies for the clunker program and you’re NOT interested in buying a new vehicle, there’s a silver lining for you. As old trucks and SUVs are junked, the few that remain will definitely increase in value.

If you’ve got an old clunker, you’ve got one more reason to buy a new Toyota Tundra!

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Bruce says:

    so my 2007 4.7 tundra a clunker. 14.7 to 15.0. still going to keep it.

  2. Bruce – Technically, that’s true. The only problem is that you would have to accept the voucher ONLY for trade-in. That’s probably not a good deal…well, it might be a good deal for anyone driving a Dodge! 🙂

  3. Mickey says:

    This will be lucky if it works. These vouchers are coming from our tax dollars? I’m sure people will see the ruse in this and not buy into the program. More control is all this program goes to.

  4. mk says:

    I own a 1986 chevy caprice classic with 305 V8 with 170K, runs O.K., burns no oil but does pollute the air at startup, and according to fuel economy standards gets 16 city and 23 hwy. So, will my car qualify for the 4500 trade-in? I realistically get almost all hwy. driving 18-19 mpg, never 20 mpg or above, but cutoff is 18 mpg or less while standards states it averages about 19 mpg overall so will not qualify – correct???? Any help? I would love to get a 4500 trade-in for a new tundra and would gladly do it since car is worth about 1K (tires fairly new and worth 200 bucks at least total of the 1K). Will my car qualify considering it still runs, but is over 20 years old and probably pollutes the air more than any 1990 and above car on the road? I think the govt. should take more into account than just mpg and such other items as smog/air pollution control.

  5. mk – According to the website, your 1986 Caprice has a combined fuel economy of 18mpg. Assuming this is how regulators determine fuel economy ratings (and it should be), your vehicle will qualify as a “clunker.”

  6. mk says:

    thanks Jason for your comment but I think the fuel economy rating is 16 city and 23 hwy for the 305 chevy V8, but never has seen over 20 mpg even when newer some 20 years ago. If you average 16 and 23 miles, it is over 18 and around 19.5 or so. I guess I can only take it in if the fed. govt. approves the legislation to accept my 4500 trade in allowance which would be awesome and see what the dealer says. If I wait too much longer then the car might not be running much longer so 4500 bucks is better than 1K or less selling outright. Can’t hurt to try since 3500 more bucks in my pocket is better than nothing. I wonder if you can trade in 2 vehicles (1 my 86′ caprice and my other 07′ tundra)? This way, I would almost break even and not have to pay much at all for a 2010 tundra double cab. Jason or anybody else, do you know if dealers can allow 2 trade-ins for a 2010 tundra?

  7. mk says:

    I just saw that the fed. govt. approved the cash for clunkers program. Unfortunately, I really don’t think my 1986 caprice classic will qualify to buy a new 2010 tundra (car yes, truck no) since the new light duty truck bought must get 18 mpg (and the 5.7L is rated at 17 hwy, but the 4.6L is 19 hwy I think), but the catch is even with the 4.6L V8 tundra, my caprice classic, according to the law, has to get 2 mpg less than the new light duty truck to get 3500 trade in voucher and 5mpg less to get 4500 trade in voucher. The caprice gets 18 mpg driving and unless I can prove to the toyota dealer the tundra will average and actually get 20 mpg on the hwy with the 4.6L V8 which it might since I have gotten 19 hwy with my 5.7L tundra (but EPA rates it at only 17 mpg hwy). Does anybody know if the 4.6L V8 2010 tundra 4wd is rated at 20 mpg hwy? If so, I might have an outside chance to get 3500 trade in voucher. The fed. govt. should have considered not only mpg, but also smog/air pollution because I know 100% my 1986 caprice spews out more pollutants thru the tailpipe than a new tundra would anyday.

  8. MK – I think you’re correct about the voucher not being available for you if you’re looking to buy a truck, but I think it’s still too early to say for sure. Again, if you look at the fuel economy rating on (and I’ve read this is the site that you need to consult), your vehicle gets an EPA combined fuel economy rating of 18mpg. The trouble for you is that you’re trying to trade a car “clunker” in on a new truck. There’s no clear guidance yet, so I would suggest you wait until the government rolls out their new website with all the criteria in the next month or so. Can you wait until the end of July to buy your new Tundra? 🙂

  9. mk says:

    I might as well since right now, the 2010 tundra double cab are slim pickins. 18 mpg is correct on my caprice, and I confirmed the 2010 4.6L tundra 4wd is rated at 15/19 which is only 17 mpg average which is not 2 more mpg to get 3500 rebate since the tundra double cab weighs around 5600 lbs and new vehicles/trucks weighing 6,000 lbs. or more need only 1 more mpg better, not 2 to get 3500 rebate. I’ll wait and see, but I wish I would have waited 2 months until now to get a 2009 corolla which would have qualified. Timing is everything when it comes to rebates.

  10. Scott Erickson says:

    Can I trade my 1997 Honda Passport in on a new car or does it have to be another SUV under this fed program??

  11. mk says:

    It sounds like you can trade any vehicle in as long as it gets an average city/hwy driving of 18 mpg or less in on ANY new vehicle that gets at least 2 more mpg for 3500 trade in voucher (your 97 honda passport may be worth over 3500 trade in though???) and if new vehicle gets 5 mpg more than trade in, then you can get 4500 trade in voucher. I don’t think too many cars on the road get 18 mpg or less, but it would qualify more for trucks and some heavier full size SUV’s. What sucks is unless you have a way older vehicle that is worth trade in under 3500 or 4500 bucks, the fed. govt. cash for clunkers program is useless. Basically, if you know your older vehicle is worth 3500 or 4500 bucks, you might as keep it and sell it outright for more than that amount. If the fed. govt. wants these older gas hogging and air polluting vehicles off the roads, they should consider not only mpg, but also the amount of air polluting these older cars do to the environment. I, for one, am going to drive the 86 caprice into the dirt until it costs me over 1K to fix unless the fed. govt. and Obama gives me as a nice gift a 3500 or so trade in voucher. I wish I liked the chevy aveo better or similar dinky car for about 10K, because with a 4500 voucher trade in thanks to the Obama administration, 5500 for a new car is pretty darn cheap, yet cramped/not fun to drive.

  12. Scott – You can trade your SUV on a new car – in fact, that’s the most likely scenario based on how the law is worded. However, as MK said, there are some things to consider.

  13. Jim says:

    I have a Dodge minivan that gets around 18 miles per gallon. Do I qualify for a voucher, and do I have to buy a truck? I want a Toyota Highlander. What are the chances?

  14. Mickey says:

    I seen where one of the stipulations you have to own that clunker for at least one year in order to qualify. Jason can you find out what if they have any other stipulations?

  15. mk says:

    One of the rules is your new vehicle purchase has to get 2 more mpg avg. fuel economy to get a 3500 voucher and either 4 or 5 (not sure) to get the 4500 voucher. Jim, unless the toyota highlander has the 3.5L V6 and not the V8, it probably would not get 2 more mpg. I too would like to trade in the caprice getting 18 mpg, but even the 4.6L V8 2010 tundra in 4wd gets 17 mpg avg (15/19) so it would not qualify. Basically, most new full size trucks and larger SUV’s with V8 engines will not qualify unless your clunker gets really bad gas mileage under 14-15 mpg avg. city/hwy. fuel economy. Correct me anyone if I am wrong. There is a lot of info. on the internet on the cash for clunkers so most people should be able to figure it out. I thought I read that 1 billion dollars is set aside for the program and will take effect starting August 1st and probably running to possibly until the billion is used which they guess is this November or later.

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