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Clunkers program goes on: Local dealers hope to make sure 'deal of the century' keeps going

By Seth Leonard
sleonard@salisburypost.com
Local car dealers took news about extra funds for the “cash for clunkers” program in stride Friday.
Dealers were concerned that the program would be terminated, but the overwhelming success of the initiative has led to an additional $2 billion being set aside.
“They’re saying it’s the best stimulus money they’ve ever spent,” said Kristin Haynes of Team Chevrolet in Salisbury.
Thanks to the CARS program dealers have seen sales numbers as good as those achieved before the recession.
“This is like the old days of selling cars,” Haynes said. “We’d love it to be like this forever.”
Savvy buyers can combine federal money with company and dealer incentives to get an even better deal for themselves. Chevrolet fans can get a new Aveo for half price if they qualify, but shoppers aren’t limited to economy cars. New SS Camaros post high enough gas mileage to count in the CARS program.
But it isn’t all smooth sailing for those selling cars. Many dealerships had spent the last few months trimming sales personnel and downsizing. Thanks to the recent jump in sales volume they’ve found themselves caught behind. And it doesn’t help that each car purchased through the program generates twice the normal paperwork.
“The stipulations are harsh,” said Derek Raper of Gerry Wood Honda. “A title should be all they need.”
He said he could sympathize with the fact that the government is doing what it can to be careful with taxpayer money. The sales process was considerably slower, though. One customer presented three registrations, but was still forced to wait while the salesmen contacted the DMV to get a more current copy.
Memory Burgess traded in her 1995 Chevy S-10 Blazer to get the most toward a new car. Her transmission was on its last leg, which helped the Blazer’s case as a clunker.
“Basically I needed a new car instead of one that might need maintenance later on down the road,” she said.
She also said that she would not have considered buying a brand new car without the extra $4,500 from Washington.
Buyers interested in cashing in on similar deals should act quickly. Although the program is set to run through the fall, there is no guarantee that the allotted money will last that long.
Thom Dillard of Team Chevrolet agreed and said poor credit and procrastination are no excuse to miss out on saving money. “This is the deal of the century,” he said.

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