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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Dealer-funded ‘Auto Stimulus Program’ offers up to $4,500 for USED cars

Hoping to cash in on the explosive success of the Cash for Clunkers program, a group of more than 60 car dealers across the country have funded the '2009 Automotive Stimulus Program.' Unlike the government-run clunkers, the dealers are offering consumers with a qualifying trade-in $500 to $4,500 towards the purchase of new AND used vehicles with the option to lease for any term. There's no scrapping involved and the rules are less restrictive:

1. Current vehicle is a 2006 model year or older
2. Current vehicle is operable
3. Current vehicle has been owned for a minimum of six months
4. Current vehicle has been registered for a minimum of six months
5. The replacement vehicle has to be more fuel efficient by a minimum of two mpg
6. Incentives vary based on current vehicle and desired vehicle
7. Incentives vary by State, Make and Model. Incentives vary in some states due to state laws that regulate to automotive advertising and promotion. (1)

These are just the requirements for anyone with a qualified trade-in, for those who don’t own one, consumers can still qualify for the program if they buy a vehicle with a combined fuel economy of 19mpg or better. The real kicker: 

-All Auto Stimulus Plan incentives can be used in addition to the government incentive program for eligible consumers. 

If I’m not mistaken that could mean up to $9,000 off the purchase or lease of a new or USED car. But according to Automotive News, dealers only set aside between $500,000 and $5 million to be used before November 1 - much like the government-run program but with a much smaller budget. 

Motor Trend cautioned that they aren’t sure “how much additional money above normal dealer incentives this program will provide or if it's mostly a creative way to wrap existing rebates.” But added, “Regardless, it's a catchy program that has potential.” (2)

The process for participating in the program is listed on the Automotive Stimulus Program website at


1. Submit a request for pricing information by completing the form on this website.
2. A participating dealer will contact you to schedule an appointment to evaluate your current vehicle.
3. Visit the dealership to select and purchase your new vehicle and all applicable incentives will be applied to your purchase or lease of a new or pre-owned vehicle. (1)

If this process seems at all shady and anonymous there’s reasoning behind it. Sean Wolfington, co-founder of Level 5 Advertising in Dulles, Virginia which created the campaign and web site says the group won’t post a list of participating dealers because some of them “don't want the government to think they are working against them and have that affect their reimbursements." (3)

Instead, consumer’s who fill out a request form at will have their information forwarded to as many as three nearby participating dealers. (3)

"This is a very fluid situation with cash for clunkers,” said Vince Sheehy, president of Sheehy Auto Stores Inc., of Fairfax, Virginia, “Our push has been let's see where we are going and then we will adjust our marketing program.

“Had cash for clunkers been suspended, we would have moved into this next program. We are still scrambling,” he said. (3)



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