Car Buying Without Government Assistance

Prairie Gleanings

Cash for Clunkers makes car buying tough for those without a clunker.

Published on: October 9, 2009

As we get deeper into the month of October, I hope the ill-conceived "Cash for Clunkers" program completely fades from folks' memories.


From day one, I disliked the program. However, I didn't think I'd see its impact firsthand. I was wrong.


In September, my wife and I paid off one of our cars (a Nissan Sentra). The past few trips to visit family have been pretty crowded in our Sentra or Toyota RAV4. Thus, we want to upsize one of our vehicles.


That's right, we're actually talking about getting worse gas mileage with our next automobile purchase. While it may not be the "in" thing, anyone who's tried to squeeze a baby stroller, portable crib, toys, two gallons of nursery water, five overnight bags (three for our son, two for us), extra shoes, etc. into a compact car understands our predicament.


We approached several local dealers. Visions of stimulating the economy without government assistance were running through our head. Much to our surprise, no one really wanted our business.


At each lot, the salesmen were just paying us lip service. Not once did I hear, "What can I do to get you in this car today?" or "Here's my rock-bottom price." Nope. They basically acted like paying sticker price was the only way to buy a car.


As we left one of the dealers, we drove past probably 50 clunkers. Then it dawned on me. It's the end of September. They've met their quotas already thanks primarily to the cash for clunkers program.


My blood pressure really got going when I saw how nice some of the clunkers were. I still don't know why the program dictated these cars must be destroyed. How many hard-working folks are locked into a high-interest car loan? Rather than destroy these clunkers, why not sell them at an extremely low price to someone who really needs it? It would be a load of debt of their plate. That would free up a lot of purchasing power.


As for us, we still have the same two cars. Even though the Sentra is small, it's more fun to drive now that we own it.


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