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Car Allowance Rebate System

Car Allowance Rebate System

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After President Obama signed the Car Allowance Rebate System into effect on Wednesday — it's commonly called the "cash for clunkers" law — he set the wheels in motion for one of two things to happen, depending on whom you talk to: The law is either a needed shot in the arm for the retail auto industry, or a boondoggle that will cost taxpayers millions.

There is one thing that nobody can dispute.

In thumbing through the text of the eight-page law, there is bound to be some confusion.

Example: To qualify for a $3,500 or $4,500 taxpayer-financed "voucher" to apply to the cost of a new vehicle, your old car must be EPA-rated at an overall 18 miles per gallon or less.

Supposing your "clunker" is a 1987 Chevrolet Caprice: That vehicle was available with four different engines and two different transmissions.

A Caprice with a 4.3-liter V-6 and a three-speed automatic transmission is rated at 18 mpg, so it qualifies.

If the car has the same engine and a four-speed automatic transmission, it is rated at 19 mpg, and doesn't.

If it has a 305-cubic-inch V-8 engine, it qualifies.

If the V-8 engine is 307 cubic inches, it doesn't.

According to the automotive information Web site, a 1987 Chevrolet Caprice with the V-6 engine in average condition is worth about $149 in trade-in value.

If that car has the three-speed automatic transmission, it is worth as much as $4,500 toward a new car.

With the four-speed transmission, it's worth $149.,0,1464821.column
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