Clunker program stalls for some dealers

CARS, the government’s Cash for Clunkers program, is dead, according to some local new-car dealers.

Others are determined to stick with the program until Monday, the official government deadline for the program.

“We have already stopped, because we have until 6 p.m. Monday to submit them to the government, but an hour ago the Web site crashed,” Fuoco Motor Co. General Manager Ed Nielsen said at 1 p.m. Friday.

Nielsen and other dealers said the program was a great idea, but the government’s administration of it has been wanting. The Web site crashes constantly, several dealers said. When it does work, it takes an hour or more to input one deal.

Then there is the question of payment. Most local dealers have not received any money from the federal government.

With the Monday night deadline for inputting deals onto the government Cash for Clunkers Web site fast approaching, some have stopped making deals,  while others anticipate putting the program into park either today or early Monday.

“We are going to do our best to keep it open through Saturday,” said Larry Garrison, general sales manager of Grand Junction Subaru. “As far as I know, I am going to run it through Saturday night.”

Grand Valley Hyundai plans to offer the program at least until Monday.

“As long as we enter everyone in, we can still go through with it until Monday,” said Tim Davis, used car manager for Hyundai.

Davis said his dealership is one of the few local ones that have received money.

“We have had a good experience with it,” he said. “We just jumped on the ball right away with it.”

Other dealerships still are waiting for government money.

“So far, we have not had one deal approved yet, and I think only three (deals) have been reviewed since Aug. 3,” Nielsen said.

At the Subaru dealership, Garrison said he hasn’t seen a dime from the program.

Money aside, his main frustration is that because the government Web site crashes so much, it takes three to four hours to input one deal.

But all the dealers said the program gave a boost to business.

They have concerns because if the government does not accept the deal, or if a deal is not reported to the government before Monday night, the dealerships will take the loss.

“We are left holding the bag,” Nielsen said.

The clunkers’ only value to the dealers is the $3,500 to $4,500 rebate from the government, because the program requires that the clunkers be destroyed.

“Some of them, they seem to run pretty good. They are not as bad as I thought they’d be,” Davis said.

His clunkers go to Van Gundy’s salvage yard. Photos before and after crushing are taken, and a liquid cement is poured into the engines to ensure they are never on the road again, he said.


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