Cash For Clunkers: Ford's Qualification Calculator

Scott Benjamin

(Courtesy of Ford Motor Company)

Just yesterday, I gave you a few tips that may spare you the anguish of someone taking advantage of you in the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) -- aka Cash for Clunkers. Basically, it boiled down to one suggestion: Use the NHTSA's official Car Allowance Rebate System Web site,, for all program information. But how do you find out if your car is truly a clunker? Well, Ford Motor Company can tell you -- and you don't even need to drive to the dealership to get the answer.

Ford has a really neat Cash for Clunkers Qualification Calculator on a Web site called Let Ford Recycle Your Ride. It only takes a few seconds, and it truly doesn't get much easier than this. As long as you know your car's vital stats, including year, make, model, engine, transmission and drive, the calculator instantly provides you with an answer. After you've entered your vehicle's information, just fill in your ZIP code and press the submit button. That's really all you have to do. The site tells you the rebate amount your trade-in qualifies for depending on the replacement vehicle you select. Remember, you're not actually signing up for anything here, so don't be afraid to hit the "Submit" button on the calculator.

Remember, different requirements and rules apply for pickup trucks and vans in the Cash for Clunkers program. But no worries -- Ford has you covered there, too. In the lower left corner of the calculator, there's a button that reads, "Own a Pickup Truck or Van? Click Here." That selection takes you to a page where you can read all about the unique program rules that apply to pickup trucks and passenger and cargo vans.

There's also a button that tells you what to do if your vehicle isn't listed.

I have to admit, this calculator is pretty interesting to play around with. Whether you do or don't plan to participate in the Cash for Clunkers program, just for fun, spend a few seconds entering your current vehicle information. Go ahead ... I'll wait.

So, is the car you drive to and from work or school every day considered a clunker? How about the rest of the cars your family drives? I just found out that the 2006 Jeep Liberty that we recently returned to Chrysler (it was a lease car) would have soundly qualified for the clunker rebate. Now, clearly it wouldn't have made sense to trade a 2006 Jeep Liberty for just $4,500, but it's interesting to know that up until a few months ago we were leasing a car that the U.S. government now considers a clunker. That's also a bit depressing.

And if you were really paying attention while you were on the Let Ford Recycle Your Ride Web site, you probably saw the entire fleet of 20 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles that qualify as eligible replacement cars (they're at the bottom of the page). Maybe we should talk about those and other qualifying new cars next time?

More related stuff: How Ford Works How Cars Work HowStuffWorks - Trucks