Were you wrongly denied your CARS (i.e., Cash for Clunkers) rebate?

Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
Edmunds.com will be approaching the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on behalf of consumers whose clunkers applications were rejected for reasons outside the spirit of the qualifications. For example, if someone had a name change, or traded in a clunker before the mileage refresh was announced, or was otherwise surprised by a rejection and is now struggling with their dealer resolve the situation.

If you have a story to share, please email us at [email protected]


  • mattmaccmattmacc Member Posts: 1
    I was denied -- this is a great story.

    My girlfriend of 7 years successfully traded in her clunker and purchased a new car. Her clunker was titled and registered exclusively to her. However, she wanted to have my name on the title of her new car so that I could deal with estate issues should that become necessary. So she recorded my name as a co-owner of the new car at the time of purchase.

    A week later, when I attempted to trade in my clunker, my application was rejected by the CARS computer system due to my name being recorded as having already participated in the program.

    One simple change would have avoided the rejection -- if girlfriend had NOT put my name on the title of her new car as a co-owner.

    The irony is that the clunker I wanted to trade in had been purchased many years ago by my son when he was too young to legally purchase a car. It was "actually" his car, just titled and registered to me.

    This was very sad for him and his girlfriend. The three of us had driven his clunker many miles to dealership, had negotiated and finalized the deal, purchased the new car, left the dealership with new car, and had just sat down and ordered at a nice restaurant to celebrate when we received the call from dealership saying "hold on, there's a problem with your CARS application". We had to return the new car that minutes earlier had been ours -- or so we thought.

  • dgissel_98dgissel_98 Member Posts: 16
    Purchased car 3 weeks ago, got 3500 cash for clunker, dealer called monday said
    govt denied car. Reason my registration expired for 2 months. Daugher had car a school, recieved no registration in the mail, went to illinois license dept to get my registration had to pay 50 late fee for registration. owned car for over 4 years.
    Think this is happening alot.
  • niteknightniteknight Member Posts: 2
    Bought a new car 4 weeks ago under cash for clunker program and got $4500 deduction from purchase price. Gave dealership all documents they needed (whatever they asked for) - proof of year long insurance, year long DMV registration card, pink letter (lien release paper from bank). Signed all paper which included release of liability of my old car, DMV papers, purchase contract. Particularly asked dealer before I left dealership if they got all needed documentations for cash for clunker program. They said yes.

    Got several phone calls from dealership this week said that I provided them incomplete documentation. Therefore, they can not process my transaction under cash for clunker program so they will need to estimate my car as trade-in (of course they gave me low price). I found out they failed to get DMV certificate of title for my old car by using pink letter from bank before the clunker for cash expired on 8/24 (however dealership said they will handle the paper work before I drove away the new car).

    The points are:

    1. Dealership is responsible to collect all needed documents for cash for clunker before allowing customer drove away the new car. Most of customers do not know what type of documentation will be needed for the claim.

    2. Dealership failed to use pink letter to got DMV certificate of title before 8/24. They have at least 3 weeks to get it done but they failed to process it.

    3. Both of my old car transaction and new car transaction had been completed and I had nothing to do with dealership any more.

    4. I would not purchase new car if my car were not qualified for cash for clunker in the first place and will still dive my old car till it die.

    Not quite sure what is next step in this situation - may be legal action. Too sad, It is bad experience.
  • joel0622joel0622 Member Posts: 3,299
    I don't see what the big deal is. Surely they submitted it knowing they were short documentation. Now all they need to do is get the title and resubmit it.
  • shelleemshelleem Member Posts: 2
    Found out today that my application for the program was denied - even though I met all of the qualifications - continuous insurance, continuous registration, clear title etc. My application went in on August 1st and found out today (Aug 31st) that it was denied.

    It was rejected because there were 2 other applications in the system for the same vehicle. There had been two other deals on the car before I purchased it that fell through because the people weren't able to produce all of the necessary documentation (the dealer had shared this). The dealer said that they weren't able to cancel those applications but once they were rejected - which they were certain they would be, mine would go through. Mine came back denined on Saturday because there was already an application submitted for the vehicle - one of the deals prior to mine on 8/1.

    I called the 800# on the cars.gov website and talked to a customer service rep - when I explained what had happened she said that even though the 2 previous deals were rejected they would still be in the system and needed to be cancelled for mine to go through - she gave me a phone number for a group that would help the dealer walk through how to do this - I've passed this info onto the dealer but am not optimistic that anything will come of this.

    The dealer attempted to save the deal but only offered minium blue book for my trade in - the only reason I was considering a new vehicle was because of the program and the $4500 rebate. Without it, the deal didn't make financial sense. Very disappointing - because this took an entire month to play out, I've missed any opportunity to go somewhere else to take advantage of the program.
  • joel0622joel0622 Member Posts: 3,299
    All of these BS reasons are killin me. If I called every customer who had the claim denined I would be on the phone all day. The first 37 we submitted got rejected. We are just fixing them. Its not that hard. All your dealer has to do is cxl the sale in the supplier payment system and resubmit your claim.

    BTW, the money is starting to flow now. We are getting approvals everyday.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsAdministrator Posts: 11,132
    Yes, joel - the reasons some of these were denied DO seem like BS, and outside the intended spirit of the program. I'm glad you noticed. We asked people to post their experiences here in order that we might provide some help.


    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

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  • troybatailletroybataille Member Posts: 1
    I was denied for similar reasons. I owned my vehicle for over 4 years. When the registration expired in December, I didn't get the notice due to a change in address. I re-registered in Februray, paid a late RENEWAL fee and went on my way, but the lapse in registration caused the deal to fall through. My deal was signed the weekend before C4C was set to end, so there was no time to go to DMV and get it fixed, if I could.
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Member Posts: 2,798
    So, if the dealership poured the motor destroying goo in the engine before the deal was finalized, how will the compensate the original owner if they have to return the new vehicle?
  • joel0622joel0622 Member Posts: 3,299
    I was denied for similar reasons. I owned my vehicle for over 4 years. When the registration expired in December, I didn't get the notice due to a change in address. I re-registered in Februray, paid a late RENEWAL fee and went on my way, but the lapse in registration caused the deal to fall through. My deal was signed the weekend before C4C was set to end, so there was no time to go to DMV and get it fixed, if I could

    All the program calls for is proof of registration for a year, there are some ways around your proplem. If the dealer reads the check sheet it say "Proof of vehichle registration for one year. It then goes on to say that if you don't have a full years proof then a copy of a CURRENT registration and a copy of the title showing over one years ownership or a copy of a carfax showing a matching title # older then one year."

    The reason for this is that not everyone saves there old registrations. When one expires you throw it away and put the new one in your glove box. Here in TN Registrations are good for a year and I would say that 70% of my claims did not have the old registration showing a one year track record..

    Where you may run into problems though is that they have already submitted it with the lapse in registration. If you go by the letter of the law you don't qualify. If they would have submitted it like I said earlier it never would have been questioned.
  • niteknightniteknight Member Posts: 2
    I called my lawyer in CA. My laywer told me that if the dealer did not get reimbursement from governmnet then it is still a conditional sale and consumer still need to go back to deal with dealer. Either resent the deal or come out some solutions with delaer.

    Plus, the dealer told me that $4500 C4C is taxable income.
  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    Plus, the dealer told me that $4500 C4C is taxable income.

    No, that is not true. The "Clunkers" legislation specifically states that the allowance/rebate is NOT to be taxed as income. Your dealer may be confusing it with a sales tax and whether sales tax is charged depends on which state you are in.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • grantnorrisgrantnorris Member Posts: 2
    On August 8 I agreed to purchase a new Nissan Murano in Pennsylvania and provided all paperwork for my '97 Explorer to qualify for the CARS program. I made a $500 deposit and got an invoice with a VIN number and $4500 trade-in credit. Delivery was promised on Aug 17. On 8/28 delivery was promised on 9/25, on 8/31 I was told that the car had be sold to someone else. Now the CARS program have ended the dealer is willing to sell me an equivalent Murano but without the $4500 trade in value for my Explorer. Can I enforce the original contract? How would I find out?
  • joel0622joel0622 Member Posts: 3,299
    Were you fraudlent in your application?
  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    Was your Explorer scrapped?

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • shelleemshelleem Member Posts: 2
    Wanted to pass on the rest of my story -

    I provided the dealer with the phone # from the cars.gov customer service rep and also the input received here that there should be a way to cancel the two previous applications for the VIN # and resubmit mine.

    Finally heard back today that they felt had invested enough time trying to work through this and the vehicle had been sold to another party. I had signed the contract, provided all of the documentation, a $500 down payment on 8/1 and planned to take delivery when the rebate was approved.

    In talking with the sales manager, I was able to gather a few more details - the first deal on this vehicle was submitted in the first few days of the program and was rejected soon after. The second deal came shortly after that and was submitted - these people backout of the deal on 7/31 or so but the dealer said that once this application was in the system and "locked" they couldn't cancel it. So the vehicle became available again but the application was still in the system - that's when I entered the picture on 8/1 - I purchased the vehicle, the dealer entered my application with a different VIN # (I guess to prevent the same VIN from being on 2 applications). He said that they were waiting for deal #2 to reject/release/whatever so that my application could be updated with the right VIN and be processed but the application on the second deal continues to hang out there "locked". It sounded like because of this my application was never in the system for the vehicle I intended to purchase as the program came to an end - but I was in the system enough that had I wanted to go somewhere else it wouldn't have worked because my DL# was already in the system.....

    I really don't know what to think at this point - was the problem with how the program was administered and system limitations? was it how the dealer handled the multiple applications on this vehicle? a little of both? I just know I've invested alot of time, energy and emotion over the last month and don't have a new vehicle to show for it.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsAdministrator Posts: 11,132
    A reporter is looking to speak to consumers were not satisfied by the customer service provided by Toyota (or Toyota dealerships) during the Cash for Clunkers (or CARS) program. Please send your daytime phone number to [email protected] by Friday, September 11, 2009.
    Corporate Communications


    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • sbeamsbeam Member Posts: 1
    Good Day,

    I traded in a vehicle that met all the criteria for the cash for clunkers except that the vehicle had an 11 day gap in the registration due to problems incurred while updating the tag last year using the online service. I have had the vehicle for 8 years and it has been continuously registered except for the above mentioned, insured and driven. Prior to doing the CARS deal, we called the CARS hotline and explained the situation. The lady that answered our call after being on hold for 55 minutes was very courteous and said that we should be fine since the vehicle was insured with no gaps in coverage. After hearing this we went ahead with the deal.
    The dealer was still wary and said that he was going to hold My new vehicle until after he received his check. After waiting for approximately 2 weeks and reading about all the problems and rejections in the news, I decided to call the CARS hotline again to put my mind at ease. This time my call was answered after only 30 minutes. The gentleman that answered had a much different answer. He said that a gap in registration of even one day would disqualify the vehicle. Mind you this is after the previous CARS hotline employee told us it would be ok and I purchased the new vehicle. The process and rules were so complicated that even the CARS program employees did not fully understand the rules.
    Now the dealer and I are very nervous that my vehicle will be rejected.

  • dapplegraydapplegray Member Posts: 1
    Our dealer refused our car because according to the Texas Department of Transportation database our car was 6 days late being registered this last year.
    TXDoT is in charge of collecting registration fees for the state. They in turn allow each county to collect these fees and transmit data back to TXDot. The counties in turn can subcontract out this task and in Travis County a local grocery store chain, HEB has this contract. So, last year, 2 weeks before our registration expired we renewed at our local HEB. We have a printed receipt showing the date and received the tags for the car from HEB. HEB in turn submitted their transactions on a weekly basis to the Travis County Assessor's office. The County Assessor's office in turn supplies this information to TXDoT. (Are you all still with me?)

    We have owned the car we wanted to trade-in for 13 years and it has been continuously registered and insured for this entire time.

    We approached a dealer in Dallas and struck a deal. I faxed over copies of our insurance and the latest receipt showing the car was last registered December 19, 2008. I also phoned the C4C 800# hotline and spoke to a representative who said the paper receipt was just fine and all the dealer needed for proof of continuous registration. Well, that ain't so...

    Our dealer informed us that the Federal Government required them to use the TWIX report (I believe it is also called a few other things, (no that isn't a joke)) and according to our dealer our car was registered January 6, 2009. 6 days AFTER the expiration date. Now, they had in their hands my written receipt, but NO, they HAD to use the information from the TXDoT database. So even though Texas state law allows TXDoT to subcontract out their collection duties it in no way compells them to input the data into their system either in a timely fashion or based on actual transaction dates.

    From what I can tell, based on the process described in the first paragraph, anyone renewing their registration with any type of subcontractor in the state of Texas will probably have their registration show being up to 3 weeks late. Ergo, No Go!!

    I don't begrudge the dealer not wanting to follow through on the deal. They are running businesses not charities and it is not their fault that this program was so poorly planned and implemented.

    The dealer told my husband that several other people had been denied because of this same issue, and they had not had any luck contacting anyone to get their information changed in the system.

    My husband did go to our local TXDoT office, the day the C4C program ended. He managed, after much "buck passing" on the part of several employees, to find someone willing to actually fix the problem. Unfortunately, changing information in most databases requires a 24 hour wait, as most information is updated in the wee hours. So, although I have no way of checking at this point, we have been told that the information on our car has been updated to show the correct renewal date. The day AFTER the program ended. Cold comfort (unless the government decides to re-enact this crazy program again).

    It would be nice if the "powers that be" could get together and figure out how to actually implement a program and share information correctly and accurately. If we had known early enough about the "electronic database" being the hurdle to clear, we could have gone to a dealer and had them pop the VIN# in and found out this was a problem and then maybe we would have had time to fix it.
  • joel0622joel0622 Member Posts: 3,299
    The people who answer the phone for the CARS hotline know NOTHING!!! They know absolutley NOTHING!!!!! They are people who have been pulled from other departments and told to sit there and answer the phone. I got one guy to admit that he worked the Dept of Homeland Defense and when he came to work that morning they told him to report to the CARS office.

    take nothing they say to the bank.
  • SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
    If you can email [email protected] as well, that would be great!
  • buffo1buffo1 Member Posts: 1
    On August 18th, 2009, my husband made a "Cash for Clunkers" deal at the Millenium Dealership in Hempstead, NY. He was trading in our Kia mini van for a RAV4... however the salesman claimed they were out of RAV4s at the time. So he charged $1000 to our credit card to "hold the deal" until the car came in. Supposedly, everything was set with a car loan, insurance, etc. His payments would be just over $300/month.
    My husband was in touch with the dealer while waiting for a car. Each time he spoke to them, whether in person or by phone, he was told not to worry -that the deal would be honored. They were just waiting for the cars to come in.
    Finally the dealer called and said they had the car on 9/4. It was not the exact car or color he was promised but he was going to take it. The salesman then told my husband that they could only give him $750 for our minivan (instead of $4500) and that our monthly payments would go up to $412/month (over $100 more). My husband argued that the deal was set. Despite having $1000 down to hold the deal they refused to honor it. Even after asking for a manager he got no where. I called Toyota Headquarters to complain and was told that they have nothing to do with dealer sales or pricing. They only deal with car quality. They took my complaint and said they would pass it on to the Regional Sales Director.
    Why would the government allow them to continue selling when they didn't have cars available to sell? When the funds ran out, they stopped the program. What about when cars weren't available? My husband thought he had a deal so he never went elsewhere. Meanwhile, other dealers probably had cars. It all seems unfair to the consumer and poorly controlled by the government.
  • shaunni78shaunni78 Member Posts: 1
    I know this has been posted already a lot, but I, too got denied on my cash for clunkers application. I went in to the dealership, negotiated my price and everything, drove off with the car and had it for over 2 weeks when they called and said that my application had been denied due to a 1 week period between the time my registration expired and when I got my new sticker. I think cash for clunkers was a good deal, but they really needed to be very clear on all the rules of the program.
  • jimcasimirjimcasimir Member Posts: 2
    We traded in our 1993 Jeep Cherokee for a Toyota Prius. If you look up clunker in the dictionary there is a picture of our Jeep. Two days later Findlay Toyota called to say that although we had owned the car for five years, the car had been insured by Progressive for the full five years there had been an interruption in the registration. Yes, earlier this year our beautiful Jeep could not pass the smog inspection. When we got the necessary repair work done (for $650) the Nevada DMV gave us new registration and charged a penalty for the period it was being repaired of $32.

    Not continuously registered ... bring in a check for $4,500. I called Department of transportation three days in a row. Each time a contract answering service would talk with me about it and promise that "an agent" for the agency would call. No one called.

    This is all wrong.
  • jb_turnerjb_turner Member Posts: 702
    Why would the government allow them to continue selling when they didn't have cars available to sell? When the funds ran out, they stopped the program. What about when cars weren't available? My husband thought he had a deal so he never went elsewhere. Meanwhile, other dealers probably had cars. It all seems unfair to the consumer and poorly controlled by the government.

    Dealers are independently owned. C for C ended before 9/4.
    Your complaint will not get passed on to the Regional Sales Director it will get binned.
  • jb_turnerjb_turner Member Posts: 702
    I think cash for clunkers was a good deal, but they really needed to be very clear on all the rules of the program

    They were very clear on the rules pertaining to registration.
    There was a lapse in registration.. hence no pay.
  • jb_turnerjb_turner Member Posts: 702
    Not continuously registered

    There was a lapse in registration.. hence no pay.
  • jimcasimirjimcasimir Member Posts: 2
    I know the "continuous registration" requirement was set as one year. I think they were aiming at continuous ownership. The government did not want us to buy a car to use as a clunker trade-in. I have not seen the original legislation but I suspect that DOT installed the one year registration requirement.
  • johhnybjohhnyb Member Posts: 2
    Did you get you car back and unwind your deal? I ask because I had the same problem. However KarMart in Burlington WA waited to 2 months before they contacted me and now they sent me to collections and want $3500. I asked give me my car back and unwind the deal but they will not! I think they resold my car and made a profit. :mad:
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