Dealing with 'clunkers' uncertain future

August 10, 2009 7:46:15 AM PDT
We are hearing from local car dealers about how they are coping with the uncertain future of the government's popular 'Cars for Clunkers' program. It's a program that is driving up their stalled sales. [INTERACTIVE: Take a look at how the CARS program works]

Friday could be the last day of the $1 million rebate program. The White House says it will run out of cash unless the Senate follows in the House's footsteps and approves another $2 billion.

Freeway Ford is counting on business from the Cash for Clunkers program. But right now, it's not giving away much cash at all. With fears looming that the program has run out of money, some dealerships have stopped accepting those clunkers altogether.

Freeway Ford sales manager Stephen Prather says he's still hanging on, just scaling back. Yesterday, he says he only honored two deals in the program, but he's holding on to paperwork for several other customers who may qualify.

"We are honoring, but it's case by case, day by day, minute by minute," said Prather.

Car companies do stand to profit and Ford stands to do particularly well. Its Focus is one of the most popular replacement vehicles and the company says in July, sales rose 2.4 percent from the same time last year.

"I just try to sell some cars," said Prather.

But car salesmen like Prather say the program is changing the job a bit. Never before has he had to pay so much attention to politics.

Dealers say if the program does run out of money and the government is not able to repay them for the clunkers they've already accepted, they'll be the ones who lose out. And some of them aren't willing to take that risk.

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