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Rain checks for clunkers

August 13, 2009 |  2:01 pm

Rain-check-320 The federal government said today that it would allow dealers to issue rain checks in some cases to 'cash for clunkers' customers who want to buy out-of-stock vehicles.

High-mileage cars such as the Ford Focus, the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic have been in great demand under the clunkers program, which is geared in part toward steering buyers to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Dealers have reported that inventories of these and other gas-sippers are running low, leading to fears that clunkers participants could end up buying less fuel-efficient vehicles than they otherwise would have.

The Department of Transportation said today that dealers and consumers who have reached a valid sale agreement on a vehicle already in the production pipeline can still qualify for the program.

To order a car under the cash for clunkers program, the dealer must obtain the Vehicle Identification Number from the manufacturer before submitting the transaction to the government for approval. In addition, the dealer must have all required documentation for the trade-in vehicle in order for the rebate request to be considered, the government said.

As of today, dealers had requested approval of $1.4 billion in rebates on 338,659 clunkers transactions.

-- Martin Zimmerman

Photo credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times