Clunkers do well in area

Published 12:39 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SELMA — Bill Lovelady of Reliable Cadillac, Pontiac, GMC Trucks in Selma is “a celebrity of some sort” in local automotive circles.

Lovelady has gotten the first refund in the area for a reject through President Obama’s “Cash for Clunkers” stimulus program. Car buyers who meet certain criteria can receive up to $4,500 for a trade-in.

The Car Allowance Rebate System is being used to help jump-start struggling auto sales and to improve the environment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is overseeing the program through participating new car dealers who can handle the paperwork when a vehicle is bought.

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Lovelady said, however, the program is slow to turn around the rebates for the rejects.

“It’s slow moving in terms of the rebates,” Lovelady said. “There’s been a lot of activity. For people who have clunkers, there’s really no other choice.”

Harry Bowen, a salesman at Turner Chevrolet-Buick in Selma, said “Cash for Clunkers” is “a typical government program.”

“Hurry up and wait,” Bowen said. “It has been extremely successful throughout the country, but a lot of dealers are feeling the crunch.”

Bowen said a recent National Automobile Dealers Association publication said only 2.8 percent of the claims has been paid in the program.

Tim Young, business manager at Turner, said, “We are going to have rejects. We can’t make any changes until they are listed as rejects.”

Young said the turnover between reject and rebate is supposed to be 10 days. “We have one reject that has been sitting in the back since Aug. 3.”

Lovelady said he had three cars waiting in line to be considered rejects.

“The concept is much better for the country than anything else in the stimulus package,” Lovelady said, “because it gives money back directly to the consumer.”

Although the used-car inventory “is at a premium” now, Lovelady said, the clunkers are disposed according to certain rules.

“You have to follow the government’s rules,” he said. “The way you are supposed to, go by the letter. There must be documentation that the engine has been disabled, and that it has been sent to a government-approved facility for crushing.”

A spokesman for Victor Nissan in Selma said the dealer is not participating in the “Cash for Clunkers” program. “We thought we would have fewer headaches” by not participating, he said.