Oregon Clunker Customers Get Scrapping Checks

Some Oregon car buyers who traded in their old vehicles for more fuel-efficient models under the Cash for Clunkers program got an unexpected bonus check in the mail.

In addition to the $3,500 or $4,500 discount they received on their new car, dealerships like the Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships sent checks to customers for the scrap value of their trade-ins. The government required that car dealers tell customers what their old vehicle’s scrap value would probably be but didn’t specify where the money should go. It said dealers could keep $50 of the cash.

Ron Tonkin told the Oregonian that although most of his customers had no idea the checks were coming, the dealership cut and mailed checks totaling roughly $200,000. Tonkin’s dealers were getting an average of $375 for the clunkers, so they deducted the $50 and mailed the rest to customers. It sold 681 new cars under the program and mailed out checks to those buyers averaging $325 apiece.

Other Oregon dealerships like Wentworth Chevrolet and Carr Chevrolet in Beaverton said they would send similar checks to their customers. All told, 253 Oregon dealers received $36.8 million in Clunker payments from the government.

This raises the question, though: Have dealerships around the country been following a similar protocol and mailing checks to customers? Or have they been pocketing the full value of the scrapped vehicles?

Some Auto Dealers Mail Clunker Customers Refunds (OregonLive.com)

By Stephen Markley | October 16, 2009 | Comments (6)


Since they're car dealers, I'm going to go ahead and guess that for most of them, no, no they're not. Keeping it all.

Troy S.

I think the dealers should return the scrap money to the tax payers. All tax payers foot the bill for the few who were eligible to participate in the program. It's only fair that the scrap money should be returned.


Wow...what a nice surprise...good job Oregon dealers...I am doubtful this is happening at many dealers.



I agree with Troy, instead of sending the money to the people who just got a new car, send the money back to the government to pay back the money they spent to help the people get that new car.


Once again I agree with Troy, the Dealers should not be pocketing the money, How Greedy :(

To be fair, the dealers did have to float the C4C money for a few months. 50 cash for clunkers deals is about $200k. Just sitting out there for a few months waiting for the government to pay it...it is horrible from a cash flow perspective. HOWEVER, yes, customers in more places than Oregon will be receiving checks.

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