If you've been holding off on getting a new car due to the state of the economy, you might have a reason to start shopping now. Congress just recently passed a bill which includes the Cash for Clunkers stimulus program. This special program is for owners of used cars who wish to trade in their car for a more fuel-efficient automobile. The dealership is able to apply a $3,500 to $4,500 savings voucher towards the purchase or lease of a new car which offers better fuel efficiency.

The Cash for Clunkers program falls under Title XIII of Bill H.R. 2346, which outlines all of the policies, terms, language and provisions for the C.A.R.S. program. C.A.R.S. is an acronym for Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009. It also stands for "Car Allowance Rebate System". It's basically an effort to start getting cars that aren't environmentally friendly off the roads, in exchange for better vehicles. This program will not only aid the environment but also gives incentives to the consumers to start buying cars, which in turn will give a boost to dealerships. It's no secret that the automotive industry has been one of the hardest hit businesses since the economic downturn, and this plan is designed to help out.

There's five simple steps to participate in the CARS program, and really there is very little work required of the consumer beyond showing up and purchasing or leasing the new car. First, you can visit the website CARS.gov for all the latest information about the program. Second, you can use the website to determine whether or not you qualify, and what you'll need to bring to the dealer. Third, once you have signed off on the purchase or lease of a new car, the dealer will hand over specific information to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Admins.). Fourth, NHTSA will make sure all requirements of the CARS program are properly met. And finally, within 10 days of the transaction, NHTSA will issue a financial credit to the dealer in the amount you have qualified for.

The program will run from July 2009 until November 2009 and has specific Cash for Clunkers rules for eligibility. For example, your used car must get 18 miles per gallon or less for fuel efficiency. The program is also extended to bigger SUV's and cargo vans, with the miles per gallon requirement being 15mpg. your car must be less than 25 years old to qualify. Also, your trade-in "clunker" must include your proof of insurance and registration for at least a year prior to the trade-in. Your car's title must be free of liens or other issues before you arrive at the auto dealership. The trade in must also be in drivable condition when it's brought to the dealership. Make sure these simple processes are in order prior to making a deal for your new car, and you'll most likely qualify for the voucher. Keep in mind that this program will last until November 2009, or until the entire allotted funding for this program has been exhausted, whichever comes first. Judging by the popularity dealers are reporting so far, this may be a deal many people act on quickly.