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While the “Cash for Clunkers” program is estimated to save 72 million gallons of gasoline each year, simple vehicle maintenance would save more than 12 billion gallons of gasoline a year (equivalent to all of the gasoline used in Illinois, Michigan and Connecticut in one year). Additionally, vehicle maintenance does not require a dime of taxpayer money and doesn’t require destroying perfectly good used vehicles that could be sold or donated to people who cannot afford a new car, reports AAIA.

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“Understandably the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program is wildly popular among new car dealers, car makers and those consumers who have the ability to buy a new vehicle. However, the majority of Americans cannot afford a new car payment today, but they probably can afford to trade up to a newer used vehicle or make their current vehicle more fuel-efficient,” said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO.

“Doesn’t it make more sense to give a tax credit or other incentive to the majority of Americans to improve the fuel efficiency, safety and dependability of their current vehicle, rather than taking their tax dollars to help a small minority of consumers and pump up new car dealer profits?” said Schmatz.

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AAIA opposes the “Cash for Clunkers” program for the following reasons:

•    The program destroys many vehicles that are not even close to being defined as “clunkers” with years of remaining life and use.

•    Destroyed vehicles are removed from the market forever, depriving consumers who seek to purchase a used vehicle or charities in need of donated vehicles.

•    It hurts the aftermarket companies that manufacture, distribute, sell and install vehicle parts on used vehicles, and those who rebuild/remanufacture vehicle parts.

•    Resources and energy use is multiplied when a vehicle is destroyed and a new one is built to replace it.

•    The majority of vehicles being traded in are domestic, and the majority of new vehicles being sold are foreign.

•    The program entices consumers to purchase a new car that they might not be able to afford and certainly to go further in debt, reminiscent to the sub-prime home mortgage debacle.

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•    The program is regressive since only those at higher income levels who can afford to purchase a new car will qualify for the $4,500 voucher, while destroying used cars that could be purchased by lower income families, most in need of assistance in obtaining transportation.

Consumers interested in learning exactly how vehicle maintenance will save money should visit the Car Care Council Web site at www.carcare.org.

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