Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Gone with the Clunker, In Comes the Fit

Gone was this one:

Came this one:

The Cash For Clunkers (C4C) program was pushed out by the government on July 27th. The intention of the program was to remove some gas guzzlers off the road (thus the clunkers are destroyed instead of being reused) and replace them with the new gas efficient cars. (Just don't ask me why a mere 4mpg improvement on trucks can qualify for $3500 credit. I don't understand that either.) Originally, the program was funded with $1 billion, and rumor had that it had run out within a couple of days after the launch due to the rush-ins of the C4C applications from all over the country. That made a lot of dealers nervous and many suspended their participation. The government added $2 billions within one day. That had to be one of the fastest actions taken by the government except for the wars.

The '87 Isuzu Trooper (with 230K miles) was a text book Clunker. It seems that many people were getting rid of their clunkers that had been sitting in their backyard or on their driveway for years using this program. But Mr. Mud actually has been using the clunker for his commute (just as what the program had hoped for). It does not have AC. And  he can't even use the heater due to some radiator issue. So, it's pretty typical to see him leave at pre-dawn for work in his down jacket and come home after work in his sweat stained undershirt.  When he drove up to WA for two weeks in my CR-V, I got the first hand experience with that clunker. The good thing that came out of it was I learned to drive with one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake so that when I went to work in the morning when the engine was still cold, it would not die on me on the ~300 yards of downhill right out of the house. (Oh, did I mention it was a stick shift?)

Mr. Mud liked Ford Focus and really wanted to support this home grown brand, unfortunately they do not make hatchbacks now. My criteria for the new car is we must be able to throw at least one bicycle in without any fumbling at all. Ford Focus would not cut it.

The next candidate was a Toyota Prius. We liked it so much that we decided on a particular one from a Sunnyvale dealer with a mutually agreed on price. When we went in with our checkbook to make the purchase they pulled the blanket from underneath us because they would not honor the selling price if we wanted to do C4C. We walked out.

Then over the weekend, we thought about it a little more and test drove a little more, gradually our mind set on a Honda Fit Sport. Our house and the yard can definitely use the money we save since a Fit is quite a bit less expensive than a Prius.

Then it became somewhat smooth sailing for us. We printed an Internet quote on a red Fit from Anderson Honda, went in and told them, we wanted this price but that car (an orange one), and we would do C4C. That was on Monday, the first day the program got launched. There was no haggling at all about the price, which was pretty nice. It took a few days for them to fully figure out what paperwork was required and how to get around the constant crashing using the program online submission system, and we staying on top of it (called and stopped by daily) helped too. Finally our application was submitted on Thursday, July 30.

Today, two full weeks later, we went in and picked it up. It's about time, because Mr. Mud grew anxious everyday in the beginning (I received multiple "did they call yet" text messages everyday) and then more pessimistic everyday ("we'll never get it"). But today, he drove to the dealership in his clunker and left in a shiny orange egg shell. Whoohoo!

That's our Cash for Clunkers story.

About the orange color:
1. Mr. Mud picked it because it was supposed to be the least produced color among Honda Fit Sports. Not sure if that's true, but we'll just believe so.

2. Last night, I overheard Mr. Mud talking to our orange tabby, Mango, "tomorrow, we are going to bring home another Mango. Much bigger and faster than you!" Mango just looked up at him and meowed. It took me a second to realize he was talking about the car.

3. This morning, I joked with him when we were about to leave for work, "Too bad you don't have an orange shirt to wear when we go pick up your orange car." He answered without a pause very matter-of-factly, "no, but I'm wearing orange underwear. I can be subtle sometimes." (I confirmed it was true.);

4. At the dealership lot, the salesperson was doing the last bits of paperwork signing before handing off the new car. He asked, "Okay, you have checked inside and outside. It looks fine and is not a lemon, right?" Mr. Mud answered quickly, "No, it's not a lemon; it's an orange!" That got the salesperson and me chuckling for quite a while.

Funny stories I had read online about other people's C4C experiences:
1. One person had to purchase a new battery to put in for his car so that it could be taken as a clunker because after he drove it to the dealer, it required jump start.

2. One guy worked hard in the blazing sun stripping every interior parts out of his car after he took it to the dealer as a clunker. He even siphoned the gas so low that the dealer ran out of the gas when he moved the car to the lot in the back.

6 Responses

  1. scotton 17 Aug 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Nice car and a good deal on it, too. Is it 4-wheel drive?

  2. mudwormon 17 Aug 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks. We would have liked a Prius too. I didn’t think they made them 4WD. Well, we don’t really need that anyway.

  3. David Woodon 17 Aug 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I don’t know about the ground clearance in that thing, mate. If I known you were looking, I could have made you a deal on a slightly used toy. (only 220k!) really, just a baby, when you think about it…

  4. mudwormon 17 Aug 2009 at 8:37 pm

    That seems like such a deal since mine only had 230K. Would be like having a new rig.
    Here’s to sweat in your eye

  5. Alison Chaikenon 21 Aug 2009 at 9:19 pm

    A great story about the wonderful understanding between you and Mr. Mud. Honda has the best engineering of all the major manufacturers for my money. I hope the car works our for you!

  6. mudwormon 24 Aug 2009 at 9:35 am

    Well, Mr. Mud and I were in front of my computer together, so we read your comment at the same time. We then turned to each other and asked simultaneously, “there was understanding between us?”