PORTLAND, Ore. -- Are you looking to buy a new car? You might want to think about doing it before the first of November.
A federal rebate program kicks off Wednesday, July 1st which is designed to save consumers thousands for trading in older cars or trucks.
The idea is to stimulate the economy while saving the environment.
About a dozen calls a day have been streaming into Wentworth Chevytown in Southeast Portland and receptionist Nancy Wilhelm has been taking them all.
"Everyone has been curious about the C.A.R.S. program," she said.
C.A.R.S., once known as "Cash-for-Clunkers" now stands for Car Allowance Rebate System. Consumers and dealers alike are very excited it is now underway.
"The idea is to get older, less fuel efficient, dirtier burning cars off the road and replace them with clean burning vehicles," said Greg Remensperger the Executive Vice President of Oregon Automobile Dealers Association.
Remensperger said chances are you qualify for the rebate deal if your car or truck model year is 1984 or newer, it has a combined fuel economy rating (Federal law requires auto manufacturers to determine the fuel economy of new vehicles offered for sale in the U.S. That information is provided on a fuel economy label affixed to each new vehicle's window) of 18 miles per gallon or less, the vehicle must have been registered and insured to you for the past year and your vehicle is in "drivable" condition, he said.
"As you know, this goes into effect the first of July and dealers and consumers are already chomping at the bit to go out there and take advantage of this," said Remensperger.
"Business is alright but it isn't like it used to be. This would help and we're excited about it," said Bob Wentworth, president of " Wentworth Chevytown."
The law says the rebate must be used to off-set the purchase or lease price of a new vehicle.
Remensperger said consumers do not have to deal with any of the rebate paperwork.
"The dealer is actually the one that gets the rebate directly from the government so the consumer doesn't have to fill out any paperwork or wait for a tax incentive at the end of the year when they do their taxes," said Remensperger.
If your vehicle meets the qualifications, he said you will save between $3.500 and $4.500 on a new fuel efficient car or truck.
"There's more incentive for getting the less fuel efficient vehicles off the road and replacing them. If you've got a big displacement between what your old gas mileage was and your new gas mileage was it can give you that $4,500 rebate. It's based on what the difference is in what the mileage was that you got with your old vehicle versus the mileage you got with your new vehicle," he said.
It's all about stimulating the economy and helping the environment. It should help the environment significantly, said Wentworth.
"Technology has come so far. I mean with just the way that the engines; the variable valve timing and things that they have that make them burn cleaner, they have more power while using less fuel and it's a whole new game," he added.
Dealers like Wentworth will be required to take care of dismantling the cars and trucks and getting them to recycling centers.
"Each dealer will have to have some entity that will destroy the cars and then the government will pay the dealer back the money," said Wentworth.
"We're kind of excited. We think it could be a good opportunity for people who have lower value cars who wanted to try and upgrade but they couldn't afford it. Now they can get into another car and save a lot of money," he added.
There is one credit per person, per vehicle. Remensperger said. Another incentive according to Remensperger?
"The rebate can be 'piggy backed' with manufacturer rebates which are now at all time highs."
"Even in the commercial end of it; companies have vans that are at 150 thousand miles. This would be the perfect opportunity for them to maybe upgrade their fleet," said Wentworth.
"It's time to go out and start kicking some tires and taking a look at some cars. [It's time to] take a look at just how much money you can save," Remensperger said. "It creates a great incentive for consumers to lower the cost of a new vehicle and help the environment by getting a cleaner-burning car on the road and replacing the one that they had."
The C.A.R.S. rebate program ends November first or when the $1 billion allocated runs out.