It's got tape on the bumper, a cracked windshield and rust everywhere. Only one description for this 1993 Nissan:

Mike, Car owner"A clunker."

But this Stoughton family figured that was the good news! After President Obama announced the Cash for Clunkers program, Mike figured his mom–could swap her rickety old van for a nice new car.

To qualify for the program–which would give them the full $4500 discount—they knew their clunker must have an EPA city-highway "combined" rating of lower than 18 miles per gallon. Step one was to check the official government website to find the MPG of the car. And they did.

Mike, Car Owner"It said it got 17 miles per gallon combined."

17 mpg, perfect. But when Mike and his mom got to the car dealer, the deal screeched to a halt.

When the dealer opened the same EPA mileage chart-it showed the clunker got 18 miles per gallon! Too high!

Same Web site, same car, two different mileage numbers.

Mike, Car owner"So we both sat there scratching our heads"

Why were the numbers different? Turns out: just as the program began, EPA changed them! And across the country, that had customers and car dealers baffled.

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News"This is a mess."

Robert Okoniewski, Executive Vice President of the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association"Yes, this is a potential mess."

EPA officials told us "because of the more precise data required by the legislation, EPA updated fuel economy data on the website."

And that "update" changed everything. Look: this list of 86 cars. When the program began, they were not eligible. Now they are! And this list of 78 cars that originally were eligible for the program, now are not!

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News"Could deals fall through?"

 Robert Okoniewski, Executive Vice President of the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association"Ah, absolutely, deals could fall through."

It's not the only bump in the road for the clunker program: in July, it almost ran out of money, till congress refueled it with two billion more dollars.

Now Mike and his Mom are working on a new deal with gives them less money for their clunker, while car dealers and clunker customers are clamoring for answers.

Robert Okoniewski, Executive Vice President of the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association"So there's a lot of good intentions, but very, very faulty implementation."

The feds heard the complaints, and backed off. So bottom line if you made your deal before they changed the numbers on July 24th, you're fine. The transaction will be honored. But if you once thought you car was NOT eligible, now it might be! So check our website for the current lists. 

(Copyright (c) 2009 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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