The U.S. House approved the "cash for clunkers" legislation earlier today, paving the way for consumers to snag up to $4,500 for trading in their older vehicles for new, more fuel efficient transport.

The bill, which passed 298-119, drew overwhelming support from automakers, local business groups and dealers who claimed the passage could boost sales – further aiding GM and Chrysler's "reinvention" – during the economic downturn.

Although politicians and pundits are sure to weigh-in on the merits of the bill, the specifics appear clear: if your car gets 18 mpg or less and you trade in for a new vehicle the achieves at least 22 mpg, you receive a $3,500 voucher, or $4,500 if the mileage of the new vehicle is 10 mpg higher than your previous heap. SUV, pickup truck and minivan buyers are eligible for a $3,500 voucher if their vehicle gets at least two mpg higher than their trade-in and $4,500 if the vehicle gets five mpg more than their older model. The vehicle has to have been insured for the last year and there is no trade-in value beyond the voucher. The program is also available for leases. Dealers are required to provide proof that the vehicle (1984 MY or later) has been crushed or shredded, and the government estimates that around 25 million vehicles are eligible.

[Source: AP | Image Source: Theo Heimann/Getty]