Have you experienced the crushing disappointment of arriving at your local dealer all ready to plunk down some hard earned income for a new car thanks to the government's Cash for Clunkers program, only to find out that your trade-in, which you thought was a clunker, really isn't? Chances are you have, as only 10-15% of car owners actually qualify for C4C.

A group of 40 privately funded car and truck dealers from around the country have banded together to pick up the government's slack and service all of those car owners who aren't eligible for C4C. And unlike the government's program, their definition of a "clunker" covers pretty much anything.

They call it the Automotive Stimulus Program, and will basically give you a trade-in credit ranging anywhere from $500 to a government-matching $4,500. Your particular rebate will vary depending on the value of your trade-in and how much more fuel efficient your new car is, but Kicking Tires reports that a 2 mpg improvement between your old and new car should net you a 10% bonus on your trade-in, while a 5 mpg bump earns a 20% bump. So if you're trade-in is worth $10,000 and the new car you purchase is 5 mpg more efficient, you'll receive a credit of $2,000 on top of your trade-in value. Even better, the Stimulus Plan lets you choose leasing or buying a certified pre-owned vehicles in addition to buying a brand new car.

The rules are pretty simple (at least simpler than Uncle Sam's): Your trade-in vehicle must be a 2006 model or older, in operating condition, registered in your name for at least six months and the new car has to be at least 2 mpg more efficient. That's it. And the good thing, at least from our car compassionate perspective, is that your trade-in won't be destroyed, but rather resold on the dealer's used car lot.

[Source: Automotive Stimulus Plan via Kicking Tires]

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