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MAZDA: FAQs for Consumers “Car Allowance Rebate System”

June 30th, 2009

1.    What is the goal of the “CARS” program?

The Car Allowance Rebate System (“CARS”) provides incentives to owners of older, less fuel-efficient vehicles to trade them in and purchase new, more fuel-efficient ones. The program will benefit American consumers, stimulate showroom traffic and auto sales, and help to reduce fuel use and vehicle emissions. New vehicles are cleaner, more fuel efficient and have many safety technologies not available on older ones.

2.    How does the CARS program work?

An owner of a passenger car, minivan, SUV, or pick-up truck that gets an EPA combined 18 mpg or less can trade it in for a government incentive toward the purchase of a new vehicle. The amount of the incentive is either $3,500 or $4,500, depending on the mpg improvement of the new vehicle over the one it replaces.

3.    What is the current status of the CARS legislation?

As of June 18, 2009, the legislation has passed the U.S. Congress.  President Obama supports the program and will sign it into law within days.

4.    When will the program start?

Once the new law is signed by the President, a 30-day period is provided for the government to issue the program regulations.  We expect the program to begin in mid-to-late July. You should check with your local Mazda dealer to see when they can handle your transaction.

5.     How long will the program last?

The program will be in effect until October 31, 2009 or the initial $1 billion in federal funding runs out, whichever occurs earlier. It is uncertain whether Congress will approve additional funding to extend the program beyond October 31. If you are interested in taking advantage of this program, you are advised to do so quickly before the funding runs out.

6.    Is there an official government website for the CARS program?

The program is administered by an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which has launched a CARS website at  This is the only official site for CARS information.

7.    What new Mazda models are eligible for purchase with the government incentive?

A consumer will qualify for at least a $3,500 incentive, and in some cases $4,500, toward the purchase of the following new Mazda models. The size of the incentive depends on the improvement in fuel economy compared to the vehicle being replaced.
•    MAZDA3 i and s
•    MAZDA6 i
•    MX-5
•    MAZDA5  (Automatically gets $4,500 incentive)
•    CX-7
•    CX-9  (2WD)
•    Tribute
•    B2300 truck

8.    Does the customer need to register for the program or bring a voucher to the dealership?

The customer does not need a paper voucher and is not required to sign up or enroll in the program. Participating new car dealers will apply a credit, reducing the price paid at the time of purchase for an eligible new vehicle. The dealer will then obtain reimbursement from the government.

9.    What vehicles are eligible for trade-in under the CARS program?

The vehicle being traded in must be manufactured less than 25 years before the date of the transaction. Any vehicle manufactured in 1983 or earlier will not qualify. Some vehicles made in 1984 will qualify, depending on the date of manufacture. The month and year of manufacture appears on the safety certification label located on the frame or edge of the driver’s door in most vehicles. The trade-in vehicle must also have a combined (city/hwy.) fuel economy rating of 18 mpg or less.

10.    How can I tell if my current vehicle meets the fuel economy requirement for trade-in  (EPA combined 18 mpg or less)?

Consumers can check the combined fuel economy ratings of their older vehicles on  Click on “Compare Side by Side” and select a model year and vehicle make to find the Combined EPA label figures for a given model. The correct mpg number is the one listed as “Estimated New EPA mpg.” Your local Mazda dealer would be pleased to assist you in determining whether your vehicle is eligible for trade-in under the CARS program.

11.    Are there other restrictions, such as length of ownership?

The vehicle must be in drivable condition and have been continuously insured and registered to the same owner for at least one year. The customer needs to bring to a participating Mazda dealer the vehicle title as well as registration and insurance papers showing continuous registration and insurance for the past full year. These requirements will be included in the DOT regulations.

12.    Can any make of vehicle be traded in at a Mazda dealer? For example, can an owner trade-in a Chrysler minivan toward a new MAZDA5 or CX-7?

Yes. Any make of vehicle can be traded in at any participating Mazda dealer. The incentive amount will be applied as a down-payment or partial payment toward a new Mazda vehicle.

13.    What Mazda models are eligible for trade-in?

Many older Mazda MPVs, B3000 & B4000 trucks, RX-7s, 929s, Tributes (6-cyl., 4WD) and Navajos have combined fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg or less, making them eligible for the program.

14.    Does the consumer get the trade-in value of the vehicle in addition to the government incentive?

No. The government incentive is in lieu of the trade-in value. Consumers should choose whichever option benefits them the most.

15.    Is there a price cap on the new vehicles eligible for purchase?

Yes, the price cap on the vehicle is $45,000 (MSRP).

16.    Is the value of the incentive tax-free to the consumer?  Yes.

17.    Is there an income limit that disqualifies certain vehicle owners?  No.

18.    How may I find out which Mazda dealers are participating in the program?

While we expect most Mazda dealers to participate, it is an opt-in program for dealers. Participating dealers will be listed on the government website once the program is launched.  You can also call your local Mazda dealer to confirm whether they plan to participate.

19.    What are the fuel economy requirements for the new vehicle I can purchase with the incentive?

For Passenger Cars:

At least 22 mpg (combined) AND
4-9 mpg improvement over trade-in vehicle, $3,500
At least 10 mpg improvement over trade-in vehicle, $4,500

For SUVs, minivans and light-duty trucks (< 6,000 lbs.):

At least 18 mpg (combined) AND
2-4 mpg improvement over trade-in vehicle, $3,500
At least 5 mpg improvement over trade-in vehicle, $4,500

20.     May the incentive be used as the down payment on a new Mazda?  Yes.

21.    Are lease vehicles included in the program?

Vehicles may be leased using the incentive, but only if the lease term is for 5 or more years.

22.    Can I purchase a used vehicle with the CARS incentive?

No, only new vehicles are eligible for purchase or lease with the incentive.

23.     How many vehicles will be sold under the program?

The $1 billion in funding provided by Congress will cover about 250,000 vehicles.

24.    What happens to the old vehicle once the dealer transfers it to a dismantler or recycler?

The vehicle will be crushed or dismantled and not re-sold as a vehicle to a consumer.

25.     Can I still qualify for other rebates and discounts?

Yes, in addition to the government incentive, you are still eligible for any other rebate or discount advertised by the dealer or offered by the manufacturer.

26.     Can I trade-in two clunkers and combine two CARS incentives toward the purchase of a new Mazda?

No. Only one incentive may be applied toward the purchase of a single vehicle.

27.    Can an individual obtain more than one CARS incentive?

No, each individual and each trade-in vehicle is eligible for only one incentive under this program.


Please contact your local Mazda dealer with any questions and to take advantage of the CARS incentives.

Updated: 6/24/09


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