By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- It is the end of the road for a popular program designed to spur car sales. While the government ended Cash for Clunkers on Monday evening, many Tulsa-area dealers slammed on the brakes over the weekend.
Several dealerships stopped accepting clunkers on Saturday to give them enough time to finish the paperwork. But, many say they still haven't seen a dime of the $3 billion set aside for the program.
"Well, it's been a great program. It's been great for the consumer. A little bit of a headache for us," said Jim Norton Toyota General Manager Mark St. John.
St. John says a minor pain compared to the choke-hold a slow economy had on the auto industry nine months ago. He says Cash for Clunkers doubled sales.
"It has sold a lot of cars. As you could see from looking on our lot, we're almost out of cars. That's a very good thing," said Jim Norton Toyota General Manager Mark St. John.
Nationally, car sales jumped 13% over last month.
"We had a big storage lot back there that was completely empty of new cars now it's full of clunkers," said Jim Norton Toyota General Manager Mark St. John.
Cash for Clunkers has been criticized for taking cars like a Mercury Mountaineer which is in fairly good shape off the road. But, Jim Norton Toyota has seen its fair share of clunkers that weren't worth the cash, like a Chevy Caprice with a blown out windshield and drooping headliner.
But, the lot full of clunkers slated for crushing is still full, because dealers haven't gotten the cash. Of the 225 clunkers collected, Jim Norton Toyota's only been paid for 26.
"That's better maybe than some because that's something. There's some guys that haven't been paid on any," said Jim Norton Toyota General Manager Mark St. John.
And, some question whether Cash for Clunkers really jump-started the auto industry or if it was just a temporary blip.
"It definitely stimulated sales. It stimulated some things. What it will do long term? That's kinda hard to say. But, at least it got inventories down. Everybody's got very low inventories now," said Jim Norton Toyota General Manager Mark St. John.
Mark St. John does say about half of the so-called clunkers could have been re-sold on his used car lot. But, a rising tide seems to have raised all ships. New car sales are up and so are sales for used cars.