Cash for Clunkers, the popular government-backed car-buying incentive program, is set to end Monday night at 8 p.m.
Car dealers hope the sales momentum the program created lasts through the Fall.
Over the weekend, car dealerships across the country experienced an influx of interested potential customers as consumers tried to take advantage of last minute deals before the Clunkers program ended.
"I just ran right over here to get the last minute deal," said Dominick Delpozzo, a Florida car buyer.
By all accounts, the program has been wildly successful, bringing in more than $2 billion in rebates.
"What it's done is it's created a lot of excitement," said Tammy Darvish, vice president of Darcars Auto Group in Silver Spring, Md. "(There was) a lot of energy. A lot of customers (were) coming out."
But like many government programs, the auto buying incentive program has been a nightmare of red tape. Officials were ill-prepared for the massive paperwork requirements, and the government has been slow to reimburse cash-strapped dealers. Just four out of ten dealers have been reimbursed so far -- or $5.8 million tied up in government IOUs. Many dealers are worried the government may leave them holding the tab.
Many dealerships decided to end the clunker trade-in program this weekend and were scheduled to spend Monday filing the necessary paperwork.
"It takes over a half an hour to process every deal so it's very time-consuming," said Brad Whippo, general manager of Russ Darrow Mazda in Milwaukee, Wis.
Meanwhile, a new government plan will soon introduce another Clunkers-type program known as Cash for Appliances. No trade-ins will be required. The government will simply give rebate checks to covered items like refrigerators, dishwashers, furnances and air conditioners.