PT Cruiser for a buck? Of course there's a catch

The adage my dad used to tell me that "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is" looks like it applies here: In the news today, a suburban Chicago car dealer is selling a PT Cruiser for $1, if you buy a $40,000 luxury SUV.

The Cruisers that Frank Mancari is selling are used 2008 models with about 10,000 miles on them that usually retail for $10,000. The Chrysler Pacifica has a list price of more than $39,000. It's a great way to get people in the door as car sales drop around the country, but a little difficult to swallow when you do the math, as Steve Rhodes of the Beachwood Reporter did.

You're already down some cash by agreeing to the sticker price of the SUV, instead of any negotiated price. As Rhodes points out, maybe you could get the Cruiser for $8,000 and the SUV for $32,000 without the deal. With the deal, the two cars would cost $40,001 together. Not much of a deal so far.

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The deal was to have ended Monday after the five Pacificas were sold, but Mancari says he may extend it to other models.

Neither vehicle gets great gas mileage. The Pacifica gets about 15 mpg in the city while the PT Cruiser gets less than 20 miles per gallon in the city. With gas prices dropping, returning to the gas-hog days of the past with an SUV may look like a deal now. But wait until gas prices go up again, because you know they will.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com