The government's change, which allows eligible vehicles to be ordered from the factory as well as purchased off dealership lots, creates fresh dilemmas for dealers.
One issue, Wood says, is the requirement that the clunker be collected from the customer in order to submit the deal for approval. Up to now, deals have been submitted only after the customer took the new car home. But the change potentially leaves customers stranded without transportation for weeks, he said.
Also, the government requires a vehicle identification number to submit a clunker deal for payment. But it can take days or weeks to obtain a VIN on a new order, adding another level of complexity to an already tangled process.
Last week dealers also expressed concern that clunkers money would run out by the time they are able to submit a new order for approval.
Earl Stewart, a Toyota dealer in North Palm Beach, Fla., says the decision to make more cars available will enable him to sell vehicles en route to his dealership.
He usually gets a VIN 10 or 12 days before a vehicle arrives at his dealership. For vehicles imported from Japan, the identification number lands even earlier, as much as a month before the car.
The new rule "would be a big help especially for people getting vehicles from overseas," Stewart said.
Despite that help, reimbursement is Stewart's biggest concern. He hasn't received payment for any of his 155 clunker deals, valued at $672,000.
"Not a single dime," he said Friday. "It is by far the biggest issue."
As of early Friday, dealers had submitted 358,851 clunkers transactions worth $1.5 billion to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's online system. But only a tiny fraction has been paid, NADA and some state dealer associations said.
A North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association survey found that its members have been paid for just 1.7 percent of submitted transactions and are waiting for $68 million in reimbursements. A similar survey by the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association showed 2.8 percent of claims were paid.