Cash for Clunkers

Cash for Clunkers
Tara Hornor
Written byTara HornorUpdated - December 19, 2023
Tara Hornor
Tara Hornor
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Tara Hornor is an experienced writer and entrepreneur with over two decades of experien... | See full bio

John Rush
Edited and Fact-Checked byJohn RushEditor
John Rush
John Rush
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With over four decades of experience, John Rush is a highly accomplished business owner... | See full bio

California Vehicle Retirement Program

If you are from California, then you have likely heard of the California Vehicle Retirement Program. This is unofficially referred to as “Cash for Clunkers”. It is under the administration of the BAR (Bureau of Automotive Repair) which allocates incentives to retiring unwanted, old, or junk vehicles across the state.

California Vehicle Retirement Program (1)

California Vehicle Retirement Program 

The State of California has made a vehicle retirement scheme which will is also known as BAR ((Bureau of Automotive Repair) and CAP (Consumer Assistance Program). This is done by California suggesting to buy the clunkers. This program aims to promote clean air by the removal of run-down and rotting vehicles still operational in California.

The Vehicle Buy Back Program will offer this scheme to both low- and above-income vehicle owners with a flat rate ranging from $1500 and $1000 correspondingly. This California Vehicle Retirement program is geared towards the improvement of the air quality in California.

Basically, the CAP (Consumer Assistance Program) is available in several locations across California. In addition to this California vehicle retirement program operated by BAR and run by the state government, there are similarly available to local vehicle retirement programs in a few chosen areas through local air districts.

California Vehicle Retirement Process

Basically, the CAP (Consumer Assistance Program) is available in several locations across California. In addition to this California car retirement program operated by BAR and run by the state government, there are similarly available to local vehicle retirement programs in a few chosen areas through local air districts.

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California Vehicle Retirement Requirements

If you are looking into saying goodbye to your old car, you will need to make sure that you and your car meets the following requirements to qualify for the California vehicle retirement or BAR program:

Owner requirements

  • Make sure you are the registered owner of the vehicle. It must be issued and registered to a person, not a firm or business, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
  • The applicant must have a gross income of less than or equivalent to 225% of the Federal poverty level.
  • You must not have retired another vehicle as a sole owner OR must not have retired more than 2 vehicles as a joint owner within the past 12 months.

Vehicle Requirements for the Auto Retirement Program

  • The vehicle must be a passenger type. This can be an SUV, truck, or van with a gross weight of not exceeding 10,000 pounds
  • For you to qualify for the California Vehicle Retirement Program or CAP, you should make sure that the car is functioning well. One important thing to remember: the car must be able to work without a jump or without the use of external boost batteries and starting fluids.
  • The vehicle must have an updated registration with the DMV, with a complete and valid unexpired registration sticker, or settled all fees to the DMV and have registered within 120 days or more.
  • The vehicle must be registered continuously for the past 2 years and must not have expired for more than 120 days. This comes with an exception – the car must have been used in California and is not registered in any country or state.

For further information and detail please reference our video guide:

Reasons to use the program

If you and your car qualify for the vehicle retirement program, what are some reasons to use it? Why exactly has California put this program into place? Beside just the cash incentive, below are some reasons why you might be interested in taking part. If you don’t qualify, skip down to the next section to see other options for your junk car, including other cash incentives.

Better for the environment

The most noticeable and beneficial reason to engage in a vehicle retirement program is to prevent polluting the environment. California’s most significant problem is pollution due to dirty exhausts coming from outdated cars.

Most newer cars are equipped with an air filtration system that is capable of removing pollutants, bacteria, and contaminants. And even if you do switch to an older model, it still is more likely to produce cleaner exhaust fumes do to newer systems.

The application is fast and easy

Applying for the Vehicle Retirement Program in California is fairly straightforward. Keep in mind that no fees are involved so there is nothing to really lose when you engage in this program.

To start, you simply need to review the qualification details, fill out an online application, and submit the required documents. It will then take a few weeks to know about the results of your application.

Available info

At Cash for Clunkers, we came up with a guide to help you understand this type of program for those owners of old or outdated vehicles. You can check out this article from our blog which provides in-depth information about this opportunity.

California Vehicle Retirement Options other than BAR

If you don’t qualify for the California vehicle retirement program or need cash faster than the state can provide, you do have another option. Through Cash for Clunkers, you can sell your car for cash with fewer requirements than California has, and you get your cash in just a couple of days, sometimes in 24-48 hours!

Don’t live in the state of California? No problem! Cash for Clunkers puts you in touch with local buyers. Not only that, but we send a tow truck to you at no extra cost and give you the cash right away upon pick up! So even cars that no longer run qualify.

Cash for Clunkers provides a no-obligation, instant quote immediately. If you decide to take our offer (a top offer, by the way), we have a checklist for pre-selling requirements to help.

California Vehicle Retirement Program (4)

Cash for Clunkers also offers reliable services related to buying used or junk cars. Should you be interested in used cars and making money from it, please visit, call now, or get an instant quote from Cash for Clunkers for more information.

Private vs. BAR program?

To help you ensure for which program your car is eligible – and which program is right for you – you can follow the guidelines below:

Step 1: Is your car still operating?

YES

NO

To sell your car to the state, you must be able to drive it to a local dismantler

Since your car is not eligible for BAR, please click here for information on selling to a local car buyer via the private California cash for clunker program

Step 2: Is your car currently registered with the state of California?

YES

NO

To be eligible for BAR, your car must be registered in California.

With a local program like Cash for Clunkers, you can sell your car in any state. Our helpful representatives will get you in touch with someone in your area.

Step 3: Did your car fail a smog test?

YES

NO

  1. You Failed a Smog Test and want to sell your car via BAR.
  2. You Failed a Smog Test are considered low income and want to repair your emission.
  1. You Passed a Smog Test but are considered low income and want to sell your car via BAR.
  2. You live in certain Air Districts and have an older car (usually 1995 and older) and want to retire your car.
  3. Your car is not eligible for the BAR program and you may want to speak with a local car buyer that will be interested in buying your car via the private California cash for clunkers option.
  4. Your car may be worth more than the BAR program is offering and you want to speak with a local buyer.

Step 4: Do you have time to wait for your cash?

YES

NO

Process from start to finish should take approximately 6 to 8 weeks

With Cash for Clunkers, you’ll receive payment within a few days, and sometimes even within 24-48 hours!


If you do decide to take the quote, we help you with all the steps needed…and take care of the harder ones, like scheduling and paying for a tow truck to come pick up your junk car. When the tow truck arrives, you get cash in hand on the spot!

Sound good to you? Then contact us today for your free, no-obligation quote!

We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through the provided links.

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