Cash for Clunkers – What's Your Junk Car Worth?

The state of California is providing an extensive list of requirements for its vehicle retirement program. In this article, you will learn about the main qualifications needed to be approved to retire your junk car via both the California vehicle retirement program as well as a local alternative.

The vehicle retirement program, which is also referred to as the CAP or BAR Program, aims to promote clean air by the removal  of clunkers off of Californian streets.

Furthermore, through the CAP operated by BAR and run by the California state government, there are also local vehicle retirement programs in a few select areas via local air districts. Let’s first take a look at the criteria your vehicle needs to meet for the California vehicle retirement program and then secondly at other local programs you can use.

Guide for California Vehicle Retirement

california vehicle retirement
You must be able to drive your car at least 10 yards for it to qualify for the California vehicle retirement program. You are also responsible for getting it to the BAR-contracted dismantler for inspection.

california vehicle retirement

Your vehicle must not be undergoing a first-time registration, re-registration, or transferring of the title. It must be registered and titled to the one who is applying for the California vehicle retirement scheme.

california vehicle retirement
This requirement is for those who have a gross income level greater than 225% of the federal poverty level. If your car fails the smog test, you are above this income level, and you meet other requirements mentioned, then you qualify for the $1000 retirement program.

california vehicle retirementIf you fail the smog test, you still qualify if your gross income level is equal to or less than 225% of the federal poverty level. You must also get an inspection done (pass or fail) within 180 days of the application.

california vehicle retirement

There are a lot of hoops to jump through to qualify for the California vehicle retirement program, and then you have to wait quite a long time just for a response! Why is this?

The state of California’s car buyback program is under operations by the BAR (Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). So for your car to qualify, a BAR-certified dismantler has to first approve the car. This can take awhile, depending on how much work your BAR mechanic has ahead of your scheduled inspection.

For those who are wondering about when the 2021 retirement program will begin accepting applications, again, there’s good news! The 2021 California car retirement program CAP (Consumer Assistance Program), is accepting new applications again!

Please take note:  The processing time from submitting the application to the time of payment received is around 6 to 8 weeks. Unfortunately, this timeline makes the California Cash for Clunkers program very challenging for sellers with a junk car that needs to sell fast.

Please reference our short video guide to summarize criteria and process to participate:


Quick cash solution!

Are you looking for ways to sell off your junk car while you are in California? If you need quick payment or cash, there are local California car buyers who are interested in both operational and non-operational cars who are capable of paying you within 2 to 3 days.

This can be overwhelming and quite confusing at first. However, we try to organize and present the information below to answer all your queries and help you sort out your concerns about selling off your junk car. This will also help you select the best options for you.

California Vehicle Retirement Qualifications (1)

Local 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?

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

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?

  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?

Process from start to finish should take approximately 6 to 8 weeksWith Cash for Clunkers, you’ll receive payment within a few days, and sometimes even within 24-48 hours!

For more in depth information on the California Vehicle Retirement Qualifications, take a look at this video. Or if you’ve decided you’re interested in Cash for Clunkers and would like to know how to prepare before contacting us, take a look at the Checklist from Cash for Clunkers.

If Cash for Clunkers is the retirement program for you, feel free to use our instant quote tool or give us a call 24/7. We offer the best quote available in your area, but if you don’t like the quote, then you don’t have to take it!

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!

California Vehicle Retirement Qualifications (1)

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