What Is The California Vehicle Retirement Program

More and more over the last several decades, California has made its way to the forefront of environmental protection programs and standards in the United States. It has been doing its bit to keep the country safe and clean while ensuring that residents with a low household income are protected.

One example of their initiatives is the California vehicle retirement program. 

So, what is the California vehicle retirement program? Well, this system offers incentives for vehicle owners to either repair or retire vehicles that are known to cause higher pollution. Let’s take a closer look. 

What is the California Vehicle Retirement Program?

If you live in California and own an older vehicle or a higher polluting vehicle, California will pay you to repair or retire it. 

There are several eligibility requirements vehicle owners must meet, and not all vehicles or drivers will qualify. To give you a better understanding of how the program works, let’s look at the repair and the retirement programs individually. 

California Financial Assistance for Vehicle Repair

Every other year, California vehicles are required to undergo a Smog Check inspection. Should your vehicle fail, you may be eligible for financial aid to assist with repairs. If your car is newer than 1996, California may offer you up to $1,200. If your car was made in 1976 through 1995, you may be eligible for up to $900. 

Here are the eligibility requirements for the repair program:

  • Only the registered owner and title holder of the vehicle may apply for assistance. 
  • This must be the first time you’ve received assistance for the vehicle you’re applying for.
  • You are responsible for a co-payment for your repairs: either 20% of the total repair cost or the total cost minus the dollar amount of the grant. This will vary depending upon the cost of repairs and the year your vehicle was built. 
  • Your household income must fall below 225% of the Federal poverty level.
  • Your vehicle must have a clean title, be currently registered to an individual, and not have a tampered emissions control system. 
  • The car must have failed its Smog Check inspection. 

If any of those conditions have not been met, you are not eligible for the program. 

California Vehicle Retirement

If you are ready to retire your vehicle, the Bureau of Automotive Repair may offer you an incentive to get your higher-polluting car off the road. Again, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, and you must be the registered owner of the vehicle. 

If your income is below 225% of the Federal poverty level, the state of California may offer a $1,500 incentive to retire your car. If your income falls above that requirement, you may be offered $1,000. 

As with the repair program, your car must have failed its Smog Check. Junked cars are not eligible, as they’re already considered retired by the state of California. There are restrictions as to the number of cars you may retire in a twelve-month period as well. 

You may apply for the program online. Once you’re approved, you may bring your vehicle to a Bureau of Automotive Repair contractor where it will be dismantled. All registered owners must be present or provide a DMV Power of Attorney to the dismantler. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re considering applying for the California vehicle retirement program, you may still have questions. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about this incentive. 

Can I Retire A Car That Won’t Start?

In order to be eligible for the retirement program, all cars must be drivable for at least ten yards without external assistance. In most cases, retiring vehicles are drivable. Your car must start on its own and still have:

  • All doors
  • A hood
  • A dashboard
  • A windshield
  • A driver’s seat
  • One bumper
  • One headlight
  • One tail light
  • One brake light
  • One side window glass

How Long Does It Take To Receive My Check?

Once you apply for the California vehicle retirement program, expect four to six weeks for your vehicle to be approved. You may need to submit additional documentation, such as proof of income. 

After that time, you will receive a letter of eligibility. Bring your vehicle, your letter, and other documentation to the dismantler. A technician will inspect your vehicle and issue a check to the registered vehicle owner.

What May Cause Me To Be Declined For This Incentive?

If you fail to meet any of the criteria listed above, your eligibility may be denied. Furthermore, should the program lack funds, you may be asked to reapply at a later time. Be sure to review the eligibility requirements carefully to avoid processing delays and errant denials.