Voluntary Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Programs - FAQs

This page last reviewed May 23, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions


Voluntary accelerated vehicle retirement or VAVR programs have been operating in California since the 1990's. VAVR programs are sometimes referred to as car scrappage or vehicle buy back programs and are designed to provide incentives, including monetary payments, to owners of older, more polluting vehicles to voluntarily retire their vehicles. VAVR programs are optional for local air districts who administer VAVR programs. Not all air districts administer VAVR programs. VAVR programs are operated by private businesses contracted to local air districts. In most cases, owners interested in retiring their vehicles contact the enterprise operator directly. The goal of the program is to reduce mobile source ozone-forming emissions by encouraging the accelerated retirement of the older more polluting vehicles so that newer, cleaner vehicles can be put into use sooner than would occur naturally. VAVR programs are one of many components of the State Implementation Plan or SIP, California's comprehensive strategy to achieve the federal ozone standard throughout the state.


1.  What vehicle retirement programs are available?

2.  Does my vehicle qualify for CAP?

3.  Who do I contact to determine if my vehicle qualifies for a VAVR program?

4.  What if my vehicle FAILED the last Smog Check?

5.  Does the Air Resources Board administer car scrappage or vehicle buy back programs?

1. What vehicle retirement programs are available?

There are both State and local vehicle retirement programs available. The State program is available throughout California while the local programs are available only in areas where a local air district has established a program.
At the State level, California’s updated Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) is administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and provides $1,000 per vehicle and $1,500 for low-income consumers for unwanted vehicles that have either FAILED or PASSED their last Smog Check Test and that meet certain eligibility guidelines.
Local voluntary accelerated vehicle retirement (VAVR) programs are available for vehicles that have PASSED their most recent Smog Check or are not subject to the Smog Check requirement.

2. Does my vehicle qualify for CAP?

To qualify for CAP, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • You must be the registered owner and not have retired a vehicle (a joint owner must not have retired two vehicles) through CAP within the last 12 months.
  • The vehicle must not be undergoing an initial registration in California.
  • The vehicle must not be registered to a business, fleet or non-profit organization.
  • The vehicle shall have a gross vehicle weight rating of no more than 10,000 pounds including a passenger vehicle, truck, sports utility vehicle (SUV) or van.

The vehicle must also meet certain Vehicle Equipment Requirements and Vehicle Operational Requirements

Vehicle Equipment Requirements

  • All doors
  • Hood lid
  • Dashboard
  • Windshield
  • At least one side window glass
  • Driver’s seat
  • At least one bumper
  • Exhaust system
  • All side and /or quarter panels
  • At least one headlight, one taillight, and one brake light

Vehicle Operational Requirements

  • Vehicle must be driven to a CAP-contracted dismantler under its own power.
  • Vehicle engine starts readily through ordinary means without the use of starting fluids or external boost batteries.
  • Vehicle drivability is not affected by any body, steering, or suspension damage.
  • Vehicle is able to drive forward a minimum distance of 10 yards under its own power.
  • Interior pedals are operational.

3. Who do I contact to determine if my vehicle qualifies for a VAVR program?

VAVR programs are administered by local air districts. Your vehicle must have been registered in that district for at least the last two years. As the administration of a VAVR program is entirely optional for your local air district, not all districts administer VAVR programs.
If your vehicle PASSED the last Smog Check or your vehicle is not subject to the Smog Check requirement, check the ARB's VAVR website to see if your local air district is offering a VAVR program.

4. What if my vehicle FAILED the last Smog Check?

If your vehicle FAILED the last Smog Check, the Bureau of Automotive Repair's (BAR) Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) may pay up to $1,000 per vehicle and $1,500 for low-income consumers to retire your qualified vehicle.  For more information, visit BAR’s Consumer Assistance Program website.  You can also obtain a copy of the application, or call BAR at (866) 272-9642 for more information.

Vehicles that have FAILED their last Smog Check or are on a Smog Check repair cost waiver or economic hardship extension are not eligible for VAVR programs.

5. Does the Air Resources Board administer car scrappage or vehicle buy back programs?

No. VAVR programs are administered by local air districts. The administration of VAVR programs is entirely optional for each air district.  The Air Resources Board does not administer VAVR programs. Check the ARB's VAVR website to see if your local air district is offering a VAVR program.


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