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Car Recycling Options - Get Money for Old Cars, or Donate Your Car

A couple of options that are increasing in popularity are a car retirement program and donating your car. Depending on where you live and what’s wrong with your car, it can be a great way to get money for old cars.

What are the differences between the two? And is there a better option if you aren’t eligible for the DMV junk car program to retire your ride?

Requirements for California’s Car Retirement Program

There’s one very important criteria that eliminates much of the nation from the car retirement program in California: your car has to be registered in California. It must currently be registered in the state without any lapses of coverage for 120 days or more.

But that’s not all, folks. There’s much more to it before you can get cash for old cars in these parts.

Californias Car Retirement Program

Your Financial Status

There are two car retirement options available. To know how to retire a car the right way, you need to choose the right route.

Option 1 requires that your car fails a Smog Check in the state. The test can’t be cancelled nor can it be in test mode or manual mode. In option one, you can qualify to sell car to government for $1500 if your household income is 225% of the poverty level or less. In Option 1, you can still receive $1000 for your old car if you make more than that income level.

Option 2 offers $1500 for the DMV junk car program even if your car passes the car Smog Check. The key is that you need to be at or below the same household income level as Option 1, and the smog inspection must have been completed within the past 180 days.

Eligible Car Problems

The big factor for California’s Car Retirement Program is a failed smog check, aside from Option 2. The whole reason for the program is to remove cars that pollute the state more than they should. That can mean a catalytic converter failure, a Check Engine light on, an EGR system fault, or something similar.

Just to be clear, your car is allowed to have other problems with it too, so long as it still runs on its own and can drive at least a short distance. But the intent is to get polluting vehicles off the road.

Registration Issues

If you say, “I want to sell my car to DMV,” then you’re probably aware that your car has to be registered. Not only does it have to be registered, but it has to be in California for the past two years. That’s to prevent out-of-state people from taking advantage of the system and scrapping their cars in California instead of their home state.

What’s Not Allowed

Unlike car recycling, your car has to be in a certain condition to get cash for old cars in the retirement program. According to the rules, your car must have its doors, hood lid, dashboard, windshield, at last one side window, the driver’s seat, at least one bumper, the exhaust system, all side panels, and at least one headlight, one taillight, and one brake light. Unfortunately, for many junk cars, these criteria rule them out.

But there’s more. The car also has to start on its own without a boost and be driven to a BAR-contracted junkyard. There can’t be body or suspension damage that prevent it from driving. And, of course, the pedals have to work.


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Here’s the Hitch

Your car can meet all the criteria for the car retirement program, only to find out that you can’t get cash for it. Why? Because California only pays out so much per year for the program. If there’s no money left in it when you want to retire your ride, you’ll have to wait to sell your old car to the state until the following year.

How Long Different Car Makes Last
Toyotas From 200,000 to 250,000 miles
Hondas About 200,000 miles to 300,000 miles
Fords Roughly 200,000 miles
RAM between 200,000 and 250,000 miles
Most Cars Roughly 150,000 Miles or 12 Years

What You Need to Donate Your Car

Maybe a better car recycling program to look into is to donate your car. There are plenty of charities and non-profit organizations that use car donations to fundraise for their cause. It’s easy to use, and you can trust that your donation is doing some good.

1000 For Your Old CarBut financially, there are major differences. Donating your car will result in a tax receipt that can help you during tax time. However, you might not get cash in hand right now, when you need it most. Isn’t that why you’re trying to get rid of your junk car anyway?

Plus, there are other rules to follow for car donations too. You’ll only get a tax receipt for a fair value, and that might not amount to much at all. It’s not possible to donate a car without a title in hand either.

How to Get Cash for Junk Cars

If you don’t qualify for the car retirement program in California and your state doesn’t operate a similar program, and if donating your car isn’t for you, then check out CarBrain.

With CarBrain, you can sell your car in as-is condition without getting up from your La-Z-Boy armchair. Complete a request for an online quote and you’ll get a cash offer in around 90 seconds. Once you accept the offer, you don’t need to bring your car to the junkyard, and it doesn’t even have to drive. We’ll get it picked up from you, free of charge, and we’ll even take care of the title transfer.

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