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I Want Cash For My Clunker — How Do I Get It?

If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to sell your clunker for cash, CarBrain’s got you covered. We specialize in buying less-than-perfect cars for fair market prices. You could get $1,000 or more for your vehicle in any condition in just 24 to 48 hours.

Unlike the federal government, our cash for clunkers program has no deadline and no limits. No matter what time of year or what kind of car you have, we can make an offer for it lightning fast. There’s no payout limits, and we include FREE towing with all our offers — we’ll come to you, so you don’t have to worry about transportation.

There’s no catch, there’s no fees and there’s no fuss. Get an offer from CarBrain and get cash for cars in any condition today.

What is The Cash for Clunkers Program?

First question: what is cash for clunkers? The Cash for Clunkers program was a federal financial program that was launched in 2009 to incentivize individuals to trade in cars with lower mileage efficiency for cars with higher MPG rates. 

The program was developed as part of an effort by the U.S. government to save the automotive industry during the Great Recession.

In order to motivate consumers to buy more vehicles and get older, more dangerous cars off the road, the United States essentially offered a government trade-in program: retire your old vehicle and you’ll get $1,000 or more in cash that you could put towards the purchase of a newer, safer car.

What Is A Clunker Car?

A clunker is a common phrase for an old, worn-down vehicle. Originally popularized in the 1930s to refer to old equipment, it became widely associated with older vehicles specifically in the following decades.

The Cash For Clunkers government program specifically defined “clunker” as a drivable vehicle, less than 25 years of age, with a fuel efficiency of less than 18 mpg.

The program was a runaway success in some areas — originally provided $1 billion in funding, Congress quickly needed to increase the budget by an additional $2 billion due to overwhelming demand.

1000 for Your Old Car

However, in other ways, the clunker trade-in program ended up being a disappointment: evidence suggests the auto industry was ultimately harmed by the program, which caused a brief surge in car purchases in the short term but lowered them in the long term.

Additionally, some studies suggest the car purchases that did take place were cheaper than they would have been without the car buy back program, with people incentivized to spend only the available cash they received for their old vehicles, rather than what they typically would have budgeted for a new car.

The federal junk car program came to an end in Nov. 2009 after enabling the sale of nearly 700,000 vehicles.

Is The Cash For Clunkers Government Program Coming Back?

There is still little information about whether the federal government will launch a new Cash for Clunkers 2024 program. However, the Biden administration made big promises at the Climate Summit meeting in Glasgow in 2021, including promises to significantly reduce emissions, and set a goal for half of all newly purchased passenger vehicles to be electric by 2030.

If that’s the goal, a Cash for Clunkers 2024 program may be the method chosen to encourage Americans to switch from gas-guzzlers to electric or hybrid vehicles. Like the original program, it could encourage car owners to make the switch by offering a hefty tax benefit for individuals who sell their gas vehicles that fit certain criteria and trade them in for electric or hybrid models.

So far, President Biden’s Cash for Clunkers program proposal hasn’t come yet, but that doesn’t mean there’s no future for the Cash for Clunkers program.

Not ready to make the switch to electric? You can still trade in your clunkers for cash, no matter what type of car it is or what condition it’s in by getting an offer with CarBrain.

Cash for Cars 2024

Although the federal government chose not to move forward with a Cash for cars 2024 program.

Currently, there are no talks to bring back the program. However, the Biden administration has made big promises at the Climate Summit meeting in Glasgow, including promises to significantly reduce emissions. It’s possible that a shift to electric vehicles will be part of that plan.

If so, the government may be prepared to roll out a Cash for Cars 2024 program to encourage Americans to switch from gas-guzzlers to electric or hybrid vehicles.

Not ready to make the switch to electric? You can still trade in your cars for cash, no matter what type of car it is or what condition it’s in by getting an offer with CarBrain.


Our expert evaluators can help you get an accurate estimate for your car's value, FAST!

Cash for Clunkers in California

The federal government wasn’t the only government that launched a Cash for Clunkers program. If you’re in California, you still have the option to sell your car to the state and between $1,000 and $1,500 for it under the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) vehicle retirement option. However, there are some restrictions and caveats.

Criteria For California’s Cash For Clunkers 2024 Program

To utilize the California clunker program, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • You must be a California resident. Because this is a state-run program, it is not available to car owners outside of the Golden state.

  • Your car must have failed a smog test. The purpose of the CAP vehicle retirement option is to get vehicles with failing smog test ratings off the road. Newer vehicles that pass the smog test are not eligible.

  • There can’t be missing parts. Unlike other programs where your car’s condition didn’t matter, your car has to be almost completely whole. So that means parting out your car beforehand isn't an option.

  • You have to drive your car to the junkyard. Your car has to make it on its own power to the authorized facility. No towing, pushing, or pulling allowed.

  • It has to start on its own power. It can’t need a boost or a push start – turn the key and go, otherwise it’s a no-go for the Cash for Clunkers money.

Car Buy Back Program

How Much Does Cash For Clunkers Pay?

If your car is eligible for the program, you can get cash for your scrap car. But how much? It depends on your income level.

The base amount for the Cash for Clunkers 2024 program is $1,000. You’ll get at least $1,000 for your old car if it meets eligibility criteria. But if your income level is below a certain threshold – 225 percent of the poverty level – then you could get even more for it. For people whose income is below the threshold, $1,500 is how much you’ll get for your car.

Keep in mind that when the money runs out, Cash for Clunkers stops. That means your car might qualify but you don’t get any cash because the fund’s coffers are empty.

Will The Government Buy My Junk Car?

If you live in California and your vehicle fails to pass the smog check, you can still utilize the government Cash for Clunkers California program. However, if you live outside of the state, your options might be limited. For instance, there is no Cash for Clunkers in Utah, Florida, Texas or any other states currently operating.

How To Find Cash For Clunkers Near Me

If you’re not a California resident and you don’t want to wait to see if President Biden’s administration will launch a Cash for Clunkers program, online companies such as do purchase clunkers and junkers for cash on a regular basis. We are able to pick up your vehicle (for free) in 24-48 hours. You’ll receive payment in the form of a check that is as good as cash.

We pay on the spot and do not haggle or adjust our offer last minute. As long as all of the details you entered on our website are accurate, the transaction should happen very smoothly.

Utah Cash For Clunkers

Legislation regarding the Utah Cash For Clunkers program has been introduced in an effort to positively impact the air quality in the state. House Bill 176, introduced in 2020, would allow car owners with vehicles built before 2003 to receive up to $5,500 toward the purchase of a new low or zero-emission vehicle. The Bill has yet to be passed, but continues to be a point of interest for Utah and its climate issues.

The Other Way To Get Cash For Clunkers

So what do you do if you don’t live in California? And what if your car hasn’t failed its smog test? Or what about cars that aren’t in any condition to drive? You can still get good money for your car; no peddle or hassle is needed.

CarBrain buys cars in any condition. Regardless of your location in the United States or the condition of your car, we’ll buy it — we always have a Cash 4 Clunkers program running!

Our offers always include FREE towing and FREE title transfer — you won’t have to pay any DMV fees to sell us your car. We’ll even walk you through how to complete the transfer with the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Whether you have a car that’s been in an accident, it’s been flooded or hailed on, it has electrical or mechanical issues, it doesn’t look good anymore, or it’s rusting away, we’ll buy it for cash.

Simply call or click to receive a fast and accurate quote. There’s no obligation at all. If the offer looks good to you, simply accept it. You can schedule a pick up fast, typically within 24 to 48 hours; the money will be in your hands just as quickly too!

You have nothing to lose by requesting an offer from CarBrain today The best part is, unlike government programs, we aren’t going anywhere — we’ll buy your car in 2024 and beyond!

Clunkers For Junkers We Pay Cash For

CarBrain isn’t picky when it comes to paying cash for clunkers. We’ll happily make an offer for any of the following makes:

No matter what year, make or model you have, CarBrain is happy to make an offer for it in 90 seconds. Find out what your clunker is worth today and get paid in 24-48 hours.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Cash Can You Get From Cash For Clunkers?

The California Cash for Clunkers program can pay drivers up to $1,500 for a retired car, depending on their income level. In other states, the base amount is $1000 but, depending on your income level, you can receive more.

What Are Dealer Buy Back Programs?

Vehicle buy back programs are similar in nature to the cash for clunkers initiative. The primary difference is that they’re run by private dealerships, as opposed to being sponsored by the government.

There are also online companies that buy vehicles that are no longer operational or cars that are older in nature (colloquially referred to as “junk cars”).

What Cars Qualify For Cash For Clunkers?

For the original federal cash for clunkers program, vehicles needed to be less than 25 years old, drivable, and have a fuel efficiency of less than 18 miles per gallon. For the California CAP retirement program, vehicles must be drivable, intact and have failed the smog test.

Is The Cash For Clunkers Program Still Active?

The original federal program to get cash for your clunker ended in 2009. However, it was restarted in 2021. The California Vehicle Retirement Program is ongoing.

What Are The Car Retirement Requirements?

While it was operating, the federal program required you to replace the vehicle you were retiring with a newer, fuel-efficient vehicle. The California CAP retirement program requires you to be a California resident, and to sell your car to a BAR-contracted dismantler site.

What Qualifies As A “Clunker?”

To qualify for the federal cash for clunkers program, a traded-in car had to be less than 25 years old, have an EPA-rated fuel efficiency of less than 18 miles per hour, be in drivable condition, and be scrapped.

Is CarBrain A Legit Way To Sell My Car?

Yes! CarBrain has been around since 2007, paying for all less-than-perfect cars at fair market rates. You can read our reviews to find out why we’re the best place to sell your vehicle today — we’re fast, easy, convenient and reliable.

With our service, there’s no need to waste your time peddling your car online or hunting down offers from junkyards one by one.

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