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Sacramento Wants You To Get A Clean-Air Car, And They'll Pay You For Your Old Clunker

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Have an old car you want to get rid of and want to get paid to do it?

The state wants to give you cash to get your hunk of junk off the streets for good. They want to get you into an energy-efficient car instead.

The program is run through the Air Quality Management District and is already being tried out in the Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley. It has about $5 million to dole out to approximately 400 people.

Their goal is to get gas guzzlers off the road. But the catch? Your car has to be functioning and at least 15 years old. According to the DMV, nine million cars that drive on California roads are 15 years or older.

Alberto Ayala with the Sacramento Metro Air District said "Clean Cars 4 All" is designed for lower-income families.

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The program works like this: turn in your gas guzzler and either get cash up to $9,500, to use toward a new or nearly new zero-emission vehicle. Or you can opt for a cash card worth up to $7,500 that can be used toward public or private transportation options.

There are other qualifications as well. You have to have a valid California drivers license, live in the county, own a car that is at least 15 years old, meet the federal low-income criteria, and give up your car.

Federal Low-Income Criteria

(credit: US Federal Reserve)

Ayala said part of the $5 million budget comes from the "cap and trade" fund. It's a program that started five years ago, fining the big polluter companies and manufacturers across the state.

"If you're a polluter in the state, you have to pay to pollute. The fees that are generating revenues from paying to pollute are helping us benefit our residents in our community," Ayala said.

The state program is also funded through taxpayer dollars.

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Since it's your money helping fund the program, CBS13 asked what happens if you take the cash option. Ayala said there are boundary conditions on the Visa card. They only work on alternative transportation options like Uber or Lyft or public transit.

If you took the cash option, you can't use it to go to the store or the movies, but if it's a qualified transportation option, then the card will be valid.

The old cars that are turned in are retired and sent to the scrap yard.

If you're interested in the program you can call (916) 874-4893 or visit the Sacramento Metro Air Quality Management District Website. 

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