Vehicle Retirement Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Program Overview

1.1 What is the Consumer Assistance Program?

The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) is responsible for administering the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP). CAP is designed to help improve California's air quality by reducing emissions through the repair and retirement of high polluting vehicles.

1.2 What is the financial incentive for retiring my qualified vehicle?

CAP offers consumers who meet eligibility requirements an incentive of either $1,000 or $1,500 to voluntarily retire their operational vehicle. To retire a vehicle for $1,500, the applicant must meet income eligibility requirements and provide documentation verifying their current household income.

1.3 Can I participate at any time?

Consumers can apply to retire a vehicle through CAP at any time. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Participation is limited to the availability of funds each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

2. Application Process

2.1 What are the eligibility requirements to retire my vehicle through CAP?

Your ability to retire a vehicle through CAP depends on meeting eligibility requirements at the time you submit your application to BAR.

2.2 How can I retire my vehicle through CAP?

You must first complete and submit an application either by mail or online.

2.3 I don’t have access to the internet. How can I obtain an application?

To have an application mailed to you, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs, Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210.

2.4 How long will it take to process my application?

Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Please allow up to four weeks to process an application.

2.5 I’m not sure if my vehicle is eligible for retirement under CAP. Can I contact BAR to determine my eligibility before applying?

BAR considers a variety of factors in determining an individual or a vehicle’s eligibility to participate in CAP. These factors are based on regulations. BAR can determine eligibility only by evaluating a completed application. Call center agents cannot determine eligibility over the phone.

2.6 Do I need to submit any other information with my application?

If you are interested in retiring your vehicle for $1,500, you must provide documentation verifying your household income. You must submit this documentation with your mailed application. When applying online, you must mail income documentation with a copy of your confirmation notice.

2.7 What type of income documentation do I need to provide BAR when I apply to retire my vehicle for $1,500?

To verify your household income, you must mail to BAR a copy of ONE of the income or benefits documents listed below:

  • Public Assistance: A letter from an issuing agency or bank statement verifying public assistance issued to you within the past 60 days OR
  • Unemployment, disability or veteran’s benefits: A letter, check stub, or bank statement verifying funds issued to you within the past 60 days OR
  • Tax form and paycheck stub: Your Federal Tax Form 1040 or State Tax Form 540 filed in the most recent tax year AND a copy of an employment warrant issued to you within the past 60 days verifying your year-to-date earnings, hours worked and hourly wage OR
  • Wage History Report: If you do not have documentation from the list above, or you currently have no income, you may submit a Wage History Request to the Employment Development Department (EDD) requesting verification of your reported wages for the last four available quarters.

2.8 Are there any other documents I need to submit with my application?

After reviewing your application, BAR will notify you by mail if you need to submit additional documents.

2.9 How can I check the status of my application?

You can check the status of your application online. You will need both your CAP ID number and vehicle license plate number to check the status of your application.

2.10 How will I be notified concerning the status of my application?

After reviewing your application and regardless of whether you applied online or through the mail, BAR will mail you a letter.

2.11 If approved, how will I be notified?

If approved, BAR will mail you an eligibility letter with specific instructions on how to retire your vehicle.

3. Eligibility Requirements

3.1 Can any vehicle qualify for retirement through CAP?

Not all vehicles qualify for retirement through CAP. Your ability to retire your vehicle through CAP depends on meeting specific eligibility requirements at the time you submit your application to BAR.

3.2 I noticed that to retire my vehicle for $1,500, it must meet one of the two eligibility options. Why are there two different options?

California statute establishes different funding sources concerning the retirement of vehicles through CAP. There is some variability in applicant and vehicle requirements associated with each funding source.

3.3 My vehicle appears to meet some but not all the eligibility requirements of the $1,500 retirement incentive options. Can I combine elements of each option so that I can retire my vehicle?

Your vehicle must meet all the criteria of at least one option to be retired through CAP.

3.4 My vehicle’s registration is due. Can I apply for the Planned Non-Operation (PNO) option with DMV?

Vehicle registration requirements are based on your vehicle’s registration status with DMV as of the date you submit your CAP application to BAR. If your vehicle’s registration sticker expires after you submit your application, you may contact DMV for registration options, which may include registering your vehicle as Planned Non-Operation (PNO). If your vehicle’s registration sticker expired prior to applying, you must meet all applicable registration requirements, including paying all DMV fees.

3.5 My vehicle has been registered with the DMV in Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status during the previous two years. Can I still retire the vehicle through CAP?

If your vehicle is registered with DMV as PNO for less than 120 days during the two years prior to its current registration date, you may be eligible to participate in CAP. If your vehicle was in PNO for more than 120 days, you may be eligible to participate in CAP if you meet income guidelines and can demonstrate that you drove the vehicle primarily in California for the last two years. Refer to eligibility requirements to view the acceptable documentation.

3.6 My vehicle is registered with DMV as “junked.” Can I still participate in CAP?

Vehicles registered with DMV as “junked” are not eligible to participate in CAP.

3.7 I noticed I may need to provide proof that my vehicle has been continuously driven in California for the previous two years. What is the purpose of this requirement?

The purpose of CAP is to improve California’s air quality by reducing motor vehicle emissions. This requirement is intended to verify that a participating vehicle has been polluting in California for at least two years prior to applying to CAP. Ultimately, this requirement serves to justify the State’s financial incentive to permanently remove the vehicle from California’s roadways.

3.8 Why do I have to pay for a Smog Check inspection on a vehicle I plan to retire?

The purpose of CAP is to improve California’s air quality by reducing motor vehicle emissions through the retirement of older, higher polluting vehicles. The Smog Check inspection requirement is an important way of verifying that a participating vehicle is both operational and capable of being driven. It also allows BAR to measure the emissions reductions resulting from the retirement of the vehicle.

4. Retiring Your Vehicle at a BAR-Contracted Dismantler

4.1 If my application is approved, where can I retire my vehicle?

A list of BAR-contracted automotive dismantlers will be included with your eligibility letter. For a list of dismantlers, you can also contact BAR at (866) 272-9642.

4.2 Do I have to call the dismantler prior to retiring my vehicle at the dismantler site?

BAR recommends you contact the dismantler prior to arriving. This will help to ensure the dismantler is able to accept a vehicle approved for retirement. Some dismantlers also require appointments and/or additional documents.

4.3 Is there a deadline to take my vehicle to the dismantler?

Yes. You must take your vehicle to a BAR-contracted dismantler prior to the expiration date indicated on your eligibility letter. BAR recommends you retire your vehicle as soon as possible.

4.4 My eligibility letter has expired, but I still want to retire my vehicle. Can I still retire my vehicle through CAP?

If you are unable to retire your vehicle by the expiration date indicated on your eligibility letter and are still interested in participating in CAP, you will need to re-apply and meet all eligibility requirements at that time.

4.5 What if I do not have the original California Certificate of Title to my vehicle, the title is issued by a state other than California, or the title to my vehicle is altered (e.g., crossed out information)?

If you have questions concerning the title on your vehicle, contact the BAR-contracted dismantler you plan to visit for further instructions.

4.6 Do all owners listed on the vehicle's registration need to be present at the dismantler site to retire the vehicle?

If any of the registered owner(s) cannot be present, the registered owner(s) may designate someone else to retire their vehicle. The designee will be required to provide the dismantler the following:

  • A Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Power of Attorney form (REG 260 or REG 262) completed by the owner(s) AND
  • A copy of the vehicle owner’s valid government-issued photo identification. The designee will also be required to present valid government-issued photo identification.

4.7 Where can I get the DMV forms I need?

You can obtain DMV forms online, at any DMV office, or by contacting DMV at (800) 777-0133.

4.8 Do I need to show the dismantler photo identification?

Yes. All registered owners and designees must present their valid government-issued photo identification.

4.9 Does my vehicle need to be running when I am at the dismantler site?

Your vehicle must meet equipment and operational requirements. Additionally, the vehicle must be driven to a dismantler site under its own power.

4.10 When will I be paid for my vehicle?

You will be paid for your vehicle after it passes the equipment and operational inspection conducted by the dismantler. If the vehicle passes the inspection, the dismantler will issue a check made out to the registered owner(s) indicated on the eligibility letter.

4.11 Can the dismantler give me a ride home?

You are responsible for arranging your own transportation home

5. Top Three Reasons Why Applications Are Deficient

5.1 What can I do to help ensure my application is complete and gets approved when I submit it?

To help expedite the processing of your application, you should ensure that you and your vehicle meet all eligibility requirements.

5.2 What are the top reasons BAR determines applications are deficient?

These are the top three reasons why applications are deficient:

  • Lack of a Smog Check inspection

    To participate in CAP, your vehicle must have failed its most recent Smog Check inspection or have either passed or failed an inspection in the last 180 days. You can obtain your vehicle’s Smog Check inspection history online.

  • DMV registration fees are past due

    BAR will verify whether you have paid all registration fees due to DMV when processing an application. If the vehicle’s registration sticker is expired at the time you submit your application, you will be required to pay outstanding DMV registration fees.

  • Title and registration are not in the applicant’s name or reflect a lien holder

    To participate in CAP, you must be the registered owner of the vehicle. If your title includes the name of a legal owner (L/O), your vehicle cannot be retired through CAP. For additional information about how to transfer the vehicle’s title to your name, contact DMV or visit DMV online.

5.3 What happens to my application when BAR determines that it is deficient?

BAR will mail you a letter identifying any outstanding issues preventing the processing of your application. Since applications are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis and participation in CAP is based on the availability of funds, BAR strongly encourages applicants to address any application deficiencies in a timely manner.

5.4 Does BAR have any other suggestions for me before submitting my application?

You can assist BAR in promptly processing your application by doing the following:

  • Promptly mail documents verifying your current household income or receipt of government benefits if you are applying for the $1,500 incentive;
  • Complete all vehicle information required in Section 3 of the CAP application; and
  • Check the box in Section 1 of the CAP application indicating your interest in retiring your vehicle.

6. Top Five Reasons Why Applications Are Denied

6.1 I understand BAR processes thousands of CAP applications annually. Can you tell me the top five reasons why BAR has denied applications in the past?

Here are the top five reasons applications are denied participation in CAP:

  • Vehicle is undergoing a change of ownership transaction

    If you are in the process of purchasing a vehicle and the vehicle title has not yet been issued in your name, you are not eligible to retire the vehicle through CAP. You may apply upon completion of the transaction and a new title is issued to you by the DMV reflecting you as the registered owner on the vehicle title.

  • Applicant is not the registered owner of the vehicle with title issued in their name

    The name appearing on the CAP application, the vehicle’s registration, driver license, and income documentation must exactly match DMV records. Even slight variations in a name may result in BAR denying the application.

  • Applicant recently retired a vehicle through CAP

    BAR will review CAP participation records to verify that you have not retired a vehicle as a sole owner or two vehicles as a co-owner during the 12-month period preceding the date of your application. If you previously retired a vehicle through CAP and are not sure when this occurred, you may contact BAR at (866) 272-9642 to verify this information.

  • Vehicle has not been registered in California for the previous two consecutive years

    Retiring older, higher polluting vehicles from California’s roadways improves air quality. To ensure BAR maximizes the air quality benefits from CAP, BAR may request you provide documentation verifying that the vehicle has been driven in California.

  • Vehicle has a “junk” status

    Vehicles registered with the DMV as “junked” are already considered retired and removed from California roadways. Therefore, they are not eligible to participate in CAP.

6.2 None of the five reasons for application denials apply to me or my vehicle. However, I am still uncertain whether my vehicle meets all CAP eligibility requirements. Can I contact BAR and have an agent help me to determine whether my vehicle qualifies to participate in CAP?

BAR considers a variety of factors in determining an individual or a vehicle’s eligibility to participate in CAP. These factors are based on regulations. BAR can determine eligibility only by evaluating a completed application. Call center agents cannot determine your eligibility over the phone.

7. Questions

7.1 Where can I obtain more information about CAP?

You may contact BAR at (866) 272-9642. Agents are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8:10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for state holidays.

7.2 Where can I obtain a CAP application?

To have an application mailed to you, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., excluding state holidays. You can also obtain and submit an application online.