Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Air District is announcing incentives of $1,200 through the Vehicle Buy Back Program for Bay Area residents to scrap 1997 and older vehicles to improve local air quality.

Spare the Air Status

The Vehicle Buy Back Program pays owners of older, more polluting cars and small trucks to voluntarily retire their vehicles. Older vehicles lack modern emission control technology and pollute at a higher rate than newer models.

Eligibility requirements for the Vehicle Buy Back Program include:

  • Vehicle must be 1997 model year or older
  • Vehicle must be currently registered as operable and must be drivable
  • Vehicle must have been registered in the Bay Area for the past 24 months
  • Vehicles within 60 days of a required smog check must take and pass smog check

The program reduces air pollutants from vehicle exhaust, including fine particles and ozone precursors, the main ingredients in smog. These pollutants contribute to respiratory diseases and increased mortality rates. Retiring older vehicles also reduces carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Since 1996, the Air District’s Vehicle Buy Back Program has retired over 90,000 cars, vans, pickup trucks, and SUVs. For each pre-1997 vehicle removed from Bay Area roads, an estimated 75 pounds of air pollution is prevented from being emitted into the air annually. In 2020, 3,000 vehicles were retired, representing 91 tons of air pollution having been removed.

The State of California also operates a related program offering eligible consumers vehicle retirement options for vehicles that do not pass smog check. More on the Consumer Assistance Program is available at

To find out more about the Vehicle Buy Back program, visit

Last Updated: 9/14/2021