Can I Sell My Junk Car to The Government?

The federal government offers many assistance programs and benefits to citizens who need them. These programs include healthcare, housing, nutrition, and unemployment assistance, but does it also include transportation? Specifically, will the government give you cash for your old car?

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Read on to learn about whether the government accepts old vehicles in exchange for financial compensation.  

Why Would the Government Buy My Junk Car?

Why Would the Government Buy My Junk Car?

The government does not usually buy vehicles from citizens. This is typically left to businesses and individuals in the private sector. However, the government might be pursuing an initiative related to cars. In such cases, they will offer you incentives in exchange for your vehicle.

This actually occurred between July 2009 and August 2009. The federal government enacted the Cash for Clunkers program to both assist the automotive industry during the recession and incentive drivers to trade in their old, inefficient vehicles for credit to buy newer, more fuel-efficient ones.

During this time, vehicles that achieved less than the EPA-estimated 18 combined MPG were eligible for trade-in. Once you trade-in your vehicle, you would receive credit for either $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new car.

It seems like a win-win-win under this program for you, the government, and the automotive industry. However, this program is no longer available.

How Much Can I Make for Selling My Car to the Government?

You currently cannot sell your car to the government. When you were able to, the government usually gave a voucher that was either $3,500 or $4,500. The amount you were eligible for depended on the fuel economy of the vehicle you were trading in and of the car you were going to purchase with your voucher.

How Much Can I Make for Selling My Car to the Government?

For most cars, the criteria specified that the old vehicle must have an EPA-estimated combined fuel efficiency that is 18 MPG or less. The new car on the other hand needed to have an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency of at least 22 MPG.

The criteria were more specific for light and heavy-duty trucks. Light and standard trucks still needed to have an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency of at least 18 MPG. You would receive $3,500 if you purchased a new truck that was at least 2 MPG more efficient than your old one and $4,500 if it was 5 MPG more efficient.

Similar rules applied to heavy-duty trucks. However, in this case, your old truck needed to have an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency of at least 15 MPG. Then, you would receive $3,500 for a new truck that had at least 1 MPG more than your old car and $4,500 if it had a least 2 MPG more.

Nowadays, such a program does not exist. However, residents of California may be able to participate in the state’s specific Consumer Assistance Program that provides cash for retiring certain vehicles. Read ahead to learn more about this program.

Where Can I Sell My Car to The Government?

As stated before, the federal government does not currently purchase vehicles from citizens. However, residents of California may be able to partake in their state’s vehicle retirement program.

This is called the Consumer Assistance (CAP) and it allows eligible residents to trade in their old cars for cash. You can get between $1,000 and $1,500 for your car. The purpose of this program is to improve California’s air quality by incentivizing residents to get rid of their old, less efficient vehicles.

Where Can I Sell My Car to The Government?

The $1,500 incentive is reserved for households with incomes that are within or below 225 percent of the Federal poverty level. All other eligible applicants can receive $1,000.

Besides financial eligibility, both you and car vehicle must meet other criteria:

  • The vehicle title must be in your name.

  • You must be the registered owner.

  • The car cannot already be retired or deemed as junk.

  • Your car must be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

  • The car must have failed its last smog test.

  • The car must be in working condition as specified by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair.

These are only some of the requirements that you and your vehicle must meet to qualify for the voucher. However, applying online simplifies the process and you will be notified if any information is missing.

Currently, California is the only state with a vehicle retirement program.

What Alternatives Are There for Getting Rid of a Junk Car?

Fortunately for drivers looking to get rid of their old junk cars, there are many private businesses and individuals who purchase them. Plus, you’ll be able to sell it as-is and not worry about making any repairs prior to selling.

Junkyards are probably the first places you think of when considering who will buy your old car. This is true; junkyards will purchase your car in whatever condition it’s in. There are usually no requirements to meet before they will take your car which will make it easier to trade it for cash.

However, junkyards usually only pay for the salvage metal on your vehicle. As a result, the worth of your car is ultimately based on the weight of the usable metals on your vehicle rather than its actual value.

Alternatively, you could turn to used car dealerships. There, you may be able to trade in or simply sell your car. Used car dealers make it easy and convenient to sell your car, but they are unlikely to offer a fair price for yours.

They are in the business of selling cars and it takes money to repair the junk cars they buy. In order to keep turning a profit, they regularly make low-ball offers for vehicles sold to them.

While this next option will require a little more effort on your part, it could result in a much bigger check for you. Selling to the private market can be much more lucrative than selling to either a junkyard or dealership. That’s because there are private buyers out there who genuinely want a junk car. Plus, many buyers are open to negotiation and offering a fair price.

However, you will have to take the time to create one or more listings on digital marketplaces. This will involve taking pictures of your vehicle, researching the value of your car in its current condition, speaking with buyers, and possibly meeting with several potential buyers before securing a sale.

Sell To WeBuyJunkCarsFast!

Sell To WeBuyJunkCarsFast!

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Does the Government Buy Old Cars?

At one point, the U.S. government did accept old cars. This was part of their short-lived Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), better known as Cash for Clunkers. Through this program, you would be able to trade in your old car and get credit toward a newer, more fuel-efficient one. However, this program is no longer available.

Fortunately, there are many other ways to sell your junk car, no matter how damaged it is. Many private companies and individuals offer cash for old, damaged, and non-running vehicles. You can easily find a local or national company that will buy your old car by searching online.

Can I Sell My Car To The Government?

Although the government used to offer financial incentives for old cars, they no longer do so. So, in short, no, you cannot sell your car directly to the government. However, junkyards, salvage yards, used car dealerships, and private buyers are all willing to buy your junk car.

Is Cash For Clunkers Still Going?

Cash For Clunkers was a government program enacted to financially incentivize drivers to trade in their old inefficient vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient ones. This program began July 1, 2009, and ended August 24, 2009. Therefore, it is no longer in effect and you cannot trade in your old vehicle for a new one through the government.

The Cash for Clunkers program specified that your car:

  • Needed to be 25 years old or newer

  • Have an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency that was less than 18 MPG

  • Be drivable

Many of today’s vehicles have much higher fuel efficiencies, thus, your current car may not even qualify if this program was still running with this criteria.

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