Is it Time for a New Set of Wheels?

car

So, you’ve been driving your vehicle, Bessie, for many years and she is starting to look, and feel, every bit her age. You are hearing noises you’ve never heard before. Things are starting to fall off that use to be otherwise secure. You take her in for a routine service and find out that just about everything is needing to be replaced. Yep, your loyal companion that has made sure you reached your destination safely many a dark, rainy night is in desperate need of retirement.


You know it’s time to give your old friend a permanent rest, but if you do that, how will you get from point A to point B? The obvious answer is to get a new car, but what about the down payment? Bessie isn’t going to fetch much in the way of her blue book value!

Fear not! For those fortunate enough to find their current residence somewhere in either the Lone Star State or the Golden State, help might be closer than you think. There are a few other states, such as Utah and New Jersey, that have similar programs in place for government, military, or private organization owned vehicles.

Please note: both the Texas and California based programs are similar. However, since I happen to live in Texas,  I will speak more specifically about that program.

Back at the end of 2007, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), in an effort to improve air quality in the state, launched the Drive a Clean Machine program. This program helps households that own a vehicle that is at least 10 years old purchase a newer set of wheels. Vehicle owners that qualify can receive between $3,000 and $3,500  in monetary assistance to trade in their aging car for one that is not more than 3 years old. In other words, Bessie’s trade in value will be credited as $3,000 to $3,500. That’s pretty great, right?! Who wouldn’t want free money to get a new car?

Now, pay attention, because here comes the fine print. Since this is a very attractive program for those needing a little help getting a new car, there are certain qualifications that must be met in order to be eligible. The two basic ones are: 1) your net income, as reported on your latest tax return, must meet certain requirements, and 2) Bessie must be registered in one of the 16 participating counties. Once you get past those two things, the remaining conditions have to do with whether she recently failed an emissions test, when was the last time she passed a Texas motor vehicle safety and emissions inspection, and if you were able to actually drive her to the dealership.

If you think there’s a good possibility that this program could help you out, then go to the Drive A Clean Machine website to find out the specific eligibility requirements in Texas. Information on California’s Voluntary Accelerated Vehicle Retirement (VAVR) Program can be found on the California Environmental Protection Agency website. If you do in fact qualify, then check out the links on the websites to get further information on how to apply for a voucher, how much you can get (by the way, you get more if you purchase a hybrid vehicle), what set of wheels you can use the voucher for, and which dealerships and credit unions are taking part in these programs.

Although Texas and California are the only states currently offering these types of programs to their residence, hopefully other states will jump on the bandwagon in the near future. After all, this is a great way for all Americans to help the environment while benefiting their commutes.

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