SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is offering drivers incentives of $1,200 to scrap vehicles from 1998 and older to improve air quality. The incentive, announced in a press release Monday, is available through the BAAQMD’s Vehicle Buy Back Program.

The program pays owners of older, high-polluting vehicles to retire their cars or small trucks voluntarily, the release states. Older model cars and trucks lack modern emission control technology and generate more pollution than newer models, according to the press release.

“The Vehicle Buy Back Program is an important tool to encourage early retirement of the most polluting cars and trucks on our roads as older engines run dirtier than newer models and contribute significantly more to unhealthy air quality,” said Sharon Landers, interim executive officer of the Air District. “Transportation remains the largest source of air pollution in the Bay Area and scrapping older vehicles helps limit harmful tailpipe emissions in the air we breathe.”

Eligibility requirements for the program include:

  • Vehicles must be 1998 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

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The program is intended to reduce air pollutants from vehicle exhaust like fine particles and ozone precursors, which are ingredients in smog. “These pollutants contribute to respiratory diseases and increased mortality rates,” according to the press release. “Retiring older vehicles also reduces carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.”

The program has retired over 90,000 vehicles since 1996, according to the press release, removing an estimated 75 pounds of air pollution per vehicle. To find out more about the Vehicle Buy Back program, visit