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There is gold in that smogmobile
Arthur Garcia had been driving the same small, 22-year-old truck to work and back for the last 12 years. But when it came time in May to get his pickup "smogged", Californian slang for an emissions test, his local garage told him that the vehicle would not pass, not even with a tune-up.
"My wife called motor vehicles and asked them what to do," said Garcia, who lives in Ontario, California, near San Bernadino.
Bita Garcia learned that there were a few alternatives offered by the state for vehicles that did not meet the emissions standards, and she chose the option to retire the truck.
On July 6, after they had turned in the pickup and were waiting for the necessary paperwork to be filled out, the couple was happily surprised to learn that they were going to receive $1,000 for opting to remove their old truck from the road.
Thanks to good timing and to legislation signed just days earlier, the Garcia's were among the first participants in California's new Smog Check Consumer Assistance Program for owners of vehicles that do not meet the state's emissions standards. Under CAP, the owners of cars that fail their biannual California smog check may receive $1,000 to permanently retire the vehicle or up to $500 toward repairs.
"We were tremendously pleased," said Bita Garcia.
CAP went into effect July 1, one day after the signing of the state budget that allocated funds for the program. Through the new initiative, the state hopes to remove 50,000 polluting vehicles from California streets in the next four years.
"The purpose of this program is to reduce the amount of emissions being released every day in California and to clean up some of the smog from the California skies that's the bottom line," said Chris Davis, spokesperson for the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
"Nothing makes an old clunker a zero emissions vehicle faster then taking it off the road," he said.
Cars and trucks that fail emissions inspection and then qualify for retirement under CAP are sent to special vehicle "dismantlers" authorized by the state. The vehicle may not fail its smog test due to tampering with emissions equipment, according to Davis.
At the dismantler, the battery, tires, wheels and radios are removed and liquids are drained, after which the car is crushed or shredded. All materials that can be recycled steel in particular are sent off for a new life elsewhere.
The dismantlers are under strict orders not to sell any of the parts from the retired cars parts that can breathe new life into other old and polluting vehicle models.
"We do not want similar clunkers to remain on the road," said Davis. An inspection system is in place to ensure that the dismantlers comply with this rule.
For people who are not prepared to get rid of their car or truck after it has been "smogged" and failed, CAP provides up to $500 toward repairs with a $100 co-payment from the owners. Individuals and families who cannot afford the $100 contribution can apply to reduce the amount to as low as $20.
The program is designed to make it easy for consumers to help alleviate the pollution problems that face California, according to Davis.
"CAP is part of the state's commitment to a more consumer-friendly program to reduce smog," he said. "We realize the success of this program depends on a partnership with consumers."
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