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Clash for clunkers program godsend for some
pic miguel-1
Miguel Ramirez is looking to get rid of his 1983 Toyota via a program aimed to get clunkers off the road. But the Manteca resident is hoping to get more than $1,000 to go towards the purchase of a newer, cleaner car necessary for work. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
For over 10 years, Miguel Ramirez has relied on his 1983 Toyota sedan to get to and from work.

The Manteca resident is a journeyman pressman, having been employed during the years by the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News and the Lodi News-Sentinel.

However, Ramirez’s work situation is currently on idle, but he’s on-call if and when duty calls.

“My type of work means having to go out of town,” he said on Wednesday.

But Ramirez has also grown tired of pouring his hard earned money into his red Toyota. In the past few years, he’s had to pay to get work done on the clutch, muffler, head gasket, used tires, a master brake cylinder and a tune up. All told, it’s cost him well over two grand.

“It’s costing me more to keep it on the road, especially since some of the parts (on the car) are hard to find,” said Ramirez, who is hoping to trade in his car with an odometer reading of over 260,000 miles for an early 2000 model.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, for one, has a new program – Polluting Automobile Scrap and Salvage (PASS) – for qualifying car owners to receive either $1,000 in cash or qualify for $5,000 to go towards the purchase of a cleaner operating car.

The district consists of San Joaquin County and extends as far south to Kern County. Vehicle owners are required to live within this area as part of the qualifications for PASS.

According to Linda Pizana, who is a representative of the air pollution control district, the car owner must have a DMV print out of the vehicle history.

“The car must be registered to the same owner for several years, have a certain amount of mileage and in working order,” she said.

PASS, in turn, hopes to send these vehicles failing to meet the key federal air quality standards – or grossest polluters – to the crusher.

Applications can be obtained by calling the district at (877) 900-5865.

 Those who qualify for the $5,000 will be required to keep the cleaner vehicle for at least three years and fill out annual reports.

Other such programs are on the horizon, including the U.S. Car Allowance Rebate System, a federal program recently signed into law by President Obama, and the state’s Cash for Clunkers.

The state program is scheduled to begin on April 1, 2010, with drivers possibly getting $1,000 – or $1,500 for low income – to turn their car over to a licensed dismantler.

Those living in San Joaquin Valley or Southern California, among the state’s two most polluted regions, could be eligible for vouchers – between $2,000 and $2,500 – to go towards a new or used fuel-efficient vehicle that’s four years old or newer.

Those on low income could use their vouchers for a fuel-efficient car no older than 2001.

More information on the state program can be found at

The U.S. Car Allowance Rebate System could be made available by July 24.

By then, all of the detailed issues should be hammered out on implementing the regulations. The law would require that all participating car dealers to be registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Cars here must be no older than 25 years, getting 18 miles a gallon or less, registered, insured for the past year, and operating.

More information can be obtained by logging on to

Ramirez, meanwhile, noted that he’s eligible to get $1,000 to spend as you please for his Toyota from PASS.

But that’s not enough.

“I really need a vehicle to get around, one that’s fuel efficient, and something good for the environment. But at the same time I need a (safe and reliable) car to help out my family by allowing me to pursue other jobs,” said Ramirez, who is expecting to commute for his type of work.

For now, he’s continuing his efforts toward qualifying his car for the larger sum.