Voucher program helps Central Texans 'drive clean'



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Posted on May 7, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Updated Friday, May 7 at 6:27 PM

Every year, thousands of people have their car or truck inspected. Most of the time, older vehicles fail because of the emissions test.

"As a car gets older, that catalytic converter starts to get used up in cleaning those emissions coming out of that tail pipe," said Michael Regan, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

A new vehicle's emissions are 90 percent cleaner than an older car or truck. "Drive a Clean Machine" is a state program designed to reduce ozone emissions by helping people drive a cleaner vehicle. If you qualify for the "Drive a Clean Machine" program and your vehicle fails an emissions test, you have two options: You can either repair or replace your vehicle. The voucher program provided by the State of Texas, could help you do that.

The program grants a $600 voucher for repairs, voucher for $3,000 for a new gas engine vehicle and a $3,500 voucher for the purchase of a new hybrid.

Tom Hebson, co-owner of ME Gene Johnson Garage, has had as many as eight people a month coming in for repairs that qualify for the program. Most have been surprised that the voucher program even exists.

"Kind of an, 'Oh, really.'  Especially when we're near the university and we have a student in. I say, 'What's your income.' 'I don't have one, I'm a student.' Well, I say, 'this program is designed for people like yourself,'" said Hebson.

Since 2007, the voucher campaign has assisted nearly 3,000 people in Central Texas to drive a clean machine.  Many more are expected and encouraged to take advantage of this green program.

To qualify, your vehicle must meet these conditions:

  • Failed an emissions test,
  • Registered in your participating county area for the 12 consecutive months preceding your application, and
  • Passed a Texas motor-vehicle safety and emissions inspection within 15 months of your application and driven under its own power to the automobile dealership.


  • At least 10 year old and gasoline powered,
  • Driven under its own power to the automobile dealership,
  • Registered in your participating county area for the 12 consecutive months preceding your application, and
  • Passed a DPS motor-vehicle safety inspection (if more than 24 years old) or safety and emissions inspection (if 24 years old less) within 15 months of application.

Who is is eligible for vehicle replacement?
Your vehicle must be registered in one of these participating counties:

  • Travis
  • Williamson

Income requirements:

Size of Household Maximum Net
Income Per Year
1 $32,490
2 $43,710
3 $54,930
4 $66,150
5 $77,370
6 $88,590
7 $99,810
8 $111,030
Over 8 Add $11,220 for each additional member

The vehicle you purchase must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a federal Tier 2 Bin 5 or cleaner vehicle (see the list: model year 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007)
  • Cannot cost more than $25,000 before tax, title and license
  • Must be purchased through a participating dealer

For more information and to apply for the program, click here to go to driveacleanmachine.org.