When you file for bankruptcy you can claim your vehicles as "exempt" and keep those items. California gives debtors a choice between the state law exemptions found in Code of Civil Procedure section 704 and the exemptions in section 703.
Under section 704.010, you are entitled to an exemption up to $2,725.00 for either equity in the vehicle, proceeds from the sale of a vehicle, or insurance pay-out for loss/damaged vehicle.
Under section 703.140, you can exempt $3525.00 in value of your vehicle. However, exemptions under section 703 allow for a "wildcard" exemption that would allow you to protect much more equity in vehicle.
If you have any questions about bankruptcy please call 1st California Law for a free attorney consultation.