How to Donate a Car

If you have a car sitting in your garage collecting dust or you’ve recently purchased a new car and no longer need your old one, you may consider donating your car to a charity. Donating your car can drastically improve the course of someone else’s life by giving them access to better-paying jobs and a means to be more present as a parent. In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the car donation process so you can get started right away.

First and foremost, when donating a car, do your research about the charities you find. Donating a car is usually a safe process, but make sure no charity is promising something that sounds too good to be true. For example, if they promise a specified amount of money that you can deduct from your taxes when you donate on their website, that’s a possible warning sign. Many factors play into tax deduction amounts like the market value of the vehicle, how much work was put into maintenance before the car was sold or auctioned off, and the mileage of the vehicle. Your tax deduction amount cannot be foreseen by any charity before it is donated. You can, however, get an estimate of your car’s worth and its potential sale price by visiting Kelley Blue Book, an online resource for vehicle sales information. Once you choose a charity, here are the common steps you’ll take to donate your car:

  • Fill out a donation form on your chosen charity’s website.
  • Schedule a pickup date and location (most charities will come and pick up the vehicle for you, Vehicles for Change works with your schedule and will pick up the car free of charge).
  • Prepare your vehicle.
    • Remove all personal belongings including your license plates.
    • Prepare vehicle’s title for donation. Sign and print your name on the vehicle’s title as the seller, exactly as your name appears on the title. If there are two names on the title, both people must print and sign their names. Write in the name of the charity you are donating to as the buyer. Make sure you take your time with this step as the Department of Motor Vehicles is very strict about errors or scratched-out words. The title and donation will not be accepted if there any errors or scratched-out words on the title.  Make sure you make a copy of the title for your records.
      • All original documents are required. No copies.
      • If you are not sure on how to complete the title contact the charity directly.
  • Meet the pickup truck on pick-up day. Vehicles for Change works with you so if you are not available you don’t have to be with the vehicle at the time of pick-up.


Frequently Asked Questions About Car Donations

Question: What happens to my car donation?

Answer: Many charities that accept car donations will use the vehicle for charity-related work, sell the vehicle to a person in need for a reduced price, or auction off the vehicle and/or its parts. In many cases, if someone donates a luxury vehicle in good condition, the charity will sell the car because most low-income families can’t keep up with the associated costs to get routine maintenance done on the vehicle. In this case, the charity will use any profit made from the sale toward fixing up other vehicles that have been donated.


Question: Should I just sell my car and donate the money to charity instead?

Answer: This is completely up to you! Our team does everything in our power to give your car to a family in need, which maximizes your tax deduction. The tangible action of donating your car tends to make you feel like you’re really making a difference in someone’s life (which you are!). In addition, making a car donation isn’t only about helping a family in need or even offering a means for a charity to do great work; it also helps the community at large. For instance, Vehicles for Change hires and trains many former inmates to work on vehicles, giving them a skill set that frequently leads to a job and a better life, lowering the rate of recidivism. Your impact can go far beyond a car donation when donating to the right charity.


Question: Can I claim a tax deduction for my car donation?

Answer: As long as the charity you’re donating to is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and you itemize your deductions, you can claim a tax deduction. To verify that a charity is qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions, use the “EO Select Check” tool on the IRS website. The amount you can deduct will depend on the sale price of the vehicle (after the cost of repairs has been subtracted) or the profit made from auctioning it off. When donating to Vehicles for Change, we do everything in our power to donate your vehicle to a family in need which maximizes your tax deduction, per IRS tax deduction guidelines. Once you donate your car, you’ll receive a receipt and a 1098-c form with details about your donation within 30 days of pickup. For more information on tax deductions, visit A Donor’s Guide to Vehicle Donation.


Contact Us Today

Donating your car is a big decision. While there are many charities doing great work, we hope you consider Vehicles for Change for your car donation. We are the nation’s largest affordable car ownership program, and we work hard to help families access better employment opportunities, fresh food, recreational activities, and education. It all starts with a car.

Visit our donation page to get started on your car donation today or call us at 855-820-7990 to talk to one of our team members who can answer any questions. With help from donors like you, we’ve helped improve over 25,000 people’s lives by donating over 7,500 cars to families in need. Join the movement and donate today.