How to Donate a Car

If you have a car sitting in your garage collecting dust, or you’ve recently purchased a new vehicle and no longer need your old one, you may consider donating your car to a charity. Donating your vehicle 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 how to donate a car, with everything you need to know about the process to start immediately.

First and foremost, when donating a car, do your research about the charities you find. Donating a vehicle is usually safe, but make sure no charity promises 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 vehicle’s market value, how much work was put into maintenance before the car was sold or auctioned off, and the vehicle’s mileage. Charities cannot foresee your tax deduction amount before it is donated. However, you can get an estimate of your car’s worth and potential sale price by visiting Kelley Blue Book, an online resource for vehicle sales information. Once you choose a charity, here are the standard 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 your 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 two names are 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 are 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.
      • Contact the charity directly if you are unsure how to complete the title.
  • Meet the pick-up 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 car at pick-up time.


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 car 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 donated cars.


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

Answer: This is entirely 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 vehicle tends to make you feel like you’re making a difference in someone’s life (which you are!). In addition, donating a car 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 wider community. 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 recidivism rate. When donating to the right charity, your impact can go far beyond a car donation.


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. Use the “Tax Exempt Organization Search” tool on the IRS website to verify that a charity is qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions. The amount you can deduct will depend on the vehicle’s sale price (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 needy family that 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 pick-up. 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 many charities are doing great work, we hope you consider Vehicles For Change for your car donation. We are the nation’s most extensive 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.