What Preliminary Steps Should I Take Before Donating My Car?

Once you’ve decided you’d like to donate your car to a charity or a nonprofit organization, you may have some questions regarding the next steps.

You may be wondering about tax exceptions, whether you have to have your car cleaned before pick-up, and if any paperwork needs signing.

In this article, we will discuss what preliminary steps you should take before donating your car to charity. Please keep in mind that every charity and nonprofit is different so it’s always a good idea to double-check with the organization of your choice to ensure you have everything ready to go.


Three Preliminary Steps to Take Before Donating Your Car

  1. Fill out our online donation form here.
  2. Schedule a pick-up and prepare your vehicle (tips below).
  3. Meet the tow truck on pick-up day!


Check These Steps Off Your List Before Donating Your Vehicle

  • First, remove all personal belongings from the vehicle. Common items left in cars include garage openers, EZ passes, CDs, external radio/CD players, and cell phone chargers. Double-check your glove compartment for any miscellaneous items, too.
  • Next, prepare the vehicle’s title for donation.
    • Sign and print your name on the title as the seller, exactly as your name appears on the title (don’t forget the middle initials). If two people are listed on the title, both people must print and sign their names.
    • The Department of Motor Vehicles is very strict about titles. They will not accept titles that contain errors or have information scratched out so take your time when filling out each field (we don’t want you to have to go back again).
    • Copy or scan both sides of the title for your records.
  • If needed, obtain the vehicle’s lien release. A lien release is needed if there was financing involved in the donor’s purchase of the car. Due to title transfer regulations, Vehicles for Change needs both the title and lien release of these vehicles before we can take ownership of the car.
  • Lastly, remove license tags and return them to the Department of Motor Vehicles before canceling insurance. Some tag and title stores also accept license tags, but call ahead to make sure.


Helpful Information:

  • Donated Vehicles are typically picked up within 3 business days. During our busiest donation months – December & January – we ask that donors allow more time for pick-up.
  • Donors receive a donation receipt and a tax receipt. A donation receipt is provided by our tow truck driver at the point of pick up. This proof of donation can be used to cancel the insurance and assist in returning tags to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • A tax receipt, which contains the value of the donor’s tax deduction, is sent to the donor after their vehicle has been fully processed.


Contact Us Today

Vehicles for Change is proud to be the nation’s largest affordable car ownership program. Our organization does more than donate and sell vehicles, we also help families increase their access to employment opportunities, fresh food, recreational activities, and education. It all begins with a vehicle and donors like you!

If you want to learn more about Vehicles for Change, how our work has impacted thousands, and our recidivism efforts, call us at 855-820-7990 or send us a message online here. We look forward to hearing from you.