How to Donate a Car That Doesn’t Run: A Complete Guide

Donating a car that doesn’t run can seem like a daunting task, but it can be a smooth and rewarding process with the right information. This guide will walk you through the steps of donating your non-running car to a charity, ensuring you maximize your impact while benefiting from potential tax deductions.

Why Donate a Non-Running Car?

Donating a non-running car has several benefits:

  • Support a Charity: Your car can help raise funds for a cause you care about.
  • Tax Deductions: You may be eligible for a tax deduction based on the car’s value.
  • Environmental Benefits: Proper disposal or recycling of car parts helps the environment.
  • Free Towing: Most charities offer free towing for donated vehicles, saving you the hassle.

Choosing the Right Charity

Not all charities accept non-running vehicles, so it’s essential to choose one that does. Here are some tips for selecting the right charity:

  1. Research Charities: Look for reputable charities that accept non-running cars. Websites like Charity Navigator can help you find trustworthy organizations.
  2. Mission Alignment: Choose a charity whose mission aligns with your values.
  3. Check for Tax-Exempt Status: Ensure the charity is a 501(c)(3) organization so you can claim a tax deduction.

Preparing Your Car for Donation

Before donating your car, there are a few steps to prepare it:

  1. Gather Documents: You’ll need the car’s title, and in some states, a bill of sale. Check with the charity for any additional paperwork requirements.
  2. Remove Personal Items: Check the car thoroughly and remove all personal belongings.
  3. Inform the DMV: Notify your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about the donation. This step is crucial to avoid future liability issues.

The Donation Process

Here’s a step-by-step guide to donating your non-running car:

Step 1: Contact the Charity

Reach out to the charity and inform them about your intent to donate a non-running vehicle. They will provide you with specific instructions and necessary paperwork.

Step 2: Schedule a Pick-Up

Most charities offer free towing services for donated vehicles. Schedule a convenient time for them to pick up your car. Ensure you are available to hand over the keys and the car’s title.

Step 3: Transfer Ownership

Complete the transfer of ownership. This usually involves signing the title over to the charity. The charity might provide you with a receipt or acknowledgment letter for tax purposes.

What Happens to Your Car After Donation?

Once donated, your car may be used in several ways:

  • Auctioned: The charity might sell the car at auction, and the proceeds will support their programs.
  • Recycled: If the car is beyond repair, it may be sold for parts or scrap metal, which still generates revenue for the charity.
  • Repaired and Used: Some charities repair donated cars and use them in their operations or give them to those in need.

Tax Benefits of Donating a Non-Running Car

Donating a car can provide you with a tax deduction, but it’s essential to follow IRS guidelines:

  1. Fair Market Value: You can deduct the car’s fair market value if it’s under $500.
  2. Sale Price Deduction: If the charity sells the car, you can deduct the sale price.
  3. IRS Form 1098-C: If your car sells for more than $500, the charity must send you an IRS Form 1098-C, which details the sale price.

Tips for Maximizing Your Donation

To make the most of your car donation:

  • Get Multiple Opinions: If you’re unsure about your car’s value, get an appraisal.
  • Keep Records: Maintain all documentation, including the title transfer and receipts from the charity.
  • Understand Tax Implications: Consult with a tax advisor to understand how the donation will affect your taxes.


Donating a car that doesn’t run is a generous way to support a cause you care about while benefiting from potential tax deductions. By choosing the right charity and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure a smooth donation process that maximizes the impact of your gift.

Donating a non-running car not only clears up space but also contributes to the greater good. Start the donation process today and make a difference!

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