Can I Donate a Car That Doesn't Run?

Is your car too old to sell? Donate it instead.

Donating your car can help you contribute to a good cause, clean up your street by removing a an old and rusty vehicle and can even be more financially rewarding than selling it. Numerous charities will happily accept cars in any condition and also issue a receipt which you can use to deduct the donation from your taxable income.


Keep in mind that unless it is in absolutely disastrous condition, your inoperable car is still worth something. Even if the engine is completely missing, the chassis, door panels and other metal parts can be used as scrap steel. Often, a junkyard can salvage parts, such as instrument clusters, glove compartments and gear knobs which can be cleaned up and used as replacement parts. In extreme cases, however, a car will be worth almost nothing. A very old vehicle, with practically all parts and equipment stripped out and a fully rusted chassis may be barely worth the cost of towing, if that.


If your car is not running, its market value will usually diminish beyond the cost of repair needed to get it back up on the road. In fact, it is exceptionally difficult to sell an inoperable vehicle to a private party. If the car appears to be relatively easy to fix, a mechanic specializing in fixing up and reselling old vehicles may purchase it. In the absence of this option, your only choice is to contact a junkyard, which must send a tow truck to take your car. Junk yards are notorious for paying very little for such cars, and some may offer to buy the car per pound as scrap steel, even if a lot of parts can still be salvaged.


When you donate your vehicle to a classified 501(c)(3) charity, the value of your car is deductible from your taxable gross income. This value can be arrived at by assessing the market price of similar vehicles, with some discount for the damage that rendered the vehicle inoperable. Deducting this value from your income can reduce your tax bill more than the cash you would get from a junkyard, which will often pay you very little for the vehicle. Furthermore, most charities will happily send a trow truck, at no cost to you, to remove the vehicle from your residence.

Inoperable Vehicles

Most charities state that they will accept non-running cars. Breast Cancer Survivors, for instance states "We accept most vehicles running or not," while Kars for Kids mentions "...most car donations are accepted, running or not."

Like most similar charities, however, these organizations also add that vehicles that are in such bad condition that they would not justify the cost of towing will not be taken. In other words, the short answer is that yes you can donate a car that does not run. However, it cannot be in such poor shape that it has practically no value at all.

Many Options

There are a large number of charities that accept car donations. A vehicle that one considers not worth the cost of towing, another charity, perhaps one who works with a junkyard that is closer to your home or badly in need of funds, may be happy to take. To ensure that no one is unpleasantly surprised, describe the condition of your vehicle over the phone, or send pictures of the car to the charity of your choice before you schedule a pickup.