How to Find Donated Cars for Sale?

By Paul M. J. Suchecki

  • Overview

    Compared to every car I've owned, by far the best bargain was a donated used car. It was a huge, 1974 Ford LTD with a trunk I could have moved into. It cost me $600. I drove it for 2 years, put $150 into it for repairs, and sold it for $300 when I was finished with it. Since most cars are donated for a tax deduction, they are usually in pretty good shape, because the people who donate them had the money to maintain them.
    How to Find Donated Cars for Sale?
    • Step 1

      Call your favorite charities. You might be surprised at how many of them now accept and sell used cars, like the venerable St. Vincent de Paul. In some cases, church bulletins or your organizations' newsletters offer donated used cars for sale.
    • Step 2

      Turn to an Internet search engine. Enter the name of your city and "donate used car." You'll find the organizations that accept used cars. Frequently, the groups will have websites, although many won't have specific cars listed because they move too quickly. Then organize your search by location.


    • Step 3

      Go through the classified ads in the "Recycler," "Penny Saver" or your local newspaper. If the cars are being sold by a charity, the name is usually listed in the individual ads. Public radio stations will sometimes accept and sell used cars. Look up your favorites and call.
    • Step 4

      Talk to your friends and neighbors about organizations where they volunteer. You're looking for a non-profit organization with 501 (C) (3) IRS code tax status, meaning that all contributions are fully tax deductible. Ask if these places both accept and sell used vehicles. Some, like my local Explorer troop will accept vehicles, in this case boats, but not sell them.
    • Step 5

      Get to know the people working at these places. If you don't find what you want on the first try, leave a name and phone number, and ask for a call if something arrives more to your liking. Be sure to make a note of the people with whom you've talked for your follow up calls.
    • Skill: Easy
    • Tip: If you have any natural affiliation with the group actually selling the car, mention it when you get there, such as if you are a veteran and you're dealing with the Purple Heart Service Foundation. Unlike traditional used car dealers, the people selling are usually not on commission and are frequently working to help the charity fulfill its purpose. If you can convince the people selling the vehicle that supplying you with a good deal will help the charity in its altruistic mission, you could be on the way to real bargain.

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