How To Donate a Car in California

How To Donate a Car in California

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how to donate a car in California

For millionaires and charitable individuals alike, knowing how to donate a car in California properly may eliminate missed opportunities for tax breaks.  In this informational piece, we describe the steps involved with car donations.

Cars change hands daily, endowing new buyers with someone’s old clunker.  In some cases, vehicle owners decide it’s simply better to recycle their automobiles for petty cash; many of these cars run perfectly fine.  Instead of tossing away your beater with a heater, somebody less fortunate may have use for it.  For those interested in charity, here’s how to donate a car in California.

#1: Clean your vehicle completely

Disinfect your car from back to front, making sure old potato chip bags, coins and things which others would rather not see are eliminated.  If you can afford detailing, then perhaps send your car for thorough cleaning inside and out.  Make sure owner’s manuals, maintenance records and other pertinent paperwork have been put back into glove compartment.  Finally, always make sure license plates have proper fasteners, such as screws and bolts.

The cleaner your vehicle, the more someone else will appreciate it and feel like they’re owning something new.

#2: Locate charities in California

One major part of learning how to donate a car in California involves finding actually ‘good’ charitable organizations that not only accept cars, but will have someone’s best interests at heart instead of their own.  Thankfully, the State of California regulates charities that operate within their state boundaries; you can search charities on The Attorney General’s website to make sure no complaints have been filed.

Leading charities that accept vehicles include Catholic Charities, Kars4Kids, ARC of California and even your local Salvation Army.  Above all else, make sure the vehicle will go specifically to either better families, children or primary caregivers that need reliable transportation.

#3: Approach several charities before committing to one

You’re going to receive your tax break, so put that thought away from now.  When dealing with charities you’ve never seen or heard of before, perhaps call their executives to learn about what happens when cars change hands.  Some charities are unfortunately morally bankrupt; they’re worried more about paying for Jaguars and expensive Rolex watches with your contributions than helping those needing assistance. Due diligence by phone, or even in person, will help eliminate those with duplicitous intent.

After narrowing down potential car donation spots to one, it’s time to drive your vehicle over for inspection, title signing and tax form printing. Those that know how to donate a car in California understand the importance of ‘paper trails’.

#4: Deliver vehicle, get receipt

Over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of people who have reported that charitable organizations that accept cars in California ripped them off.  Either they’re not getting proper records of vehicle donation, or the non-profit is taking the car for their own unscrupulous needs. Thankfully, more rules mean that executives who, themselves, know how to donate a car in California are taking care of vehicles donated these days and are making a more concerted effort to keep everything legitimate.

Once you’ve arrived to deliver your vehicle, make sure the receiver – usually a sorter or someone in management – has the time for properly inspecting the car, filling out vehicle titles and getting you the proper receipts for tax purposes.  Do NOT leave the charity property without proof; this makes your life hellish at best.  You can then say your final goodbye’s to the vehicle that was once reliable to you.

You now know how to donate a car in California

Now that you understand how to donate a car in California, make sure you consider donation before scrapping your car.  Another family may benefit from your old jalopy, and your tax breaks could be immense.  Always check out the OAG website in California to assure no complaints have been filed against the charity in question.


I'm Dave. A no-frills, high quality cut-to-the-chase news writer that loves breaking news, political brouhaha and all the theatrics that come with living on Earth. I love Chinese food, paranormal activity and random road trips. Einsturzende Neubaten is great music for relaxing the soul.