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What are your thoughts about automotive recycling?

Have you donated your car through the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program, or another program? We'd love to hear from you. Share your thoughts right here -- and thanks.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi

Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers


  • edited October 2007
    I've donated a couple of vehicles to an orginization called Kid's for Courage.

    These vehicles are then sent too two recycling yards called U-PULL-R-PARTS. Here you can go into the yards and pull any part you need, and pay about ten cents on the dollar compared to a new/remanufactured part. Half the money earned goes towards helping those children with serious medical conditions, but don't have the insurance/funds for their required treatment.

    People are able to get replacement parts for their vehicles at very reasonable prices, while at the same time, helping those who really need it. So it's a win-win situation.

  • edited October 2007
    In or near Wisconsin, you can donate your car to www.rawhide/org.
  • edited October 2007
    Make that
  • edited October 2007
    I donated my old chryco van through the local battered and abused womens shelter. I DID enjoy the tax savings, but the real dilemma i had was not looking around for a family that needed a family van and just giving it to them. In the end i decided to go through the shelter, figuring they would screen the family and have a better idea of who really needed it most.

    They came and took the van away promptly (with a borrowed dealer plate), I saw it while driving by the place as it was being stored until they gave it away, and subsequently saw it a couple of times on the road.

    Unfortunately, I saw the van on the side of the road about four years later. I hope it gave good service until the end.

  • edited October 2007
    I've done it several times in the past but since they changed the rules on valuation, I won't donate anything of significant value. You used to be able to claim the fair market value of the donated vehicle. This was open to abuse and I'm sure many people DID overestimate the REAL value of their donation. Hence the change to actual value the charity gets for the vehicle. However, that means you do not know the true value of your donation until they dispose of it. Furthermore, an unscrupulous person could sell your car for well under the real market value and it would be tough nuts to you, that's all you're going to be able to claim.
  • edited October 2007
    Personally, I prefer to keep them on the road. I like older cars (and yes, I know they aren't as safe) but by "recycling" an old car into a keeper daily driver I save maybe a ton and a half of steel, plastic, glass, &c &c &c. I realize that this is not for everyone, but it sure works for me!

  • edited October 2007
    You're almost completely right. You can only receive the amount realized from the car--if the charity sells it. If you can find a charity that can actually USE the car, you are still entitled to fair market value on your tax return. And most cars that are sold at a typical auction are sold for a lot less than their fair market value--if they are sold for much at all.

    I donated an old Camaro (you could almost R & R the exhaust pipes from inside the car) in 1992 to Volunteers of America and received a credit of $3300 (which I couldn't take, since I didn't itemize). I have attended some of their auctions since and seen a lot of cars that did not make their minimum bid of $100. These cars are probably sold to a local junkyard--sorry, automotive recycling facility--for a lot less than $100, which would make the ultimate tax credit a lot less than $100.
  • edited October 2007
    If you deal with major charities, they will make a real effort to sell the car at a reasonable price. They want you to donate again and want you to tell your friends what a good deal you got for your donation. I donated three cars. All were in fair to good condition. The tow truck driver was amazed each time at the condition of the car (he could drive them away!). Each time I donated to a charity that helped a neighbor with an affliction. It was a different charity each time. The good feeling I got from helping my friends and similarly effected people was of more value to me than the thousand or two that I might have gotten for my 8-year old cars.
  • edited October 2007
    Feeling good is, good. You do know that most if not all of the charities employ outside services to handle all of this donation/recycling business right? How would you feel if the value you thought you were donating to the charity was actually padding the wallets of the people doing the recycling? If I donate a $5000 car, which I have done several times, and the charity ends up with $500 and the rest goes to some clearinghouse operation, I don't feel so good about my donation. Top that off with the fact I cannot even claim it on my taxes anymore and I've got less inclination to donate than before, at least in this fashion. It used to be a better balance of the win-win scenario. This tips the scales against it in my book.
  • edited October 2007
    I've donated 2 cars to my local high school auto shop. This was some years ago, before the tax rules changed, but even then I didn't claim more than $200 or $500. If I have another car that I feel has reached its end-of-life, and they have to be pretty much unusable for that, then I may donate to them again. The deduction is not all that important. I figure if a high school still has an auto shop and actually teaches mechanics, it's worth supporting because so many have disappeared.
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