When the time comes to get a new vehicle, a lot of focus is put on the buying process. Fair enough; it’s where your money is going, after all. Shiny new cars are fun, but don’t forget about your faithful old steed. You’ll need to let it move on, but how should you do that? Two main options present themselves: You can trade it in or sell it privately.
Trading it in is quicker and more convenient, but you won't get nearly as much as you could if you sold it on the private market. There's also the problem of being underwater; if you still owe on your car, you'll be more able to pay off the loan if you sell it privately than if you trade it in. If you're not in a hurry and can bear to be without a car for a while, then selling on the private market is a pretty good bet. Again, research here is key; getting taken by a smart buyer is no more fun than taking a hit on your trade-in.
If you are feeling particularly generous, there is a lesser-known third option: donating your car. It's fast, easy, and tax deductible. There are many places that will accept your old car and like always, the Internet is one of the best places to learn how. America's Car Donation Center, Habitat for Humanity, and even your local public radio station will all accept old cars. Donation is a great option for people with aging or mechanically deficient vehicles.
Kim Schloss, a manager with CarsHelpingAmerica.org says that donation has a slew of benefits over trying to sell your car by yourself.
“Usually cars that get donated aren’t in sellable condition,” she said. “By donating your car, you aren’t susceptible to any lemon laws and there’s a tax deduction for the vehicle.”
Most charities don’t deal with donated cars directly, which is why there are institutions like CarsHelpingAmerica that can take the vehicles, repair them enough to be fit for the road, sell them and then pass the proceeds to whatever charity you choose. In the end, you get a tax deduction worth up to $500 right off the bat and your charity gets some much-needed funds. Schloss says that if the donor’s car ends up selling for more than $500, her organization will send them a deduction receipt for the new specified amount.
What’s more, the car is removed from your property free of charge and it can be in any condition so long as you have the title. Not a bad way to go.
“Some charities are looking for cars to give to their patrons,” Schloss said. “In that case, the donor can then write off the full Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle.”
If you’ve got a charity in mind, pick up the phone and give them a call. If they don’t accept direct vehicle donations, odds are CarsHelpingAmerica can lend a hand.
It’s not too likely, but in some cases you may even be better off scrapping your car. That doesn’t mean your old ride will end up in a landfill somewhere. These days nearly every part of a vehicle can be stripped down and reused later on – kind of like the ultimate version of recycling. Plus, most scrappers will pay you for your derelict set of wheels.
You clearly have options beyond the trade-in route. Choose wisely, and you’ll have no regrets when you part with your old vehicle.