A car may be one of the most necessary assets to some people. Unless you live somewhere with a great public transportation system such as New York or Seattle, it can be difficult to get around and run errands without a vehicle. Having a car also saves people time from activities like walking or setting up carpools, allowing them to focus on what really needs to be done. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford a car.
Places to Get a Free Car for People in Need
If you are in need of a car but cannot afford one, there are organizations and programs that can help you get a free vehicle if you are considered eligible according to their criteria. Continue on for a list of 10 such organizations and programs
Cars 4 Christmas, which is also known as C4C, is a non-profit charity organization that takes in donated cars and redistribute them to those who need a vehicle.
Cars 4 Christmas accepts cars that are donated by donors and gives them directly to those who are in need of a vehicle instead of selling the car and using the proceeds to buy a different one like some charities. Because of this, they only donate a few hundreds of cars a year. Considering they receive about 15,000 applications annually, the chance of you getting a car is somewhat slim. Although the number of car giveaways is a little low, Cars 4 Christmas aims to make each donation special by filling each car with groceries and cleaning products.
Cars 4 Heroes is non-profit charity organization that is operated by the same people who operate Cars 4 Christmas. The difference between the two charities is that while Cars 4 Christmas gives away cars to any individual who is in need of a vehicle, Cars 4 Heroes only gives away cars to veterans and first responders as well as their families.
3. Good News Garage
The mission of Good News Garage is to repair cars that have been donated to them and then give the cars away to those who are in need of a vehicle. If you donate your car to Good News Garage, they will provide free towing services so you don’t have to worry about driving the car to the garage. The founder of Good News Garage envisioned a garage where those who are struggling can come to and receive a free vehicle that potentially helps them improve their lives.
Car donors also receive a tax deduction for donating their cars; the tax deduction value can go up to the car’s market value. Thanks to this system, both the donors and those who receive the car get some benefits.
4. 1-800-Charity Cars
1-800-Charity Cars is a program that aims to provide low-income families with a vehicle. As this program provides cars to low-income families, in order to receive a car you must have an income at or below 200% of the poverty level but are still able to afford fees that come with having a car, including car insurance and registration.
If you meet the income criteria, you will need to fill out an application form on their website. On the application, you will be asked to write about your story, why you need a vehicle, and how having a vehicle would improve your life. Stories from applicants will be voted on and the writers of stories with the highest number of votes will receive a car.
OnlineCarDonation.org strives to provide benefits to both car donors and those who receive a car from the program. As a car donor, you will receive a tax deduction, free towing, and free vacation (hotel or cruise) if your car’s market value is over $500. As someone who receives a car, of course you have the benefit of owning a car for free.
OnlineCarDonation.org gives away cars to applicants that meet the criteria:
- Those who are victims of domestic abuse, especially women
- Families that are living in homeless shelters, whether they have children or not
- People with a physical disability (but are still able to drive a car)
- Families that are trying to move away from public assistance
- Families of veterans and/or soldiers
- Other non-profit charity organizations
OnlineCarDonation.com is similar to OnlineCarDonation.org in providing benefits to both car donors and car receivers. When you donate your car to OnlineCarDonation.com, you receive a tax break and a free hotel or Bahamas Cruise vacation.
OnlineCarDonation.com is a nationwide-program, thus they accept donations from all 50 U.S. states. The program aims to help people who struggle with homelessness, illiteracy, poverty, and other social-economic problems by providing them a free car as a new start.
Goodwill is a popular charity as they accept pretty much anything donated by anyone. If there is a chance that someone donated a car to your local Goodwill, they may be able to help you find a vehicle if you talk to them about your needs and situation.
If Goodwill does not have a donated car in stock, they are still likely to have connections with many other charity organizations and possibly dealerships that offer free or affordable vehicles.
8. With Causes
With Causes is a charity organization that is a part of the Giving Center and does a variety of things: accepting donated vehicles and giving them to those in need; accepting financial help and distributing it to those in need; helping victims of domestic abuse; and more.
With Causes accepts computer, real estate, collectibles, and vehicle donations (including boats and aircrafts). When applying for assistance on the website, be sure to specify in details what you are looking for (financial support, a car, a computer, etc.) so that they can match you with a gift that best suits your needs.
9. Vehicles for Change
Vehicles for Change is another program you can come to if you are in need of a vehicle and have difficulties affording one.
Vehicles for Change typically does not give away cars for free. Instead, they offer low-interest car loans to families that meet their criteria, both giving them an opportunity to afford a car as well as building credit. Additionally, Vehicles for Change helps those in need look for jobs and have training courses that help people become mechanics and have a stable career upon graduation.
10. Modest Needs
Modest Needs is not a charity organization that gives out free vehicles like the other websites listed on here. Instead, Modest Needs offers loans to low-income families who need financial support. With a loan from Modest Needs, you can get some help in buying the car you need.
I Need a Car but Can’t Afford One. What Do I Do?
Cars can be a necessity, especially if you live in a region where public transportation is not readily available or accessible to everyone, especially in rural areas. If you need a car but can’t afford one, you can do one of the followings:
- Apply for a car through a private charity organization. However, please be aware that your application may take a very long time to get approved as there are usually many more applicants than donated cars. You may never get a vehicle if there are applicants who are much more in need of assistance, such as run-away battered spouses with children or disabled veterans (who can still drive)
- Apply for a car loan. There are car loan programs that lend to people with a low-income and/or bad credit. However, if you apply for one of these loans, you may need to prove your income and many car loan programs have a minimum income requirement (often around $1,600). Low-income car loans may also have a higher interest as you are considered more at-risk of defaulting on your loan
- Apply for a grant. There are programs from both the federal government and private organizations that give grants to those in need. The program Modest Needs mentioned in the article is one of those resources you can use. You can use these grants to buy a vehicle or finance other needs
- Seek help from friends and family members. Sometimes your friends and family members are willing to help you out in times of financial difficulties by loaning you some money to buy a car, selling their car to you at a low price with low to no interest, or letting you borrow their car. Unfortunately, not everyone has friends and family members that are willing or able to help them
- Talk to your church (although I use the word “church”, it can refer to any religious community you attend regardless of what your religion is). Many churches have caring pastors, fathers, imams, etc. (depending what your religion is) that wants to see that their members are supported when they need help. Because of this, many churches have funds reserved especially for people who need help and are willing to ask for help. Many churches will also raise money among themselves to help members who are in need. If you need some help with getting a car or financial support, you may want to contact your church and ask for assistance
- Talk to local charities. While local charities may not be able to help you with getting a car, they may be able to connect you with dealerships or other charities that can help you. Additionally, they may be able to help with other needs such as food, clothing, etc. should you need them
- Raise funds for yourself. With the help of social media and the Internet nowadays, people from all around the world who don’t even know you personally may choose to help you. You can either start a campaign and post it onto your social media website or use GoFundMe.com to raise money for yourself to buy the vehicle you need
How Long Does It Take to Get a Free Vehicle from Charities?
As there are many more applicants than there are donated cars available, it may be a long time before you can get a free vehicle from charities, if ever. This is a sad reality as car owners are more likely to sell or trade-in their car for the highest market price possible instead of donating their cars, especially if the car is still in decent condition.
Because of this, if you need a vehicle quickly, you may want to apply for a grant or find low-interest car loans instead.
I’m Not Getting a Car Anytime Soon. What Are Some Alternatives?
It can be a very frustrating and anxiety-inducing situation to not have access to the transportation method you need, especially if you live in a region where public transportation is not readily available or accessible. Therefore, if you have exhausted all options and it still looks like you will not be able to obtain a car anytime soon, you can opt for other options:
- Rent a car when you really need one. I’m not talk about ride-sharing services Uber or Lyft (those can be expensive, I know). I’m talking about renting a whole car for a day or a whole week if you really need one. There are ways to rent cars for a cheap price that doesn’t involve car rental companies. Turo.com is one website where people can post their for-rent cars so that those who need to rent a car have access to one. You can look for the car that is closest to you with the most affordable rate on the website
- Take public transportation. If buses or trains are available and accessible where you live, consider using them instead. While this might mean that you need to map out your transits, destinations, and learn about what time your bus or train will arrive and depart, it is still a reasonable alternative to having a car
- Consider using a bike or scooter. If you have a bike or scooter, you may be able to use it to run errands. Riding a bike or scooter on the road may be nerve-wrecking at first (look at all those cars driving by!), but you will get used to it. Moreover, you don’t need to spend money on gas, car insurance, or car loans. If you live in a metropolitan area, you may be able to rent a bike or scooter at an affordable rate
- Skateboarding. Skateboards and electric skateboards are also good alternatives to owning a car, especially if you travel short distances. Skateboards are as fast as riding a bike and take up much less space; while you can carry a skateboard into most buildings and put it in a corner, you can’t really do that with a bike. Although skateboarding is difficult in the beginning, it can even be fun once you get used to it
- Schedule carpools. If a neighbor is taking their kid to the same school your kid goes to, they may be willing to drive your kid as well (if you ask). If a friend goes grocery shopping on the weekend and is willing to drive you, you may be able to do your grocery shopping on the weekend as well while getting a ride. If you feel bad for receiving free rides or carpools, you can always offer to chip in for gas
I Have a Car Now. How Do I Maximize Its Use?
If you receive a vehicle, either through a private charity or by buying it with a grant or loan, it’s time to put it to good use (and congratulations to you for getting a car!). If you think about it, most of the time cars just sit in the garage or in the driveway. If you do not want your car to sit idle for most of the day, there are ways to maximize its use and even make some money:
- Partner with ride-sharing services. Uber and Lyft are two popular companies that let drivers act as independent contractors and drive people for payment. Both companies take a certain percentage from your paycheck as service fee, but in exchange you get to use their platform to find customers. Some requirements to being an Uber or Lyft driver include having a valid driver’s license, having car insurance, being at least 18 years of age, and going through a background check. While Uber has a larger customer base and is available in more states than Lyft, Lyft often receives better reviews from drivers who praise the company for creating a warm working environment for independent contractors
- Deliver food. There are so many food deliveries services out there nowadays: Uber Eats, DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates, to name only a few. All of them are quite similar to one another: the customer orders something, the app sends the restaurant their order while the driver drives to the restaurant to pick up the order; after picking up the customer’s order, the driver delivers food to the customer and receives a payment in return (hopefully along with some tips!). If you’re willing to brave the traffic during dining hours, you can make some extra money by delivering food to customers
- Become a personal shopper for Instacart. Instacart lets shoppers earn some extra money by shopping grocery orders from customers. Instacart shoppers pay for these orders with a prepaid debit card to ensure their own money is secure should the customer default on the order. After completing your shopping trip, you deliver the order to the address provided by the customer and receive some payment in return (again, hopefully along with some tips)
- Rent out your car when it is not in use. If you are not using your car but don’t have time to do ride sharing, food delivering, or shopping for customers, you can rent it out for some extra money. Turo.com is one website that allows you to do so. The website lets you set your own rate and the car’s availability. Interested renters will contact you and both of you can negotiate a time and place to meet to give renters the car keys. This is a good way to earn some extra cash from your vehicle instead of letting it sit in the garage
Does the Government Give Out Free Vehicles?
At the moment, there are no government programs that give away free vehicles. You will need to look for other resources such as private charities to obtain a free vehicle.
The government offers support in other ways if you are struggling financially: providing assistance with food, low-income housing, affordable health insurance to low-income individuals, and sometimes financial support.
Sometimes, receiving a free car may count as additional income. This will be troublesome if you are receiving government support as it may make you ineligible for continuing to receive this support. Because of this, if you are receiving government support such as food or healthcare assistance, be sure to check the asset and income regulations and rules prior to accepting a free vehicle.
There are a variety of resources available for those who are in need of a vehicle to get a free car if they cannot afford a car: private charity organizations, organizations that give away grants, car loans, and help from family members and friends. If you cannot secure a car that is affordable for you, you may want to consider opting for other options such as biking or skateboarding in the meantime. A car can be a very helpful necessity, so I hope that you will be able to secure an affordable and reliable vehicle soon.