About Vehicle Values

Vehicle Valuations

A common question vehicle donors ask is: How much is my vehicle worth? This question is important because it impacts not only the potential tax deduction a donor might receive but also how much proceeds will be left to benefit the charity.

To answer this question, it is important to recognize that the objective of our Vehicle Donation Program is to efficiently, quickly and reliably convert donated vehicles into the cash a charity needs to do its good works, while making it safe and easy for donors to donate, and ensuring that the charity has no exposure to liability. Donated vehicles are sold, therefore, in the wholesale auto markets, the same auto auctions used by auto dealers for trade-ins, insurance companies and fleet owners.

Cars sold in this wholesale market are sold at a lower price in contrast to owners selling to private parties through newspaper or internet ads. So an owner’s valuation of an older, reliable vehicle may be much higher than the price paid by a wholesale auction buyer. Vehicles over 10 years old routinely will not sell at an auction price that covers towing, title transfer, auction and processing costs, instead they are sold to dismantlers for their parts or recycling value. Because of these factors, resources such as Kelly Blue Book or N.A.D.A (National Automobile Dealers Association) can be unreliable in placing a wholesale value on a vehicle. It is worth noting that virtually all national vehicle donation programs sell vehicles in this same wholesale marketplace.

Additionally, once we receive a donated vehicle we do a survey of the estimated wholesale value of the car based on year, make, model, mileage, location and condition as reported by the donor. On the basis of this information we make a determination of which marketplace is best to maximize value and minimize costs.

Vehicles over 12 years old have a high likelihood of being sold directly to a recycler, dismantler or scrap dealer. Prices for these vehicles have ranged between $100 and $250 during the last several years. Typically a sale of this type will not have towing or auction fees but will have the $50 title, tax and DMV processing fees.