Frequently Asked Questions | Vehicle Donations

Even though we make donating to American Rivers easy, we understand that you may have additional questions regarding the vehicle donation process, tax deductions, and motor vehicle regulations. We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help provide answers to questions you may have about donating your used car, truck, RV, boat, camper or other vehicle.

If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Donor Support Line at: 844-558-GIVE (4483).

The Vehicle Donation Process

How do I check on the status of my car or get other answers?

We are available seven days a week. Please call 844-558-GIVE (4483). or email to get the answers to your questions.

Hours of Operation (EST):

8:00am - 10:00pm (EST), Mon - Fri
9:00am - 8:00pm (EST), Saturday
11:00am - 7:30pm (EST), Sunday

What are the benefits of donating a vehicle to American Rivers?

It’s easy, fun, free and secure! We convert vehicles into cash, which becomes a welcome donation to American Rivers. Your gift may qualify for a tax deduction and you avoid the cost and hassle of repairing or selling a car you no longer want.

Are there any costs?

No. There is no cost to the donor. All expenses are deducted from the gross sales price, and if the costs ever exceed the price, those costs are covered by CARS, our vehicle donation program provider.

What types of vehicles do you accept?

All vehicles are considered! We strive to accept all types of donated vehicles, running or not, including cars, trucks, trailers, boats, RVs, motorcycles, campers, off-road vehicles, planes, heavy equipment, farm machinery, and most other motorized vehicles. To find out if we can accept your vehicle, please complete our secure online vehicle donation form, or call us toll-free at 844-558-GIVE (4483) during regular hours of operation.

Does my car have to be registered?

This varies from state to state. Each Vehicle Donor Service Representative is equipped with a 50-state guide for the steps necessary in each state and will advise you of these steps during the donation process.

Do I need a smog certificate or safety inspection to donate my vehicle?

No. For states with this requirement, you may donate your vehicle without a smog certificate or safety inspection.

My car doesn’t run or hasn’t been used in years. Can I still donate it?

Yes! We can accept most vehicles, running or not. However, it must be in one piece and towable, have an engine, and be tow truck accessible. To find out if we can accept your vehicle, please complete our secure online vehicle donation form, or call us toll-free 844-558-GIVE (4483) seven days a week during regular hours of operation.

Where do I sign my Title?

It varies, so please wait to mark the Title until after you have discussed it with the vendor picking up your vehicle as they are experts in your local area. If you have questions, you can call our toll-free number 844-558-GIVE (4483) to speak a representative.

Can you pick up vehicles in all 50 states?

Yes! Our vehicle donation program can provide quick and convenient vehicle pick-up and towing just about anywhere in all 50 states. We provide vehicle donation processing in the contiguous 48 states as well as the District of Columbia, without limitation. In Alaska, we service the Fairbanks and Anchorage areas with a 50-mile service radius. In Hawaii, we service the island of Oahu and the island of Hawaii. If you are outside of Washington,D.C, and have questions about donating to American Rivers, please contact us via our secure online vehicle donation form, or call us toll-free at 844-558-GIVE (4483) seven days a week during regular hours of operation.

How will my vehicle be picked up?

Once you have provided us with all necessary information via the online vehicle donation form or over the phone with one of our Vehicle Donor Support Representatives, we will arrange to have a licensed tow company pick up your vehicle at a time convenient for you. The vehicle will be picked up and taken to one of our many sale locations where it will be sold—all at no cost to you.

How quickly can I have my vehicle picked up?

In many cases, once the donation record has been created, we can schedule the vehicle to be picked up on the initial call. In other cases, we will contact you within two to three business days to schedule a convenient appointment time with one of our preferred vendors. If you need your car picked up sooner, please let one of our Vehicle Donor Support Representatives know during your initial call. We will do our best to accommodate your time frame. For more specific information pertaining to your vehicle donation, please call us at 844-558-GIVE (4483) during regular hours of operation.

What do you do with donated vehicles?

Donated vehicles are sold through the used-car markets and provide crucial funding for American Rivers programs. We work with a very large network of nationwide and independent vendors to sell the vehicle and maximize donation proceeds. We analyze vendor pricing and performance on a regular basis to improve the process and ensure the best possible return for American Rivers and to maximize the donor’s tax benefit. For unique or specialty items that have been donated, we may use other means to sell the vehicle to help ensure the maximum funds are received for each donation.

How long is the entire process from the pickup to when American Rivers receives its funds?

We have multiple sales outlets and work hard to find the best buyer for each vehicle. The entire sale process may take four to 12 weeks. The net cash proceeds from your generous vehicle donation are sent to American Rivers within five business days upon the receipt of the sale proceeds from CARS auction or direct buyer providers.

What if I don’t have the Title or have Title issues?

In most states, you will need the clear Title to the vehicle. But if you do not have it, or have problems with your Title, please call us anyway. It is possible that other arrangements may be made. Any lien holder listed on the Title must be cleared and/or released by the bank. Please refer to the motor vehicle division in your state for clear instructions. We are also available seven days a week during regular hours of operation. Please call us toll-free at 844-558-GIVE (4483).

Are cars sold at auction?

We carefully evaluate each vehicle to find the best buyers. We assess the year, make, model, location, and resale potential then monitor the sale to ensure maximum returns. In most cases, vehicles are sold through an auction facility. High-end or specialty vehicles are individually evaluated and sold for the highest market value.

Will I be notified when it sells?

Yes. Once your vehicle sells, we will either email and/or mail a thank-you letter on behalf of American Rivers, which serves as tax receipt a copy of your tax receipt. Please note that if your vehicle sells for more than $500 and your tax identification number has been provided, an IRS Form 1098-C, ‘Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes’, will be mailed to you within 30 days of the sale stating the amount of gross proceeds received from your donation.

Who operates the American Rivers Vehicle Donation Program?

*CARS, Inc. (Charitable Adult Rides & Services) runs the American Rivers Vehicle Donation Program. CARS is an ISO 9001 certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Diego that operates under the governance of an independent board of directors and specializes in vehicle donation services for other nonprofits. CARS follows governmental compliance with all IRS and state regulations concerning vehicle donation programs, fundraising registrations, and charitable receipting requirements throughout all 50 states and Canada, as required. CARS has also maintained an A+ Better Business Bureau rating for over 10 years.

Vehicle Donation Tax Benefits

Is my vehicle donation tax-deductible?

Yes! Vehicle donations are tax-deductible. Individual tax situations vary. For specific tax- related questions, please consult your tax advisor or refer to IRS Publication 4303.

How is the value of my tax deduction determined?

Most vehicles are sold through local wholesale auctions and we work to get the highest return per vehicle for you and American Rivers. According to the IRS Guidelines, you may claim fair market value for your donation up to the actual sale value. If your vehicle is sold for more than $500, the maximum amount