MSN: How to get rid of your old car.

Can’t Get Rid of Your Old Junker?

Here are five ways to clear your driveway of that clunker without taxing the environment or your wallet.

By James Tate of MSN Autos

Loading SUV on Flatbed (© Thinkstock/Corbis)Click to enlarge picture

Just because you have no more use for your old ride doesn’t mean someone can’t make good use of it.

No two ways about it, Americans are holding on to their cars longer. According to a recent study by automotive industry analyst R. L. Polk & Co., the average life span for a motor vehicle in the United States is now 112.8 months. That means cars are staying on the road more than 12 months longer than a decade ago.

While the reasons Americans are keeping their tired old cars and trucks longer than ever before are varied — ranging from fluctuating gas prices to uncertainty about the future of U.S. auto manufacturers — there is one common thread. “Customers are delaying purchases of new vehicles because their discretionary income has fallen,” says Dave Goebel, a consultant with Polk.

Although we know times are tough and money is tight, there is one problem with keeping your car longer: What do you do with the old clunker when you can’t bear to spend any more money on it? Dealers aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to accept trade-ins that have enough miles on the odometer to have driven to the moon and back. Neither are private buyers. But that doesn’t mean you simply have to dump it in a dirty old junkyard and further stress Mother Earth.

Here are five ways to send your old car on its way that will keep your environmental conscience and driveway clear.

1. Make a charity-specific donation
Most charities accept automobile donations no matter what its condition — just call and ask. Usually, towing is free or inexpensive, and you get a tax-deductible voucher for the book value of your car. After the charity of your choice scoops up what’s left of your prized vehicle, it will usually either try to repair the car well enough to sell, or it will sell the hunk of metal for scrap.

For example, Kidney Cars will happily accept cars, trucks, vans and boats as charitable donations. According to its Web site, the National Kidney Foundation uses any money realized from your vehicle for everything from public education to medical research. And here’s the best part: If it happens to earn more on the sale than the value of your voucher, you’ll get another receipt for the full amount of the deduction. Remember, the newer your car and the better its condition, the larger the write-off.

Some charities may refuse to accept a vehicle that doesn’t run, while others will accept cars and trucks no matter what their condition. Either way, charity-specific donations are a win-win for everyone involved.

2. Make a general donation
If your favorite charity isn’t interested in taking a broken-down auto off your hands, you can still turn the heap into a donation. There are hundreds of organizations all over the country that will pick up your car free of charge, sell or scrap it, and then give the proceeds of the sale to any charity you choose. The best part is you still get the tax deduction, just like in a charity-specific donation, and you are contributing to a cause you care about. There are as many Web sites dedicated to helping you donate your old car as there are reasons you want to get rid of it.