Car Donation 101: Everything You Need to Know About Car Donation

Car Donation Guide

There are a lot of reasons to consider utilizing that old car for a car donation. Not only are there tax benefits to you, but it can be hugely beneficial, and even life-saving, for people who are benefiting from your donation. This guide is meant to provide you all the information and resources you need to seriously consider and carry out your car donation.

Why Donate a Car and Who Does it Help?

No matter how reliable a car has been, or how carefully you’ve nursed it along; cars over time and miles, end up costing more than they are worth to fix.  When that scale tips, it’s a good time to consider donating that car to charity. Car donation is simple and fast solution. The car is towed for free and will benefit the needy and deserving people in your community. Also, it’s a tax deductible gift when given to a 501 (c)(3).  Therefore donating to charity is:

  • Simple 
  • Free 
  • Tax Deductible

To read more about why you should consider donating your car, read Why Should I Donate My Car to Charity?

Utah Car Donation |

How Does My Car Donation Help Kidney Patients?

When you donate your car to Kidney Kars of Utah & Idaho, we sell the car at auction, on consignment, or for parts/recycling.  Proceeds earned from the sale, provide life-saving kidney patient services in Utah and Idaho. A few of our programs include:

  • Medications & Emergency Medical Financial Aid
  • Housing & Transportation 
  • Dental Work (to qualify for the transplant waiting list, patients must have all dental up to date)
  • Renal (Kidney) nutritional supplements that allow patients to qualify for a transplant
  • Transplant Youth Camp
  • Kidney Patient Educational Scholarships (geared toward employment training /vocational rehabilitation)
  • Free Community Kidney Health Screenings

Learn more about the details of how your car donation actually helps kidney patients here: Why Should I Donate My Car to Charity?

How to Donate a car? Step-by-Step

You can call the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho directly at 1-800-TOW-KARS (800-869-5277) or (801) 226-5111 or go online to   You’ll need to have your title in hand, and approximate car mileage.  Once they have the information they need the car will be assigned a tow company and you will receive an email with the name of the assigned towing company.  The towing company will call/text you within 24 hours to set up a pick up time for the following day. So pick up can take as little as 48 hours (Kidney Kars picks up cars every day but Sundays).

  1. Find your title (or if you’ve lost it, call the local charity office to apply for a duplicate title)
  2. Write down the car’s mileage.
  3. Call 1-800-TOW-KARS (800-869-5277) or (801) 226-5111 to donate, or visit to submit the information.
  4. You’ll receive an email confirming the donation with the phone number of the towing company.
  5. The Towing Company will text/call you within 24 hours to set a time for pick up.
  6. You’ll be emailed a tax receipt for your charitable gift!

For a more in-depth look on how to donate your car, read How to Donate a Car to Kidney Kars of Utah & Idaho

How Does Car Pick up Work?

Once The National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho has the information they need about the car (VIN, Title#, car mileage, location, your phone & email) the towing company will text or call you. The Kidney Foundation will have emailed you their number, so you can verify they are who they say they are. Once the tow company has set the pickup time you’ll need to clean out your car of personal belongings (don’t forget the garage door opener!). Please remove your license plates.   The towing company will also ask you sign the title over to the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho, and leave it with the keys in the car.  See? The car pick up is the easiest part of donating a car!

To summarize:

  1. Once the information is received you will receive an e-mail confirmation with the phone number of the towing agency.
  2. Towing agency will call you within 24 hours to set a time for towing.
  3. Towing company will come get the car (no need to be present if you’ve left the keys & title signed over to the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho in the vehicle prior to the pick up appointment).

For a more in-depth explanation of the pick up process, read How Does the Kidney Foundation Pick Up Work?

Where Should I Donate my Car?

Well, we’re biased.  But we think you should donate locally to the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho’s Kidney Kars program.  Kidney Kars is Utah’s original and number one choice for charity car donation. Donating locally assures you better control over how your donation is used and how much the charity benefits. It allows you reliable research and local support if something goes wrong.  If you donate your car to a charity out of state you take your chances. Wherever you decide to donate, be sure to check the Division of Consumer Protection to be sure the charity is receiving at least 75% of all proceeds and using no more than 25% for administration.  

  1. Make it local, ask phone operators where they are located.  If not in your state, try another charity.
  2. Check with the Division of Consumer Protection to ask how much of your car donation benefits the charity.
  3. Be wary of out-of-state car donation charities with no local presence in your community.

If you’re looking for a reputable car donation charity, read this article to learn more about what to watch for: How to Find Reputable Car Donation Charities for Your Donation

What to Watch Out For (How to Know My Car Donation Will Help)

It’s important to know who you’re donating to, and what they’re doing in your community that’s of service.  ESPECIALLY watch out for charities who offer you something in return for your car donation (a vacation or hotel voucher). Charities who give you something other than a tax deduction in return for the donation are likely giving very little to the charity.  Also, the cost of the voucher eliminates the tax deductibility of your charitable gift. Be wary of out of state car donation programs. More often than not, out-of-state charities, with no presence in your state are giving very little (as little as 5% to the non-profit).  Kidney Kars of Utah & Idaho receives 100% of the proceeds, manages their car donation program locally, benefits Utah and Idaho kidney patients with life-saving programs and is registered at the Utah State Division of Consumer Protection. Be aware of who you are calling or what link you are using to donate.  Call locally 1-800-TOW-KARS or (801) 226-5111 or visit  and ASK where you are calling.  Be sure they operators are in or the website is registered to a Utah or Idaho based charity!

To conclude, watch out for:

  1. Charities who offer vacation/hotel vouchers (gifts or cash for your donation eliminates the tax deductibility of your gift).
  2. Charities who have no presence in your state.
  3. Phone operators who are outside of the State of Utah or Idaho.

Again, if you’re looking for a reputable car donation charity, read this article to learn more about what to watch for: How to Find Reputable Car Donation Charities for Your Donation

Tax Considerations for Car Donation

Car donations made to a verified 501(c)(3) are tax deductible, and can reduce your taxable income (lowering your tax liability).  So it’s important to know if you are donating to a 501 (c)(3). The official tax receipt should contain the charity’s EIN/FEIN# and a statement that no goods or services were received in exchange for your donation.

The tax deduction generally applies to those who itemize deductions on their 1040 federal tax return. The amount of the tax deduction depends on the actual sale value of the Kidney Kar donation.

You are allowed to claim a fair market value up to $499 unless the vehicle sells for $500 or more. If your Kidney Kar donation is sold for more than $500, you can claim the actual sale value as your deduction. Please check with a tax professional regarding your personal tax benefit.

IRS Publications 4303 and 526 (found here: and here: )

  1. Donate to a 501(c)(3)
  2. Make sure the charity isn’t giving you anything in return (hotel or vacation voucher) which will cancel the deductibility of your car donation.
  3. The IRS will allow you to claim up to $499 or the car’s actual selling price (whichever is higher) to reduce your tax able income.

Learn more about the Tax Benefits of Donating a Car.


TowKars National Kidney Foundation Car Donation