How to get a free car: new and old cars for low-income families

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You live in an area where cars serve as the primary mode of transportation. However, you’re not in a position to purchase a vehicle right now, so you scour the net for cheap cars under $1,000.

Fortunately, you don’t have to get an unreliable bucket. Several charity organizations and private institutions provide free car programs for the needy.

You wouldn’t get a brand-new car, but you’ll receive a reliable private mode of transportation after passing their screening process.

If a free vehicle would help you financially, keep reading. We put together a comprehensive guide enumerating reputable organizations that support low-income families with free cars. You’ll also gain insights into their application procedures.

Moreover, you can feel at ease knowing that all the information listed below is 100% legitimate. We go above and beyond to verify sources.

Read until the end to learn how to get a free car in California, Massachusetts, Florida, or Missouri, among other states.

Otherwise, you might waste your time on programs you don’t even qualify for and end up dealing with the same transportation issues.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Can You Really Get a Car for Free?

Contrary to popular belief, car ownership is not reserved for the middle and upper class. Many charity institutions and non-government organizations (NGOs) help low-income households secure reliable vehicles.

Of course, they don’t just provide ​​free cars for all unemployed individuals that seek help. You’ll have to undergo a screening process. 

Different organizations, agencies, and government institutions enforce varying application requirements, which they often provide upon request. However, they do share some similar points.

You have a higher chance of receiving a free car donation if you classify as any of the following:

Single Mother

Few single mothers have the financial capacity to sustain their children. Statistics even show that 19% of white, non-Hispanic households led by single mothers live below the poverty line.

If you fall under this category, you should take advantage of the various assistance programs aimed at financially challenged breadwinners—including vehicle assistance. Share your story with government agencies and NGOs.

However, expect the competition for free cars to be tight. Over 15,400 families in the US have a single female householder, and not everyone can receive financial aid.

Veteran

Veterans have devoted their lives to the country. Not every veteran returns home safely, but the government makes sure to provide lifelong financial support to those who do.

As such, if you or someone in your family has served in the military, you might have a shot at getting a free car. Charitable organizations typically focus on injured veterans and military dependents of deceased veterans.

College Student from a Poor Family

Although some universities and charity organizations provide college students with free cars, they have stringent screening procedures. After all, most students do fine without a vehicle.

In most cases, you’ll only get a free car if you’re a college student from a low-income family, attend tuition classes, participate in multiple extracurricular activities, and have a part-time job. 

However, screening doesn’t stop here. Expect the donating organization to check your academic performance and family life as well.

Breadwinners generally have higher chances of qualifying. If you work part-time to support your siblings, parents, or even cousins, you might qualify for a free car.

Orphan Keeper

If you run an orphanage, reach out to NGOs focused on childcare services for vehicular assistance. Many organizations provide financial aid to orphan keepers.

Note that your chances of getting approved also depend on your location. Generally, NGOs grant free cars to orphanages in rural, isolated areas with little to no transportation.

However, urban-based urban dwellers still have a shot at approval. 

You can still secure a free automobile if you regularly transport orphaned children to school, medical appointments, and extracurricular activities.

Low-Income Earner

Institutions providing vehicle assistance typically focus on different marginalized sectors. For instance, some support single mothers, while others help veterans.

However, almost all these institutions will only provide some form of financial aid if you live within or below the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). 

You need to demonstrate the financial inability to pay for basic transportation needs. 

As of 2021, The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) states that the poverty threshold is $12,880 and $31,040 for single-person and five-person households, respectively.

Does the Government Have Free Vehicle Programs?

Although state and federal government bodies don’t provide free cars, you can use welfare programs and grants to purchase one.

The qualifications vary on a case-by-case basis, but most organizations focus on low-income households with a dire need for private transportation.

Welfare Car Voucher – The Car Government Program

The government doesn’t give free money, but individuals from low-income households can seek help with their finances by requesting grant funds. 

Several government-funded programs focus on financial aid. 

The best option for applicants who need transportation assistance is Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

It’s an extensive welfare program geared toward supporting poor families. You wouldn’t get a free car, but TANF can provide you with the funds to purchase a used vehicle.

However, you have to prove that your family needs transportation assistance. Expect the TANF agents to assess how you’ll use your car for daily chores, child support, and job preparation.

It’s an extensive welfare program geared toward supporting poor families. You wouldn’t get a free car, but TANF can provide you with the funds to purchase a used vehicle.

However, you have to prove that your family needs transportation assistance. Expect the TANF agents to assess how you’ll use your car for daily chores, child support, and job preparation.

Where Is It Available?

TANF provides countrywide assistance, but your state decides on the TANF program’s structure, requirements, and aid limitations. 

Charity Organizations That Provide Free Cars

Federal and state government agencies only provide transportation assistance to a few qualified individuals. Their welfare programs typically focus on employment and childcare support.

If your application didn’t pass the screening process, try your luck with charity institutions and non-governmental organizations. 

There are dozens that focus on transportation assistance. You might even have a better shot at getting your free car from third-party donors than the government.

Some of the most reputable, long-standing charity institutions providing transportation assistance include:

1-800-Charity Cars and Free Charity Cars

1-800-Charity Cars stands as the number one car donation company in the country today. 

It has already donated 4,500+ vehicles countrywide over the past decades, and they plan on releasing even more.

Who Is It For?

1-800-Charity Cars caters to various individuals, including:

  • Domestic violence victims
  • Low-income households
  • Natural disaster victims
  • People with disabilities
  • The working pool
  • Veterans and their families

What Cars Can You Get?

1-800-Charity Cars partners with Free Charity Cars to source used program vehicles from private donors. 

Free Charity Cars handles the application process. Meanwhile, 1-800-Charity Cars scours the market for wealthy individuals looking to donate vehicles for tax write-offs.

Where Is It Available?

Qualified applicants all across the country can reach out to 1-800-Charity Cars for transportation assistance.

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Free Car?

Unfortunately, Free Charity Cars receives thousands of applications daily, and its partner 1-800-Charity Cars can’t keep up with the demand. As such, expect applications to take a couple of months.


Cars4Christmas

Cars4Christmas gives away 20 cars for free once a year during the holiday season. 

In most cases, they perform the awarding ceremony on air, so winners would likely share their stories on national television.

Who Is It For?

The Cars4Christmas team strives to assist a broad range of low-income individuals facing the following challenges:

  • Chronic illnesses or disabilities
  • Loss of direct family member (breadwinner)
  • Natural disasters
  • Psychological and social tragedies

What Cars Can You Get?

Cars4Christmas sources 20 used, reliable vehicles from private donors. 

Although most units already have several thousands of miles on the clock, you can count on them to serve you well for at least another decade.

Where Is It Available?

Cars4Christmas assists applicants from various states. In fact, they filter through over 20,000 application forms annually.

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Free Car?

Cars4Christmas gives away 20 cars annually but receives over 20,000 applicants, so expect the screening process to take some time. 

They might not even acknowledge the receipt of your application form.

Also, they add applicants from previous years to their waiting list. Although they provide free vehicles every year, most people remain on the waiting list for at least three years.


Cars4Heroes

Cars4Heroes is the sister company of Cars4Christmas. 

They also give away free cars during the holiday season, but their awardees solely consist of military personnel and first responders from low-income households.

Who Is It For?

The organization focuses on active military personnel, first responders, veterans, and military dependents. You’ll need to specify your years of active service.

What Cars Can You Get?

Cars4Heroes gives away 13 used yet reliable vehicles to 13 qualified applicants every year. They ensure that all units are in good running condition.

Where Is It Available?

Cars4Heroes is available countrywide. You can submit your application as long as you currently reside in the US.

Documentary Requirements

Prepare the following military service documents upon application:

  • Special honors
  • Military ID
  • Recipient’s Military ID card
  • Recipient’s DD-214

Step by Step Guide for Applying

  1. Head over to the Apply for a Car section of Cars4Heroes and fill out their form.
  2. State your name, address, and contact information.
  3. Input your date of service, rank at discharge, deployments, the branch of service, awards, special honors, and type of discharge.
  4. Upload your proof of your military service and share your story. Explain how having a vehicle would help you and your family financially.
  5. If you pass the initial screening, the team will ask for supporting documents verifying your identity, address, income, and military service.
  6. You’ll receive further instructions if you qualify.

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Free Car?

Cars4Heroes provides free cars per annum. However, most winners waited one to three years before moving forward with the qualification process.


Online Car Donation

Online Car Donation ranks among the most reputable car donation companies in the country. 

Although they’re not as widely known as Cars4Christmas or Free Charity Cars, applicants are drawn to their less stringent requirements.

Who Is It For?

Onlinecardonation.com reviews show that the company caters to a broad audience, including:

  • Domestic abuse victims
  • People with disabilities
  • Homeless families
  • Self-supporting, low-income households
  • Military families
  • Non-profit organizations

What Cars Can You Get?

Online Card Donation gifts various vehicles, such as sedans, SUVs, vans, motorcycles, trucks, and even boats. Of course, donations will vary based on their inventory.

Where Is It Available?

Online Car Donation accepts applicants from all across the country. However, your application might not get approved if you already receive support from government agencies or NGOs. 

Note: Although they have contact numbers plastered all over their website, the Online Car Donation team discourages applicants from using them. Keep the hotline open for donors.

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Free Car?

You can expect Online Car Donations to get back to you after 30 days or less. If you don’t, their team suggests reapplying until you receive some form of confirmation.


Working Cars for Working Families

The Working Cars for Working Families program is held by the National Consumer Law Center. It strives to help low-income families improve their financial situation through reliable, accessible private transportation assistance.

Who Is It For?

As the organization’s name suggests, it focuses on working families who don’t have the means to purchase, rent, or loan a private vehicle. 

Applicants often come from areas with poor public transportation systems.

What Cars Can You Get?

The Working Cars for Working Families program provides free used yet reliable cars. Since they target large households, expect most program vehicles to be crossovers, vans, minivans, or SUVs.

Where Is It Available?

If you’re looking for free cars in Massachusetts, Alaska, or Ohio, consider other car donation institutions. Although they cater to most states, they don’t accept applicants from specific parts of the country (see the full list here).

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Free Car?

The Working Cars for Working Families team receives thousands of applications every week, so don’t expect them to confirm each application. You’ll likely only hear from them if your application gets approved.

The screening process varies on a case-by-case basis. However, considering the volume of applicants and lack of donated program vehicles, most applicants would stay on the waiting list for several years. 

Religious Institutions That Give Away Free Cars

Many religious institutions like churches and fellowships receive used cars as donations. They don’t often get brand-new vehicles with few miles on the clock, but most come in good running condition.

Do churches give free cars for homeless people? 

Religious institutions give out free cars, but they probably wouldn’t send them to homeless individuals whose immediate needs include food, water, clothing, and shelter. 

Instead, they’ll donate used cars to low-income families that need transportation assistance. 

Where Is It Available?

You can reach out to churches and religious organizations giving free cars in Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, or whatever state you live in, but you’ll have better chances with local institutions. Reach out to one that you support and attend. 

Research your prospective institution before asking for free cars. Local churches don’t provide transportation all year round. 

Some institutions choose to flip donated vehicles for profit, then use the funds to support impoverished families in their community. Similarly, other churches put donated cars up for auction.

Documentary Requirements

Various religious institutions have differing requirements. However, expect most programs to ask for the following:

  • income statement
  • bank account
  • social security number
  • identification papers

Rich People Giving Away Free Cars

Yes, a lot of rich people give free cars. It might seem strange, but you’ll see one or two famous personalities getting media coverage for treating their supporters with a free ride.

For instance, let’s look at a famous YouTuber called Mr. Beast. In 2019, he posted a video wherein he gave away a dozen cars to random passers-by, although some were “sold” for $3 to $5. 

Of course, many other wealthy individuals sponsor free cars incognito. They don’t get much recognition or coverage because they don’t have the same massive following.

However, you can’t depend on these types of giveaways for free cars. They don’t come very often, and, in most cases, you’ll only be considered for these if you regularly interact with high-net-worth people.

Other Places To Get Free Cars

Don’t lose hope even if local churches, state agencies, and non-profit organizations reject your request for a free car. There are several other avenues for you to try.

Although not as common, you might encounter one or two people giving out cars for free on the following platforms:

Facebook Marketplace

The chances of coming across free cars on Facebook Marketplace are slim to none. 

People generally use the platform for selling, so even buckets in terrible shape would go for at least $1,000 to $2,000.

A few people occasionally list cars for free, but they’re usually disposing of units that don’t run anymore. As such, expect to pay several grand for repairs. 

Perhaps your best bet would be to look for totaled cars or repossessed units selling way below their market value. Apply for a grant, then use that money to buy a used vehicle.

Bonus Tip

If you don’t score free cars on Marketplace and can’t qualify for welfare grants, look for other free items on Facebook. People usually list junk they want to dispose of quickly online.

Sort your Marketplace listings to Free, then look for items near your location. See which ones you could flip for a profit.

If your earn $3,000 to $5,000 flipping random items online, you’ll already have enough funds to buy a reliable second-hand car

Nextdoor App

Nextdoor app serves as a localized eCommerce platform where users can negotiate with other users within their community. 

People typically offer goods and services here, but you might come across some free items.

Unfortunately, you likely wouldn’t see too many people giving away free cars on the Nextdoor App. However, you can trade services for one.

For instance, let’s say you live near an elderly couple. Although the couple has a running vehicle, they can’t use it anymore due to mobility issues.

In this example, you can offer to drive them around in exchange for letting you use the car for free. You wouldn’t own the car. However, having access to a well-maintained vehicle whenever you want addresses several transportation issues.

Craigslist

You’ll come across quite a few people giving out their cars for free on Craigslist, but don’t expect them to hand the vehicle to you in running condition. 

Calculate everything needed to get the car running again.

You’ll likely get a damaged unit that needs significant repairs and parts replacements. Also, you’d have to meet the seller in person—which might be costly if you live in a different city or state.

Considering all these added expenses, only consider getting free cars from Craigslist if you do auto repairs yourself. That way, you’ll only have to pay for parts.

Crowdfunding

There are several crowdfunding apps online, but GoFundMe has the broadest reach. 

The platform consists of more than 50 million donors who have raised upward of $5 billion in the past decade.

Millions set up GoFundMe accounts every day. You’ll see various users raising money for their vet bills, hospital fees, and even daily expenses.

As long as you don’t mislead your audience with a fake cause, you can use GoFundMe in any way you want. However, prepare to receive backlash if you plan on raising funds solely for a brand-new car. 

Remember: your account will solicit donations. The public typically doesn’t respond well to selfish GoFundMe causes, so don’t just plainly state that you need a new car.

Instead, share your story. Tell the people why you need a car, what you plan on using it for, and how it can help your household financially.

As for donations, GoFundMe only charges a small 5% fee on top of the current payment processing rates. You’ll get to keep everything else.

Can You Get a Free Car From a Dealership?

Car dealerships don’t donate free cars for homeless or impoverished individuals. They run a business, not a charitable institution, so giving out products for free would hurt their profit margins.

However, it’s not impossible to get free cars from dealerships. You could drive home a  brand-new vehicle if you:

Win a Raffle

Local dealerships often host raffle promotions to boost brand awareness. 

You’ll see these events advertised at grocery stores, shopping malls, or even convenience stores.

Widely known companies like Toyota, Honda, and Ford already have a broad marketing reach, so they typically only do raffle draws during the holidays. 

Lesser-known manufacturers often sponsor raffles when bringing new models to the market.

Provide Marketing Services

If you have a massive social media following and provide influencer marketing services, your local dealer might give you a free car in exchange for promotions. They’ll likely ask you to represent your brand for years.

However, note that very few personalities have the clout and influence to execute this strategy. Your influencer marketing services should at least be worth upward of $20,000.

Can You Get a Free Car From Uber or Lyft?

Unfortunately, neither Uber nor Lyft provides their partners with free cars. 

Drivers are responsible for securing a qualified vehicle, plus gas, maintenance, and repairs.

If you don’t have a vehicle yet, you can rent one. Uber and Lyft support financially challenged drivers by connecting them to rentals with industry-low rates.

Will a Free Used Car Help Your Financial Situation?

Although a free car might address several financial challenges, do your due diligence before sending applications. Don’t blindly agree to the first offer you get.

Yes, you’ll get the car for free. However, keep in mind that institutions often require awardees to pay for the vehicle’s taxes and delivery.

Strive for a reliable vehicle. Getting a used car with a few thousand miles is one thing, but receiving damaged vehicles that need constant repairs and maintenance will only put a hole in your pocket.

Also, maximize your free car. Instead of wasting it on parties and night-outs, use it to get to your job quicker, pick up your kids from school, save money on pricey commuting expenses, and become an overall more financially free individual.

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