single mom help with getting a car

by Aidan Kang, CFA
Senior Writer
UPDATED: October 19, 2022

If you are a single mom or a single parent who cannot afford to purchase your own car, there are various government and non-profit organizations that can help you get a free car or buy an affordable vehicle. These programs for single mothers needing a car are designed to help low-income families become more sufficient by providing them with reliable transportation.

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Here is a list of transportation assistance for single mothers needing a car. Some of these programs are available nationwide, while others are area-specific.

1. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF

This is a program of the U.S. government under the Office of Family Assistance (OFA). The OFA manages federal grant programs with the aim of fostering economic stability and security for families. 

The TANF program was created to assist disadvantaged families to become self-sufficient so that children can be taken care of in their own homes. Single moms can apply for TANF grants to help pay for basic needs like food, clothing, housing, utilities, and transportation.

While the TANF does not directly provide free cars to single mothers, the regulations allow states to use funds to provide employed families with transportation needs, including granting funds to purchase a car.

To apply for TANF assistance, you should contact your county or local welfare office.


CarsForMoms is a non-profit organization that aims to help single-parent families become more self-reliant by gifting them free cars. This organization is designed specifically to provide single moms help with getting a car. The organization receives donations and uses these donations to provide single mothers free vehicles, rides, public transit, and even auto repair.

CarsForMoms believes that giving out free cars are not handouts, instead, they are giving families an essential tool to improve their situation in the future. By providing free transportation, they are also helping moms to “be there” for work, school, health care, emergencies, and more.

To become a recipient of a free car, a single-parent family has to be nominated through their website. The organization will then evaluate their story to see whether they qualify for the grant.

3. 1-800-Charity Cars

1-800-Charity Cars, also known as Free Charity Cars, is a non-profit organization that provides free charity cars for single moms and other low-income people. The primary focus of this charity is to offer struggling families donated vehicles at no cost in order to help them become self-reliant. This charity helps struggling families nationwide and prides itself on being the #1 car donation program where you can get a donated car for free. According to its website, 84% of donations go to program grants.

With 1-800-Charity cars, not only single moms or single-parent families can apply. Some of the typical recipients include families living in transitional shelters, families transitioning from public assistance to employment, veterans and military families, victims of domestic violence, etc.

To apply for a charity car, you can go to their website and click the application button.

4. Working Cars For Working Families

The National Consumer Law Center created a project called Working Cars For Working Families that offers a car ownership program. This car ownership program enables low wage workers to get a used or new car.

Programs are available all across the United States and depending on the specific program, the eligibility requirements may differ. You have to check their website to see whether a program is available in your area and you must meet the program requirements to qualify as a recipient.

5.Cars 4 Christmas

Cars 4 Christmas is a non-profit organization that aims to provide free reliable transportation to disadvantaged individuals. According to their website, all the cars that they give away are donated cars and they do not sell cars and buy cheaper cars to donate. If a donated car is not road-worthy, they sell that car and the proceeds go towards fixing other cars and other events.

To apply for a car, you have to go to their website, fill in your details, and tell your story why you need a car. Your file will be kept for 3 years and you will be contacted if you are elected for a car award. In the event that a vehicle is awarded to you, there is a way for you to turn its title into cash. Title loans can be a great financial resource to utilize when you are short on cash!


This is a charity that gifts vehicle donations to self-supporting families making the move from public assistance, battered women, people with physical challenges, families living in homeless shelters, and military families.

OnlineCarDonation reviews the case of the application by case and will decide who to give the working vehicle to depending on their findings. In order to apply for a free car, you have to fill up the application form on their website and explain your needs and your situation why you need a car.

After your application is received, you will be contacted by the organization if you are selected to receive a donated car.

7. Vehicles For Change

Vehicles For Change is a non-profit organization that has awarded more than 6,500 cars to needy families since 1999. The goal of the organization is to provide low-income families with the tools to become financially independent and stable through car donation and reentry internship programs. This program is available to families in Virginia, Maryland, and Michigan.

The cars awarded by VFC are not totally free. When they receive a donated car, they repair it to meet quality standards and they sell donated cars for as little as $950.

To get a donated car from VFC, you have to meet the basic criteria set by the organizations. Some of the requirements include having a job or job offer, being insurable, drug-free, must not have another vehicle in the household, etc.

8. Good News Garage

Good News Garage provides affordable and reliable transportation to needy families. The program accepts donated cars and repairs them before making them available to applicants. According to the Good News garage website, over 80% of the clients they have served are struggling single parents who are working hard to achieve financial independence for themselves and their children.

Currently, there are programs available in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Depending on the state you live in where the programs are available, requirements are different so you have to contact the regional office to see whether you are eligible.

9. Newgate School Wheels For Women

Wheels For Women is a program by Newgate School that offers reliable cars to working single mothers in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. The goal of the program is to help single moms achieve self-sufficiency by providing them with reliable transportation at no charge.

In order to qualify for a free charity car for single moms, applicants must meet the criteria set by the program. Some of the listed requirements include being a resident for at least one year of the seven county Metro area of Minneapolis, must have a Minnesota driver’s license, must be the single female head of household with one or more dependent children under 18 years old, your kids must be enrolled in school if they are of school-age, you must be working full-time for at least six months, must have proof of auto insurance, no other vehicle in the household, and your annual income must not exceed $35,000.

10. Good Neighbor Garage

Good Neighbor Garage is a program available in the Denver area. The program helps single moms and widows become more self-sufficient by helping them get reliable means of transportation. They achieve this through vehicle placement, education, repairs, and maintenance.

To qualify for a car, you need to meet the program requirements. Some of the criteria are: you must be a resident of Jefferson County, Colorado, have a valid driver’s license, and you must be a woman in financial need who is striving to take care of your children and yourself on your own.

You must also be able to show that you are either employed, attending school, or receiving social security benefits. You are also required to pay for car insurance and pay the placement fee ranging from $900 to $1500.

11. Wheels4Hope

The mission of Wheels4Hope is to provide economically vulnerable families affordable and reliable transportation. It is a faith-based, non-profit organization based in North Carolina. The program cars that they offer to recipients are not completely free but if you are a chosen beneficiary, you only have to pay $500 for the car.

To get a program car from Wheels4Hope, you should be nominated by one of their partner agencies. You must be an active member of that partner agency, have a valid North Carolina driver’s license, should not have any other vehicle in your household, and proof that you are employed.

12. Wheels For Working

This program is located in Alabama and the goal is to provide low-income individuals with a reliable mode of transportation so they can continue working. This is especially for people who are employed and have difficulty getting to and from work because there is no available or regular public transport system in the area.

To qualify, the applicant must be able to provide proof of employment, working hours, and income level. The applicant must also have a valid driver’s license and insurance. The organization will review and accept the applications on a case-to-case basis.

Buying Cheap Cars For Single Moms

woman on a car

If you cannot qualify for a free car or there are no available programs in your area, there are still ways on how to get a car without busting your budget. 

1. Salvation Army

Check your local Salvation Army to see whether there is a car auction in your area. Bidding for a car in an auction is an affordable way to get a car. You usually have to register in advance before you can participate in an auction. 

If you are not a car expert or you don’t have any idea whether a car is in good condition, ask help from a friend to check out the cars available before the auction date. Most cars sold at auctions cannot be returned and you have to pay cash for the vehicle. Therefore, you have to make sure that the car you’ll bid for is in good, working condition or will only need minimal repairs.

2. Online Classifieds

Online classifieds like Craigslist is a good source to find affordable cars. If you’re lucky, you might even find a car listed for free. When buying a car from Craigslist, be careful of scams. Make sure you don’t pay the money unless you have seen the car or you have made your due diligence about the seller.

Checking out Facebook Groups is another way to find affordable cars. There are many individuals who would rather sell cars directly to individuals.

3. Used Car Websites

If you are unable to meet program requirements for grants that provide single moms with free cars, another option is to look at used car websites that sell cheap cars for under $1,000. This will almost be the same amount of money you will pay for placement fees charged by some car donation charities. With this option, however, you’ll have more choice on what kind of car to get.

When buying a used car, it is best to consult with a friend or relative who knows about cars. Another tip is to go for car brands that are cheaper to maintain like Honda and Toyota. These Japanese car brands are popular because the parts are cheap and they will not cost you a lot of money to repair. Don’t be tempted to get European or other luxury cars no matter how cheap they are. If they are already used, the cost of repairing and maintaining them can be very expensive.

How to Get a Free Car for Single Moms

Being a single parent can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to support yourself, but you are also responsible for the needs of your child. Having reliable transportation may not be the answer to all of your problems but getting a free car could help you become more independent and capable to provide for your family.