By Tom Watson
Many of us have vivid memories of visiting a muddy auto junkyard to find parts for an old car or truck. Junkyards persevere, but in recent years additional alternatives have emerged for dealing with old cars.
No matter what indignities they’ve suffered, old cars still have value. Recycling and reusing cars and car parts are American traditions, and many of us have vivid memories of visiting a muddy auto junkyard to find parts for an old car or truck.
Junkyards persevere, but in recent years additional alternatives have emerged for dealing with old cars. For a consumer wondering what to do with an old vehicle, the biggest change has been the proliferation of charity auto-donation programs.
Relentless ads in various media urge us to donate our old cars to charities or nonprofit organizations. But consumers need to be careful, since the financial implications of this modern way of dealing with old cars can get confusing.
Q: Why should I consider car donation?
A: Many vehicle-donation programs will pick up the car from you, even if it’s not running, and handle most of the paperwork. You also support a charity.
Q: Do I get a tax deduction?
A: You only receive a deduction for a car donation if you itemize deductions on your federal tax return.
Q: How do I know if a car-donation program is legitimate?
A: Local charities or nonprofits with good reputations are usually safe bets for vehicle donations. If you’re not familiar with an organization, investigate it (search online for the charity name and “complaints,” for example) before you donate your car.
Q: What happens to my car after I donate it?
A: Most donated cars are resold. If the car is beyond repair, the scrap metal will be recycled after the car has been salvaged for parts.
Q: Isn’t it best environmentally if gas-guzzling cars get taken off the road?
A: That’s true. The risks of emissions and pollution to the environment, of vehicles older than twelve model years, increase each year the vehicle ages.
Q: How eco-friendly is the auto-recycling business overall?
A: Although occasional problems arise with the handling of fluids and toxic materials, the salvaging of cars and car parts is one of the most efficient reclamation industries around. Making use of nearly every piece of the car, auto salvagers epitomized recycling before the word even existed.
Tom Watson is project manager for King County’s Recycling and Environmental Services. www.KCecoconsumer.com.
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