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Things To Consider When Passing Your Car Down: Should You Do It?

1998 Isuzu Trooper

Thinking about passing your car down? You may own a rarely used, but older vehicle and are considering passing it down to a son, daughter or perhaps a newly licensed grandchild. Transferring ownership can provide much needed transportation for someone else, but is it always a good idea to offer them your car. Here we’ll take a look at your options, including selling, donating or even scrapping your aged vehicle.

Condition and Practicality

The first thing to consider when passing your car down has everything to do with its condition. Unless the old car has been faithfully maintained, the needed repairs may be costly.

It might not be a problem if the recipient is handy, likes working on cars and can procure the required parts. However, a discontinued model such as a 1998 Isuzu Trooper or a 2001 Daewoo Leganza might prove too difficult to secure parts as both manufacturers no longer have a distribution network in the United States. These types of orphaned vehicles are often too much of a hassle to keep around.

Another option is to just sell the car to a private party and give the proceeds from the sale to your loved one. They could then combine those funds with her own to buy a different vehicle.

Donate Your Car

Should you hand the car keys for your clunker to a loved one?Instead of passing down your car, you might consider donating it to a charity. And not to just any charity, but one where you can qualify for a federal tax deduction.

According to the IRS, only donations made to 501(c)(3) organizations will allow you to claim a tax deduction. Moreover, you should know that you can only claim the fair market value of the car. This means that even if the vehicle has a book value of $1,200, its outstanding repairs may mean it’s only worth $650. The lower amount is what you will be allowed to claim as your deduction. Furthermore, if you choose to donate, you must obtain a written acknowledgment from the charity if the total donation is $250 or more.

Scrap Your Car

If your vehicle is in poor shape and is of no interest to a loved one or a charity, you might decide to have it scrapped. For instance, serious problems for an aging vehicle can include a slipping transmission, a blown head gasket, a failed air conditioning system or exhaust system problems, especially a broken catalytic converter. Any of these problems may cost more to fix than your automobile is actually worth. Certainly, passing your car down or donating it are not viable options for cars with these types of issues.

Scrapping a problem-plagued vehicle may prove environmentally beneficial as well and serve as the best option over passing your car down, selling or donating it. Contact local salvage yards and ask them if they would be interested in your vehicle. You may be surprised to learn that they do and are willing to pay you for it. They will even send a tow truck to remove it from your property if it’s not running.


Whether passing your car down or taking another approach, you need to find the title for your vehicle and visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) website to determine how their particular process works. As you transfer ownership, retrieve the registration from the glove box and be sure to remove the license plates, returning the latter to the DMV. Lastly, don’t forget to contact your insurance company to remove the automobile from your policy.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on your vehicle, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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