UPDATE: Goodwill Car Donations is currently accepting vehicle donations. Call 866-233-8586 to schedule an unattended FREE pickup. To learn what actions we are taking to ensure you are protected when you donate a vehicle to Goodwill Car Donations, please click here.

If you wanted to donate your car instead of trying to sell it, then over the summer of 2009 you had a good opportunity to maximize your profits on the value of the vehicle. The Car Allowance Rebate System, more commonly referred to as “Cash for Clunkers” ran in July and August of 2009 and basically provided a total of three billion dollars to all the people who turned in their used cars. While this was designed to stimulate the economy, specifically the flailing auto industry, there have been some critics of the program.

Basically, if you wanted to take advantage of this government-run program, you had to satisfy certain criteria. Your car had to be of a certain year, the quality of the vehicle needed to pass certain levels, and you needed to provide additional information relating to your car. You would have needed to do the research to ensure that your car matched the specifications of the vehicles that they were accepting. There was also a deadline, so you had to ensure that you got any relevant information together in time.

One reason why some people think you shouldn’t donate your car to the government is that it is tends to be a process that actually benefits the major car companies. The money made off of the vehicles that were turned in was usually used to help the major car companies and after the massive amounts of money already spent on bailing them out, most people were not interested in supporting them. Because the year restrictions were in place, cars that were a couple of decades old were not eligible and therefore the system didn’t fully support environmental factors either.

In addition to not wanting to support the auto industry, many people would rather you donate your car to a more needy cause, like a charitable organization. Every time a person takes advantage of a government program like “Cash for Clunkers,” it takes away from a donation that could have been made to a charity. Charities have been accepting donated vehicles for a long time, as they can fix up the cars and then sell them for profit, which can then be used to help out those who are less fortunate.

Obviously, if you choose to participate in a government car donation program that is your choice, and it may be the best choice in terms of making a bit of extra money. But if you look at the bigger picture, then you may want to think twice before you donate your car in this way. There are limited ways to help those who need extra support and if you don’t donate your cars to charity, then there may be additional suffering that goes on. Besides, you can always get a tax break based on your donation.