Get a Free Car if You Have a Disability
If you have a disability and are unable to work, a vehicle can be hard to come by. However, you might still need one to get to medical appointments, run errands and visit family. Fortunately, there are some ways for you to try to get a free set of wheels. Here's how.
Get a Free Car if You Live in the US
- Have your information ready. Gather a small packet of proof, paperwork, and reasons why you need a car. If you can clearly outline how having a car will positively impact your life, people might be more likely to give to you. Consider including:
- Proof of your disability. Medical records, doctor's notes, or Social Security Disability Income check stubs would all be appropriate.
- Proof of your expenses. Tally up how much housing, utilities, food, and other necessities cost you each month, and compare it against your disability income (if you're on SSDI). This can help you demonstrate that you can't afford a car on your own.
- A list of reasons why you need a car. Write down the reasons why you need reliable transportation. If public transit is not an option for you, note the reasons why.
- Brainstorm on how you'll afford insurance, gas, maintenance, and registration expenses. Unfortunately, getting the car itself for free is only half of the expense — the rest will come from daily upkeep. Keep in mind that your car will have to be insured, as well as registered through the state. You'll also need to take it in for servicing every 4 to 6 months, as well as purchasing gas. If you cannot bear these expenses, be sure to note that when you're requesting a free car.
- Try Free Charity Cars. Free Charity Cars accepts people's old cars as a charity donation (so they can have the tax write-off) and redistributes them to people in need. Here's how to know if you're eligible. You must be a US citizen living in America. You might qualify for a free charity car if you are also:
- A victim of domestic violence
- Medically needy
- A victim of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado
- Transitioning from public assistance to working
- Living in a transitional shelter
- Working poor (that is, working and living under the national poverty line, which is $23,050 for a family of four in 2012)
- Part of an active-duty military family
- Apply online. Visit the Free Charity Cars website (listed in References below) and make a profile. Try to tell people your story in a compelling way (using the information you gathered in Step 1) and wait for the votes to come in! If you can, ask your online friends to make a profile and vote for you.
- Talk to local churches. Most churches are non-profit organizations, meaning that if someone donates a car to the church, that person can claim it as a tax write-off. If the members are made aware of your situation, perhaps one of them will consider donating a car to you through the church.
- If you already attend a church regularly, start there. Make your case to your ecclesiastical leader using the information you accumulated in Step 1, and ask if he or she can do anything to help you.
- You shouldn't join a church just to get a free car. A good church won't try to "trade" a car for your beliefs, but if you want to be a good person, it would be honorable to at least consider the merits of an institution that displays such generosity and helpfulness to you.
- Contact non-profit organizations that focus on your particular disability. If the person you talk to is not aware of any existing programs for free cars, try to speak to a few different people to make sure (without being disrespectful towards the first person you spoke to). You can also check their website. If it's not free, they may have a low-cost program, or a payment program with little or no interest.
- Talk to auto mechanics. Since they know how to fix vehicles, they might come across a car that can be fixed for a low price and that would fit your needs. Perhaps a church or a generous person will pay for the repairs for you, or they'll give you a loan with little or no interest. Or, someone might have an old car that they don't want to go through the trouble of repairing, but it has sentimental value for them. You could try to convince a mechanic to fix it for you for a discounted price.
- Network. The more people you have a connection to, the better the chance that someone will empathize with your plight and find a way to help you. If you're not a naturally sociable person, this may feel very awkward for you, but it's important, and sometimes necessary, to step out of your comfort zone. Also, if you have any feelings of shame or pride that get in the way of asking for help, you must overcome them. See How to Be Humble. Everybody needs help sometimes, and there is no shame in asking for it when you truly need it.
- Look for ways you can help people. Can you tutor? Babysit? Fix something? Rake a yard? Practice Random Acts of Kindness. You never know when someone you've helped might end up helping you back.
- Use social networking to your advantage. In addition to networking in person, you'll be able to reach out to more people through the Internet. Create accounts on Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter. Share your struggles and efforts.
- Reconsider whether you really need a car. Have you read How to Live Without a Car yet? Can you get by on renting a car once or twice a month (see How to Get a Discount Car Rental Rate) or using something like a Zipcar?
Get a Free Car if You Live in the UK
- Apply for disability, with a mobility component. If you have a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in the United Kingdom, part of your money can be used to pay the lease on a car from Motability, as well as providing you with money for gas and expenses. See this page for more information.
- Be aware that Motability has been under increased scrutiny lately . Make sure you truly qualify for a car before you apply, in order to avoid a messy situation later.
- If you can't get on DLA, try some of the methods listed above for the States. With the exception of Free Charity Cars, any of the suggestions are possibilities. You never know who might have a car they're willing to give you, or at least lend to you occasionally. Ask around and see what you can turn up.
- When talking with people on the phone, always be insistent but polite. Thank them for their time, and follow up with a thank you note. They may keep it, and if they DO hear anything, they'll let you know.
- Look over How to Reduce Expenses. Maybe there are some ways you can save money to buy a car.
- When you receive a free car, you may still have to pay taxes for it.
- Get a Good Deal on Your Trade In Car
- Find a Job if You Have a Disability
- Buy a Used Car
- Donate a Vehicle
- Fit in at School if You Have a Disability
- Support a Family Member with a Disability