Free car programs are available all over the United States, but it can be difficult to separate the real programs from the scams. Fortunately, we’ve done a bunch of research and we’re here to help.
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We know what it’s like to need a car for free. In 2018, I’d reached the end of my rope. Our vehicle was held together by duct tape and prayer, and we were told that it needed an expensive $5,000 repair. I didn’t know what we were going to do!
Fortunately, someone told me about the Progressive Keys to Progress vehicle giveaway. My husband is a disabled veteran, so I knew we qualified. I was so excited to apply – and even more excited when I received a call from the organization, asking if we could accept a 5-seat vehicle. Unfortunately, we have five kids and couldn’t make such a small vehicle work for our family so we passed it on to another veteran in need… but it was so exciting to know that we technically won a free car, even if we couldn’t keep it!
If you stick around to the end of this post, I’ll also reveal a few tips that helped us win that free car. Hopefully, you can use these tips to win your own car for free as well!
Why are free cars important?
Obviously, transportation is necessary for low income families to get to work, school, doctor’s appointments and more. Life without a working vehicle can be very difficult, especially in rural areas or areas without reliable public transportation.
Many organizations have recognized this hardship, and that’s why they provide free cars to low income families who need them.
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5 Nationwide Programs that Provide Free Cars for Low Income Families
There are many legitimate organizations that offer free cars for low income families. All of these programs have specific and unique requirements, so you may not qualify for all of them.
Here are the ones that we’ve personally verified.
Progressive Keys to Progress Giveaway
Every year, Progressive gives away about 100 cars to veterans in need. This is the one that we won in 2017! We’ll give you all the information and show you how we wrote our winning application here.
Since 1996, Charity Cars has been encourage people to donate cars to the organization so the organization can then donate cars to families in need. As America’s #1 car donation charity, Charity Cars has been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America and other major outlets. They are especially known for providing free cars for disabled veterans, victims of domestic violence, families living in shelters and victims of natural disasters.
To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
- United States resident
- Age 18+
- Valid Driver’s License
- At or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level ($48,600 for a family of 4 in 2016)
- No sustainable transportation
In order to receive a car, you will need to have access to a computer and internet service. You’ll need to be able to sign up and create an account at www.freecharitycars.org. You’ll complete an application, generate votes to move up the waiting list and remain access on the site.
Working Cars for Working Families
Many organizations that focus on getting free cars to those in need have formed a coalition at workingcarsforworkingfamilies.org. Use their nifty Find a Program tool to find agencies that provide free cars, low cost auto repair or low income auto loans in your area.
A search in the Portland, Oregon, area directs users to contact Ways to Work Inc. at (503) 688-1785 for help obtaining a reliable vehicle. According to the Ways to Work website, “The ability to access affordable loans to purchase, repair, or refinance a car can be life-changing for working parents. As part of the national Ways to Work program, we’re getting parents on the road when they need it most.”
Ways to Work
When you rely on a vehicle to get to work, losing your transportation can be an absolute disaster. Ways to Work doesn’t provide free cars but they do provide small, low interest loans to qualifying low-income applicants. Loans will be for no longer than 30 months and no more than 8% interest.
To qualify, you must reside in a service area and meet the following criteria:
- 6 months of continuous employment OR enrolled in a post-high school education program
- Be an involved parent of dependent child(ren)
- Unable to obtain conventional loan resources
- Have enough disposable income to make payments
- Have a household income that is 80% or less than the area’s median income
To apply, you will need to visit a local loan office. Loan offices are available in 13 states. Click here to find one near you!
Local Programs that Provide Free Cars
Of course, there are many local organizations and programs that help low income families get a car for free as well.
We’ve found programs that offer free cars in Virginia!
United Methodist Car Ministry (Northern Virginia only)
The United Methodist Church operates a Car Ministry for the poor, the needy and full time ministry workers. They have provided thousands of vehicles since their founding in 1984. On average, they donate 50-150 vehicles per year.
All vehicles must run well and pass Virginia safety and emission standards before they are given to low income families. The Car Ministry recognizes that providing faulty vehicles that need repair could cause more problems that it would solve, so they are very careful to maintain the quality of their vehicles.
In order to receive a free car from United Methodist Car Ministry, you will need to be referred by a social worker or pastor. You will also need to complete this application.