How to Buy a Car From the Salvation Army

by Melissa Martinez

The Salvation Army is more than just the iconic red kettle at Christmas or the thrift stores that they have in nearly every community. The money they raise from those kettle donations and thrift stores goes directly toward their charitable goals such as financial assistance, job training, drug rehabilitation, disability assistance and more. Among the donations that people give are cars, and the Salvation Army has a special method of selling these that differs from how they sell items in their stores.

Navigate to the official Salvation Army USA website and enter your ZIP code. This will bring up a list of the branches nearest you, along with telephone numbers.

Call your local branch to get information about car auctions. Each area holds its own auction, so no two auction processes are alike. Most auctions are held monthly, with either Salvation Army staff or a professional auction company presiding over the event.

Register for the next auction, if necessary. Most, though not all, local auctions require some kind of sign-up or registration to bid on cars at auction. There may be a small registration fee involved.

Show up before the auction to inspect the cars available and see if there are any you want to buy. You should be allowed to start the engine and check under the hood and the interior to make sure it is what you want.

Bid on the car you would like. The auction process generally goes very quickly, so make sure you know your limit of what you are willing to spend, and bid appropriately.

Make arrangements for the car to be picked up or hauled off, if necessary. Though many of the cars for the Salvation Army auctions work and can be driven off, some are sold only for parts. If you choose to buy a non-working car for parts, there is generally a time limit as to how long you can leave it on the lot before it needs to be picked up. Make sure you have the car removed within that time frame.

Tip

  • check Most auctions are cash only. Make sure you have an appropriate amount with you before you show up.

Warnings

  • close Many of these auctions do not accept returns of any kind. Once you buy, you can't ask for a refund. This makes the inspection time before the auction extremely important. Do not purchase a car unless you are sure it works or you can make appropriate repairs.
  • close Taxes, titles, licenses and insurance are all the responsibility of the buyer of the vehicle or vehicles.

About the Author

Melissa Martinez has been a freelance writer and copy editor since 2003. She specializes in Web content and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle" and is now the section editor for a minor league sports news wire. She attended Seattle University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera wrecked, junk car dorr open image by Allen Penton from Fotolia.com