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3 min read

How We Turned Our Car Into a Home

How We Turned Our Car Into a Home

After 10 years of faithful service, my husband Greg’s beloved car was nearing the end. A growing fuel leak prompted us to bring it into the shop, where we discovered other repairs were needed that would far exceed the car’s sale value. In short: his car was totaled. We had been hoping to trade it in for a new car someday. Instead, we brought it back to our garage, where the battery promptly died. What were we going to do? Pay someone a couple hundred dollars to tow it to a junkyard?

But then I remembered Habitat for Humanity’s Cars for Homes program. Within a couple days of submitting a request on the Cars for Homes site, someone came to take away our car (for free!) and sell it to fuel Habitat’s mission. It was quick, easy, and satisfying—a total win-win that everyone should know about.

Greg watching as his car is towed away for Cars for Homes

A Car is Like a Home

My husband Greg’s car was a 2010 black Chevy Cobalt named Pearl. He was a big Pirates of the Caribbean fan growing up, so of course he had to name his car after Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship the Black Pearl.

Pearl was the first car Greg had bought on his own. Like all of our first cars, Pearl was special. Here are just a few of our memories with Pearl:

  • In 2013, Greg packed all his belongings in Pearl and drove from Milwaukee to Minneapolis to join the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps program.

  • In 2014, a couple months after Greg and I started dating, Pearl took us back to Milwaukee for me to meet Greg’s parents for the first time.

  • In 2018, the day after we got married, we drove Pearl to our honeymoon in Bayfield, WI, and spent the entire drive reliving the most joyful day of our lives.

  • In 2020, we drove Pearl around the Twin Cities in search of our first home—and we took her to the closing of our home in St. Paul.

  • And in 2021, we put a little dog crate in Pearl’s backseat and brought home our puppy Thomas.

Greg has moved five times throughout his 10 years in the Twin Cities. But while his address changed regularly, his car didn’t. Sometimes our vehicles come to feel like a second home, or a member of the family. Saying goodbye to a beloved vehicle – even one with many issues – is incredibly hard. But it’s a little easier knowing your car can do some good in the world with programs like Cars for Homes.

Our Car Becomes a Home

Greg and I both work at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. I’ve written about Cars for Homes before. But I’m embarrassed to admit we hadn’t considered it for ourselves until our car was sitting dead in the garage. I was skeptical that our car would even be accepted. By the end it needed a new fuel line, the speakers didn’t work, something was off with an axle, and it wouldn’t turn over. But we were out of options, so we gave it a go. And the process couldn’t have been easier.

Step 1

We went to Twin Cities Habtiat’s Cars for Homes page and clicked “Start Your Donation.” It brought us to a form where we entered vehicle info. We were brutally honest, selecting “rough” – the worst option for the vehicle’s condition – and “not drivable.” We also left comments on the repairs needed. To our pleasant surprise, our car was still accepted! We also filled out our contact info to receive our donation acknowledgment letter so that the proceeds would go to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

A computer sits on a desk, and it is showing the Cars for Homes webpage

Step 2

After submitting the form, we received instructions on preparing the title for transfer. Greg knew right where his title was thanks to his superb organizational skills (I’m envious). But if we wouldn’t have been able to find our title, we also had instructions for how to get a new one.

Step 3

The next day, Greg received a call to schedule the vehicle pickup and make sure we had our title ready to be transferred. They would’ve been able to pick it up that day, but we scheduled a few days out.

Step 4

On our donation day, we received a heads-up call when the tow truck driver was on his way. When he arrived, he jumped the car so Greg could give it one last drive out of the garage. Within minutes, Pearl was loaded up and we were waving our goodbyes.

A black Chevy Cobalt is loaded onto a tow truck

After a lot of time spent worrying about what to do with our slowly dying car, Cars for Homes made the process easier than we could’ve imagined. And we were shocked that our effectively totaled car could still make a small impact on Habitat’s mission. Saying goodbye to our beloved vehicles can be hard—but the Cars for Homes process makes it simple and satisfying. And it’s not just Greg and I that think so—in 2023, Forbes Advisor listed Cars for Homes as one of the best vehicle donation programs.

Cars for Homes also accepts trucks, boats, RVs, SUVs, and other vehicles with proper title—whether they work or not. You can learn all about the Cars for Homes program here.

Start Your Car Donation Today!

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