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zipcar and car donation questions
December 17, 2004 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience with zipcar? I have to get rid of my car but would like an alternative to occassional rentals. Also, ancillarily, any advice on donating an old but much beloved car to charity?

It's the beloved part I'm having trouble with. It's my first car, and still runs great, but I can't keep it when I move.
posted by helcat to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
We've signed up for Zipcar (free through wife's workplace) but haven't used it yet. I see many cars here in DC with the Zipcar logo, so people do apparently use it quite a bit. Make sure there's a pickup/dropoff location convenient to both your home and work.

I'm sure you're already aware of it, but due to upcoming tax law changes (1st of the year) you should consider donating your car before the end of the year.
posted by arco at 10:13 AM on December 17, 2004


I have a friend who used zipcar and loved it. He'd get a car maybe 3 or 4 times a month I think, mostly for grocery shopping and stuff like that. I don't have any first-hand experience with it though, sorry. I know that when the car I have now dies I'll probably sign up with zipcar right away though.
posted by soplerfo at 10:16 AM on December 17, 2004


Most public radio stations are now taking cars; Volunteers of America has the largest and longest-established car donations program in the US.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:16 AM on December 17, 2004


This sounds great but as arco said, the rules are changing. See prior thread. Basically, you'll have to do a lot more paperwork and can only deduct the actual sale price and not an appraised price. It's expected that the number of charities using this fund-raiser will drop off significantly because of the increased overhead requirements.
posted by dhartung at 10:51 AM on December 17, 2004


I use Flex Car (in Seattle). I've only had to use it a few times for getting places that aren't readily accessible by public transit, but I find that it's pretty convenient/enough car locations near my home and office, easy to use, and it's nice peace of mind for emergencies.

A friend in DC uses Zipcar - usually once every week or two for making grocery shopping trips, I think - and raves about it.
posted by milkrate at 10:52 AM on December 17, 2004


I sold my beloved first car when I moved to Boston two years ago and have used Zipcar semi-regularly since then. I also used it in D.C. (You can use Zipcars in any city, not just the one in which you join.)

I've found it to be helpful for shopping trips to the burbs, less so for grocery shopping; a cab ride home and an hour of Zipcar time cost about the same for me, and I like to dawdle in the store. However, if you are under 25, the daily rentals are a good alternative to conventional rentals (no trips to the airport and free gas!). The cars are generally in good shape and very clean and their telephone customer service is helpful. I recommend it if there are some near you.
posted by amber_dale at 10:56 AM on December 17, 2004


Owning a car is much more expensive then many people realize. Besides periodic maintenance, including new tires, and unexpected repairs, there are (a) annual registration and license plate costs; (b) insurance; (c) depreciation on the vehicle; and (d) loss of use of the money invested (and/or interest paid on a car loan).

Why don't you try zipcar for a few months, and see how it works? If you don't like it, you can always buy a car then. If you buy a car right away, you'll never know how the alternative works.
posted by WestCoaster at 11:12 AM on December 17, 2004


Zipcar is wonderful! I use it several times a month (usually grocery and pet store trips). I've also used it for overnight trips for longer distances, and it ends up running about the same as average rental rates, when you factor in gas and the insurance for suckers like me who always take out the collision waiver.

It also gives me the added advantage of being able to drive fun cars that I could otherwise never afford.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 11:15 AM on December 17, 2004


Time Out NY did a comparo of Zipcar to other transporation modes a few months back and figured out that it's fun and easy if a) there's a car ready when you are and b) you're not going too far or too long. The hourly and mileage charges, after a while, come out pretty comparable to an ordinary rental car, at least here in NYC.

Still, as a city dweller without a car in the city, I understand the allure, and the sense of partial ownership. I bet Zipcars are generally in better condition than rentals, for example.
posted by werty at 11:36 AM on December 17, 2004


Another former (though rare) user of Flexcar in DC, and I'd certainly recommend them as well. I think their membership was slightly less expensive than Zipcar, which is why I went with them. If they're available in your area, you may want to check both.
posted by occhiblu at 11:58 AM on December 17, 2004


I used Zipcar when I lived in NYC. It was a godsend, so much so that I kept my membership (just in case) even though I now live 3000 miles away and rarely head back east.
posted by astruc at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2004


I heard on public radio this morning that the laws for donating used cars to charities change at the end of this year: Currently you can deduct the blue book value of your car if you donate it. Next year, unless the charity itself uses the car, you'll only be able to deduct the amount the car is sold for. I'm not 100% that this wasn't a local (Washington State) story, so it may not apply, but if it does the difference can be in the thousands of dollars.

I use FlexCar fairly regularly, and absolutely adore it. No gas, no insurance to pay for. Dig it.
posted by rhruska at 1:32 PM on December 17, 2004


Wow, I'd never even heard of this concept before, but it seems way cool. Anybody know of one in the San Francisco bay area? Both ZipCar and FlexCar say that it is coming soon, but with no estimated date.
posted by rorycberger at 1:56 PM on December 17, 2004


San Francisco has one program, but it requires a $300 deposit to use. Which seems prohibitive -- if I had $300 to tie up in a car, I'd buy one. The Bay Guardian's been running all sorts of editorials trying to get the city to switch from "company cars" to that service so that the extra customers will force the price down for the rest of us, and so that the city could then sell the city-owned car fleet. The profit could then perhaps allow us to keep *some* social programs. Newsom hasn't bit yet.
posted by occhiblu at 2:25 PM on December 17, 2004


Zipcar used to require a $300 deposit too (it's an insurance thing), but they recently lowered it due to having enough overall members to spread around the risk or something. All I know is that I got most of it refunded; I assume new members also need to pony up the smaller amount.
posted by nev at 3:35 PM on December 17, 2004


The San Francisco Bay Area service is City Car Share. If only they'd come to San Jose!
posted by JDC8 at 6:49 PM on December 17, 2004


Flexcar required only the $25-ish membership fee. Nothing *close* to $300.
posted by occhiblu at 9:04 PM on December 17, 2004


I was a member of Zipcar briefly, but ended up dropping it because I didn't use it as much as I thought I was going to, and I wanted the $300 deposit back.

When I used it, it was great and very easy. The system worked very well, and every time I had a question and called their 800#, they were very friendly and helpful.
posted by Vidiot at 10:56 PM on December 17, 2004


Zipcar dropped the $300 deposit requirement, at least in NYC. Mine was refunded.
posted by astruc at 2:57 PM on December 19, 2004


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