How to Find the Owner of an Abandoned Car

by Louise Balle

Have you ever seen a car sitting on a street for what seems likes ages and wondered who owns it? Maybe you're interested in buying it. If you call the police, they will come and impound it if the license plate registration is way overdue. If the owner doesn't claim it in a reasonable amount of time, it will be auctioned. Then you will have to compete with other people for the car. If you really want the car, your best bet is to try to find the owner directly, negotiate a quick sale of the car and transfer it into your name.

Step 1

Write down the license plate number of the car. Then take down the VIN number for the vehicle. This number is usually located on the right front lower window of the car where the windshield wipers rest. Be sure to take down every digit carefully.

Step 2

First, do a VIN check on the National Insurance Crime Bureau's (NICB) website (see direct link under "Resources"). This will tell you if the car has been reported stolen. If it is on that list, you will need to report the car to the police to be returned to the rightful owner.

Step 3

Knock on doors in the neighborhood to see if someone owns the car in the area. If the car is sitting directly in front of a home, leave a note with your phone number in the box of the person who lives there, and ask the residents to call you. Also, try leaving a note on the car itself---it's possible that the owner comes to visit it from time to time.

Step 4

Try running a CarFax report on the car to get information about the last owner. At the very least, a CarFax report should give you a title number so you can look up the title information at the local DMV office where the title was issued. A CarFax report will also give you the name and address of the dealer where the car was purchased. You can then call the dealer with the VIN and title number to see if they have a recent phone number for the person who bought the car from them.

Step 5

Call the local DMV or visit the DMV online with all of the information you have collected to see if you can get a recent address or phone number for the owner. They may say that this information is only available to the owner. If the DMV cannot release this information, ask if someone at the DMV can contact the owner on your behalf.

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