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What To Do About An Abandoned Car: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you facing the dilemma of an abandoned car in your neighborhood or on your property? Abandoned cars can be an eyesore, a nuisance and a safety hazard. But what exactly qualifies as an abandoned car? And what are your options for dealing with it? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more, providing a comprehensive guide on what to do about an abandoned car.

What is an Abandoned Car?

An abandoned car is a vehicle that has been left unattended for an extended period of time, usually on a public road or on private property without the owner’s consent. The exact definition of an abandoned car may vary depending on your state or local laws, but it generally includes the following criteria:

  • The car is unregistered or has expired registration
  • The car is significantly damaged or inoperable
  • The car has been left unattended for a certain period of time (usually 72 hours or more)
  • The car is blocking traffic or posing a safety hazard

What to Do if You Find an Abandoned Car?

If you come across an abandoned car on a public road, the first thing you should do is contact your local authorities. Depending on your location, you may need to contact the police, the city or county government, or a local towing company.

Provide as much information as possible about the location of the car, the make and model, and the license plate number (if available). The authorities will then investigate the situation and determine the best course of action.

If the abandoned car is on your private property, you have more options in terms of getting it removed. However, it’s important to follow the proper legal procedures to avoid any potential legal issues.

Removing an Abandoned Car from Private Property

If you own the property where the abandoned car is located, you have the right to have it removed. However, you can’t simply tow the car away yourself. You’ll need to follow the proper legal procedures, which typically involve the following steps:

  • Contact your local authorities to report the abandoned car and request assistance.
  • Post a notice on the car indicating that it will be towed if not removed within a certain period of time (usually 10-30 days, depending on your location).
  • Wait for the specified period of time to elapse, and if the car is still there, contact a licensed towing company to have it removed.
  • Keep careful records of all the steps you take, including the notice you post on the car and any communication you have with the authorities or towing company.

Getting Compensation for Removal Costs

In some cases, you may be able to recover the costs of removing an abandoned car from your property. However, this will depend on your state and local laws, as well as the specific circumstances of the situation.

If you’re able to identify the owner of the abandoned car, you may be able to seek compensation from them for the costs of removal. You can do this by filing a claim in small claims court or contacting a collections agency to pursue the matter.

What Happens to an Abandoned Car?

Once an abandoned car has been removed, what happens to it depends on a number of factors. If the car is in good condition and can be repaired, it may be sold at auction or donated to a charity.

However, if the car is in poor condition or has been stripped for parts, it may be sent to a salvage yard for scrap. In some cases, the car may be crushed and disposed of in a landfill.

Preventing Abandoned Cars

The best way to deal with abandoned cars is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Here are a few tips for preventing abandoned cars:

  • Be a good neighbor: If you notice a car that has been parked in the same spot for an extended period of time, try to find out if it belongs to someone in the neighborhood. If not, contact your local authorities.
  • Keep your property well-lit: A well-lit property can deter would-be car thieves and vandals.
  • Secure your vehicles: Lock your car doors and windows, and park in a well-lit area if possible.


Dealing with an abandoned car can be a frustrating and time-consuming process, but it’s important to take action to keep your neighborhood safe and attractive. Whether you’re dealing with an abandoned car on a public road or on your private property, following the proper legal procedures is essential.

If you’re unsure about the laws in your area, contact your local authorities for guidance. Remember, prevention is key, so take steps to secure your property and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.


  1. What is the difference between an abandoned car and a junk car?

    • An abandoned car is a vehicle that has been left unattended for an extended period of time, while a junk car is a vehicle that is no longer functional or safe to drive.
  2. Who pays for the removal of an abandoned car?

    • In most cases, the property owner is responsible for the costs of removing an abandoned car from their property.
  3. How long does it take to get an abandoned car removed?

    • The time it takes to have an abandoned car removed can vary depending on your location and the specific circumstances of the situation.
  4. Can I keep an abandoned car that I find?

    • No, you cannot keep an abandoned car that you find. It belongs to the owner, even if they have abandoned it.
  5. What should I do if I suspect my neighbor has abandoned a car on their property?

    • Contact your local authorities to report the situation and request assistance.
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