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How to get rid of an abandoned car on private property depends on many factors, including the laws of your state and who owns the vehicle. If you own the vehicle, you can call a towing company to remove the vehicle and take it to a junkyard. If you don’t own the vehicle, you may need to report the car to your local department of motor vehicles.

In some states, if you find an abandoned car on your property, you can fill out some paperwork to keep it. Then, you could sell it to a third-party seller who can offer cash on the spot.

Can You Get Rid of an Abandoned Car?

get rid of abandoned car

As noted, you can generally get rid of a car that’s been abandoned on your property. You don’t have to keep it there for years, hoping that someday its true owner will return and drive off into the sunset. Here are two things to know:

  • The car’s ownership matters. If you know the owner, many states require you to make a good faith attempt to get the vehicle removed. If you don’t, then you can call the appropriate office in your county and request its removal.

  • You can’t immediately sell the vehicle. If there’s an abandoned car on your property, you can’t just go, “Jackpot,” and sell it. Generally, you must fill out some paperwork to declare the car abandoned and transfer certain documents. This may sound like needless bureaucracy, but going through these steps protects you from litigation if the car’s owner returns.


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How to Report an Abandoned Car

Every state has its own protocol for addressing and removing abandoned cars. As noted, many involve contacting your local authority and listing some basic information. As an example, here’s a rough outline of what you can expect from this process if you live in New York State:

  1. You find a car on your property that doesn’t have a license plate or any identifying information (like the car’s registration in the glove box).

  2. You contact the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and request the vehicle’s disposal.

  3. You sign a waiver and clear any obstructions that would make towing the car difficult.

  4. You pay a towing fee based on the price of the car’s scrap metal.

For many people, the last point really grinds their gears. Why should they pay to get a card towed that wasn’t even theirs?

In that instance, your state may offer a reimbursement program. Alternatively, you could bypass this process, get the right to own the vehicle, and sell it for parts.

Getting Rid of an Abandoned Car on Private Property

who buys abandoned cars

If you want to get rid of an abandoned car on your property, you want to do everything by the books. You don’t want to face any fines or other complications later. In general, upon finding an abandoned car, you should:

  • Check your state’s laws and regulations. Many states list how you can get rid of an abandoned car on their websites. You could also call your local DMV.

  • Attempt to find the owner. Did you know you can find a car’s owner by typing in the license plate number? In some states, you can.

  • Contact the authorities. If you can’t find the car’s owner, you should call your local non-emergency number. They can attempt to find the owner and have the car removed.

  • Arrange for towing. If all else fails, and the car remains unclaimed, you can file the appropriate paperwork to have the car towed from your property. As mentioned, some towing services pay you for the car––and not the other way around.

How to Sell an Abandoned Car With No Title

Per Kelley Blue Book (KBB), you typically cannot sell an abandoned car with no title. You must have the car in your name to lawfully sell it.

However, some DMVs have exceptions where, with some extra legwork, you can. Call your local DMV to learn more about this process.

How to Get a Title for an Abandoned Car

Getting the title for an abandoned car depends on your state.

For instance, imagine you live in Washington State and have this issue. Here, you would request the Washington Department of Licensing, explain the situation, and request the vehicle’s title. Then, with the title in hand, you can sell it with no problems.

Before getting the title, you may have to fill out some paperwork, including how long the vehicle’s been on your property. Be as thorough as you can when filling out these documents; you don’t want a small mistake to complicate matters later.

Get Cash for an Abandoned Car With CarBrain

get cash for an abandoned car

Stuck with an abandoned car on your property? Think again.

With CarBrain, you can turn that clunker into cash. In just 90 seconds, you can get a guaranteed offer on your car, regardless of its condition.

Rather than forking over money to have the car towed, we can remove the vehicle from your property and offer payment on the spot.

Here’s what to know:

  1. To get a quote, we just need some basic details about the car, including its make, model, and mileage.

  2. If you decide to accept an offer, we need the keys, signed title, and access to the vehicle. For those with old abandoned cars, the “signed title” part gets complicated. That’s why we’ve offered this guide for getting this document in your name.

  3. Within 24 to 48 hours of accepting our offer, our towing service comes to remove the vehicle. You don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy that comes from partnering with a government agency or a county-owned removal service.

We aim to make everything about selling a vehicle as easy as possible. You can get a quote at your earliest convenience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Illegal to Abandon a Car?

Most (if not all) states have laws on the books about abandoning a car. Generally, it’s a misdemeanor, punishable by fines. Washington State, for example, considers the crime as “gross” misdemeanor because abandoning a car is a public health hazard (no pun intended).

Can You Sell an Abandoned Car?

By navigating the appropriate channels, you can sell an abandoned car. Be sure to review your state and county’s rules beforehand.

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