abandoned car

What to do if you find an abandoned car

22nd Apr, 2020

People don’t often leave their cars lying around. Well, not unless they lose them in a car park for six months, that is. No, people mainly manage to keep track of their cars because they’re expensive, and also because even if it’s well past its sell by date, it’s not a sensible move to leave your car on the side of the road. No matter what kind of condition it’s in, you can still get at least some money for it, even if that’s only its weight in scrap metal. Plus, when you scrap your car with someone like us here at Scrap Car Network, not only do we give you the best possible price, but we even collect it right from your driveway, for free!

But for some reason, there are those who don’t bother with this kind of stuff, and leave their cars gathering rust on the side of the road instead. Not only is this unpleasant to look at, but abandoned cars like this can be actively dangerous, especially they have sharp and rusted parts, or they’re still full of toxic fluids. So if you see a car you think might have been abandoned, here’s how to go about getting it sorted.

How do you know if a car’s abandoned?

This is obviously a very important question, and the first one you should be asking yourself. (Just because a car looks a bit run down, it doesn’t mean the owner has vanished forever!) Identifying an abandoned car can sometimes a bit tricky, since they’re not exactly labelled, but on the whole you can make a pretty good guess at it if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • It’s been stationary for a significant period of time (weeks or even months)
  • It’s significantly damaged or clearly unroadworthy
  • It’s burned out
  • Its number plates are missing
  • It’s untaxed

Finding out if a car is untaxed is slightly harder than it used to be, since tax discs were phased out back in October 2014. You can check online by using its registration number to see if it’s taxed. Don’t forget that just because a car’s untaxed, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s abandoned!

However, if it’s got no number plates, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s abandoned, as it’s often done to prevent authorities from identifying the owner. (Whether that’s because the vehicle’s been stolen, or it’s the owner themselves who’s abandoned it.) You’ll basically be able to use your own judgement as to whether the vehicle’s unroadworthy, but you can usually tell by factors like flat tyres, missing wheels, broken windows, a gutted engine, and that sort of thing.


How to report an abandoned car

Abandoned cars generally fall into the remit of your local council, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find the relevant contact number or form on their website. If you’re having trouble locating it, you can always use this tool on the UK Government website.

If it’s causing an active obstruction – for example if it’s blocking an actively used road – it’s best to contact the police instead, on the non-emergency number 101.

You’ll need to have the following information to hand:

The location of the abandoned car, as exact as you can make it
Its registration number
It make, model and colour

They may need some additional information, so do your best to provide it, but as long as you can provide the basics above, that should be enough.

What happens next?

The authorities will take over, and conduct an investigation to find out if it’s actually abandoned. (Believe it or not, there have been cases where it isn’t!) They’ll track down the registered keeper, and in doing so they’ll determine whether or not they think the car’s been stolen.

What happens after that depends on where exactly the car’s been spotted.

If it’s on public land

The council will find the registered keeper where possible, and give them seven days to respond. (It’s worth noting here that the registered keeper and the owner are not always the same person.) After that, they’ll remove it and sell it or scrap it at an Authorised Treatment Facility.

It’s worth noting that abandoning a car is a criminal offence, mostly because of the danger it can pose and the costs involved in removing it. That means if the registered keeper is found to have abandoned the car, they’ll be penalised in the form of a fine, or even a court summons.

If it’s on private land

If the car is on private land on the other hand, the council will give a 15 day notice period rather than the standard seven days. If the land owner has any objections to the removal, then no action will be taken. If they have no objections, the council will take the car.

As we touched upon above, abandoning a car doesn’t make a tonne of sense to us here at Scrap Car Network – every vehicle is worth something, even if that’s just its weight in scrap. And if your own car’s nearing the end of its operational lifespan, you can find out how much it’s worth in just 10 seconds. Yup. 10 seconds is all it takes to fill out a few details using the fields on our homepage, and get your own instant online quote. So – want to find out how much your car is worth?

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