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How to Buy Abandoned Cars

Follow this advice to find the legal owner of an abandoned car and make the ride your own.


  • Step 1: Locate the VIN and license plate number Locate the vehicle identification number, called the VIN, and the license plate number.
  • TIP: The VIN will be located at the top of the dashboard near the windshield or on the inside of the driver's door.
  • Step 2: Obtain a title record Obtain a title record from your county's motor vehicle office to determine who the title owner is. If the license plate is from another state you will have to contact that state for the information.
  • TIP: If you cannot find the owner, the vehicle is most likely the property of the local government where the vehicle was abandoned or the towing company that removed it. Most of these cars will be available for purchase at auction.
  • Step 3: Ask the title owner to assign the title to you Contact the title owner and ask them to transfer the title to you.
  • Step 4: Get a receipt Ask the seller for a signed receipt or a Sales Tax Exemption Certificate Transfer Affidavit if the owner doesn't make you pay for the vehicle.
  • Step 5: Apply for your own title Take the signed title, the receipt, and your driver's license to a motor vehicle office and apply for a title in your name. Then drive away and enjoy your new ride.
  • FACT: It has been estimated that in the United States, half a million or more cars are stolen and exported each year.

You Will Need

  • VIN
  • License plate number
  • Receipt or a Sales Tax Exemption Certificate Transfer affidavit
  • Signed title
  • Motor vehicleoffice

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