Have you ever wondered if a car that you owned years ago is still around somewhere? In fact, have you ever wondered if it were possible to buy that car and own it once again? After all, many of us have significant memories of life events that are tied to a car in some form or another – think a favorite road trip, a memorable vacation, maybe even a marriage proposal! Maybe, just maybe, that car still exists somewhere and you might be able to get your hands on it again. Here’s a few thoughts as to how you can find that special car.
To get started on your task, you need as much information as possible. Answer these questions first: Do you have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)? Do you have an old license plate number? Do I have a photo of the car? Do you know the history of the car before you bought it? All of these items can help in your search.
First, having the VIN will be a major piece of data. The VIN appears not just on any old titles you may have but also on the registration and insurance card, as well as loan papers. So the first step is to see if you saved any paperwork on the car. Dulles Kia in Leesburg, VA suggests you can check with the insurance company you had at the time to see if it has records that go back to the car you’re looking for. The same goes for the bank that held the loan (if you had one). This is a long shot, but if your car went to a dealership, a mechanic or a body shop for repairs back in the day, there is a chance that the VIN was written on the receipt. Also, not to bring up bad memories, but if your car was involved in an accident when you had it there probably is relevant data on a police report and any insurance claims.
OK, now for the potentially discouraging part. Once you have your old VIN, can the DMV help you locate the car? The answer is that “It depends”. Some state DMVs will help you out but most will not. This rule stems from the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994. This act contains specific regulations regarding how the DMV is to protect drivers’ private information, which agencies and individuals can lawfully be granted access to it and under what circumstances. If your local DMV won’t help you, many people drop buy their local police station and ask if they can help and others employ a licensed private investigator, as they have access to that data.
Unfortunately, most people will be forced to venture beyond the DMV and vehicle history report websites and appeal directly to the people. You will find hundreds of car enthusiast websites that will allow you to place ad, posts or even a story about the search for your long, lost ride. Write a catchy title, the car’s year, make, and model; the car’s VIN (if you have it); its color inside and out; its drivetrain, including engine, transmission, and rear end and a nice human interest story – “It was my first and favorite car…” It would also be helpful if you included what years you owned it, what town and state you lived in (when you owned it), the name of the person you sold it to and when, what town and state that person lived in at the time.
And of course, there’s the internet. Periodically, load the VIN into Google, Bing and Yahoo and see what comes back. For a more precise search, just list the VIN, not the make and model. The important part is not to be discouraged. It is unlikely that you will find your old car right away, and, let’s face it, it may have made its way to a salvage yard. In any regards, happy hunting!