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Abandoned Car – Everything You Need To Know

Abandoned Car

Have you ever seen an abandoned car on the side of the road and wondered what to do about it? Abandoned cars can be an eyesore, take up valuable parking spaces, and pose potential safety hazards. If you live in New South Wales (NSW), it’s essential to understand the rules and regulations surrounding abandoned cars. 

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about abandoned cars in NSW. From identifying abandoned cars to the legal considerations and removal process, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to take appropriate action when you encounter an abandoned car. So, let’s dive in and learn about abandoned cars in NSW!

What is an Abandoned Car?

An abandoned car is a vehicle that has been left unattended on public or private property without the owner’s permission for an extended period of time. The length of time that a car must be left unattended before it is considered abandoned varies by state, but it typically ranges from a few days to several weeks.

Abandoned cars can be a nuisance for a number of reasons. They can be an eyesore and decrease the property value of the surrounding area. They can also pose a safety hazard, as they may attract criminals or be a source of environmental pollution if they leak fluids or hazardous materials.

Abandoned cars can also be a burden on local governments and law enforcement agencies, as they may be responsible for removing the vehicle and disposing of it. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, and the expenses may ultimately be passed on to taxpayers.

It’s important to note that not all cars that appear to be abandoned are actually abandoned. For example, a car may be parked on the street for an extended period of time because the owner is on vacation or is temporarily unable to drive due to an illness or injury.

If you suspect that a car may be abandoned, it’s important to take appropriate action to determine the status of the vehicle. Depending on the jurisdiction, this may involve contacting local law enforcement, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a tow company. It’s important to follow the appropriate legal procedures for reporting an abandoned car to ensure that it is handled properly and legally.

There are four types of abandoned cars- 

Public Abandoned Cars:

Public abandoned cars are vehicles left on public roads, highways, and parking areas for an extended period. These cars may be abandoned due to accidents, mechanical problems, or other reasons. Public abandoned cars are often reported to local authorities, who will then determine the appropriate action, which could include towing the vehicle and impounding it until the owner reclaims it.

Private Abandoned Cars:

Private abandoned cars are vehicles left on private property, such as a driveway or parking lot, for an extended period without the owner’s consent or intention to return. These vehicles can pose a significant problem for property owners, as they take up space and can become eyesores. The property owner may need to take legal action to have the vehicle removed.

Impounded Abandoned Cars:

Impounded abandoned cars are vehicles that have been towed and impounded by authorities for various reasons, such as illegal parking, unpaid fines, or expired registration. In some cases, these vehicles may be considered abandoned if the owner fails to reclaim them within a specified time. Once the impound lot holds the vehicle for a certain period, the authorities may take legal action to sell or dispose of it.

Junkyard Abandoned Cars:

Junkyard abandoned cars are vehicles that are no longer in use or are beyond repair and have been taken to a junkyard or scrapyard. These cars are often stripped of usable parts and eventually crushed and recycled. While these vehicles may not be considered abandoned in the traditional sense, they still fall under the category of abandoned cars due to their neglected status and lack of use.

How to Identify an Abandoned Car

Identifying an abandoned car can be crucial in helping to keep your community safe and clean. Abandoned cars are not only an eyesore but can also pose a danger to public health and safety. Knowing how to identify an abandoned car can help you take the necessary steps to report and remove it. Here are some tips on how to identify an abandoned car:

  • Check the condition of the car: One of the easiest ways to identify an abandoned car is by looking at its condition. If the car is severely damaged, has flat tires, or is missing important parts such as windows or mirrors, it is likely abandoned.
  • Look for expired registration: Another sign of an abandoned car is an expired registration. Check for a current registration sticker or licence plates to see if the car is legally parked.
  • Check for dirt: Abandoned cars are often left untouched for a long time and can collect dirt, cobwebs, and other debris. Look for signs of neglect, such as overgrown vegetation around the car, to help identify if the car has been abandoned.
  • Check for parking violations: In many cities, parking violations can be an indication that a car has been abandoned. Look for any parking tickets or notices that have been placed on the car.
  • Check the location: Abandoned cars are often parked in secluded or unused areas such as alleyways, vacant lots, or industrial parks. If you see a car parked in an unusual or remote location for an extended period, it may be abandoned.

If you suspect that a car is abandoned, it is essential to report it to the appropriate authorities. Contact your local police department or city officials to report the abandoned car and provide the make, model, and licence plate number of the vehicle. 

Legal Considerations of Abandoned Cars in NSW

In NSW, the legal framework governing abandoned cars is set out in the Impounding Act 1993 and the Road Transport Act 2013. According to these Acts, if a vehicle has been abandoned, the owner of the land or the local council can take steps to have it removed.

The law requires that the owner of the land where the car has been abandoned must take reasonable steps to locate the owner of the vehicle before taking any action to have it removed. The owner of the land must also notify the local council of the abandoned vehicle.

If the owner of the land is unable to locate the owner of the vehicle, they can apply to the local council to have the vehicle removed. The council may then issue a notice to the owner of the vehicle, giving them 28 days to claim the vehicle or it will be disposed of.

If the vehicle remains unclaimed, the council can sell it at auction or dispose of it. The proceeds from the sale of the vehicle will be used to cover the costs of towing and storage.

Abandoned Car Removal Process

Abandoned cars can be a nuisance and a hazard, and it’s important to know how to properly remove them. The process of an abandoned car removal can vary depending on the location and the jurisdiction, but here are some general steps that are typically involved.

Identify the Abandoned Car

The first step is to identify the abandoned car and determine who is responsible for its removal. Depending on the location, this could be the local government, law enforcement, or the property owner.

Contact the Appropriate Authorities

Once the abandoned car has been identified, the appropriate authorities should be contacted. This could be the local police department, public works department, or the environmental health department. They will provide guidance on how to proceed with the removal process and what documentation is required.

Notify the Owner

If possible, the owner of the abandoned car should be notified of the removal process. This could be done by posting a notice on the car or contacting the owner directly if their information is available. The owner may have the option to reclaim the car before it is towed and disposed of.

Towing the Car

Once all necessary documentation has been obtained and the owner has been notified, the abandoned car can be towed. The tow truck operator will need to have the proper equipment and experience to safely remove the car from its location.

Disposing of the Car

After the car has been towed, it will need to be disposed of properly. Depending on the condition of the car and local regulations, it may be taken to a salvage yard, a landfill, or a recycling centre.

Cost of Removal

The cost of removing an abandoned car can vary depending on the location and the services required. In some cases, the cost may be covered by the local government, but in other cases, the cost may need to be borne by the property owner or the person who reported the abandoned car.

Overall, the process of removing an abandoned car can be complicated and time-consuming. It’s important to follow the proper steps and work with the appropriate authorities to ensure that the car is removed safely and legally.

Reclaiming an Abandoned Car

When a car is abandoned, it can be a frustrating and inconvenient situation for everyone involved. However, if you believe that an abandoned car on public or private property is yours, you may be able to reclaim it. Reclaiming an abandoned car involves following a specific process to prove your ownership and pay any necessary fees.

Here’s what you need to know about reclaiming an abandoned car:

  • Determine Ownership: The first step in reclaiming an abandoned car is to determine whether you have a legal right to the vehicle. If you have the original title, registration, or bill of sale for the car, this will be an easy process. However, if you don’t have any of these documents, you may need to research the vehicle’s history to prove your ownership.
  • Contact Authorities: Once you have established that you are the rightful owner of the abandoned car, you will need to contact the authorities. Depending on the location of the car, you may need to contact local law enforcement, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a private tow company.
  • Provide Documentation: When you contact the authorities, be prepared to provide documentation to prove your ownership of the car. This may include the vehicle’s title, registration, or bill of sale, as well as your driver’s licence or other identification.
  • Pay Any Fees: Depending on the circumstances, there may be fees associated with reclaiming an abandoned car. For example, you may need to pay towing or impound fees, as well as any outstanding parking fines. Be prepared to pay these fees in order to reclaim the car.
  • Retrieve the Vehicle: Once you have provided the necessary documentation and paid any fees, you will be able to retrieve the abandoned car. This may involve picking it up from a tow yard or other impound location.

Reclaiming an abandoned car can be a time-consuming and complicated process, but it is possible if you can prove your ownership and follow the necessary steps. If you are unsure about your legal rights to an abandoned car or need assistance with the process, consider contacting a local attorney or legal aid organisation for guidance.


In conclusion, abandoned cars are a serious problem that can impact public safety, the environment, and property values. It’s important to know how to identify and report abandoned cars to the appropriate authorities, and to understand the legal considerations and removal process. Reclaiming an abandoned car is possible, but it requires proving ownership and paying any associated fees. By taking these steps, we can work towards reducing the number of abandoned cars and creating safer, cleaner communities for everyone. Remember, abandoned cars are not just an eyesore, but a potential hazard that should be addressed promptly.

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