July 8

How to find the current owner of a vehicle?

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Whether you just witnessed a hit and run or someone is trying to sell you their truck, there is a legitimate reason as to why you’d want to know the identity of the vehicle’s owner. But this is easier said than done; before you succeed in this endeavor, it will require some investigation skills.

Luckily, there are several ways you can do this depending on the resources you have at hand. So, the next time you notice a “suspicious” car abandoned in your driveway, this post will guide you how to find the current owner of a vehicle. 

What Information Do You Need?

If you’re planning to determine the identity of a vehicle’s owner, various resources will help you to achieve your goal. This will include information about the car such as:

  • The license plate number of the vehicle
  • Car make and model
  • Vehicle Identification Number -commonly referred to as VIN
  • Unique characteristics, e.g. paintwork, dents, accessories, etc.

Any of the above information will come in handy in your search for the vehicle’s owner depending on the method you want to pursue. 

Finding a Vehicle’s Current Owner

There are several ways you can do this, as long as you have the relevant car information available. 

Notifying the Authorities 

Calling the Police

Calling the Police would be the right thing to do if you just witnessed an accident, a hit-and-run, vandalism on an abandoned car, or any other kind of illegal behavior. Needless to say, you shouldn’t attempt to track the car owner alone as this could easily lead you down a rabbit hole. 

When you call the police, they’ll ask you to provide key pieces of information about the car. If possible, you might want to take a close look at the vehicle to obtain information such as the model and make of car and license plate.

The Vehicle Identification Number is another crucial piece of data that will assist you to find the owner of the car. If you are in a position to get close enough to the vehicle, you may be able to see the VIN by peeping through the dashboard. On most cars, it’s usually on the left bottom corner of the dashboard (driver’s side).

Even after providing law enforcement with the details, remember to also give them your personal details to stay ahead of the matter. 

Consult Your Insurance Company

This is a course of action you’d want to take if your vehicle was hit by a motorist that sped off or in case of a stolen car. If you’re considering  the possibility of a claim or filing one, approach your insurance company. 

Insurance agencies have resources that you may not have and they can find the owner of the vehicle relatively easy. Just remember to provide accurate information about the “suspect” vehicle and cooperate fully with them. 

Contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles

Another way you can use the authorities is by going to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You’ll be asked to provide the vehicle’s license plate and VIN. While they may not be able to provide the information directly to you, they may give it to your insurance agent, lawyer, or any other relevant third party. 

Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Using Online Resources

You can use several online resources to perform VIN reference checks. Most of these, especially those offering a free search are there to help people buying second-hand cars to check if they are not buying a stolen car. 

Alternatively, if you pay for the service, they’ll let you access search engines that will provide you with more detailed personal identification details like name, phone number, or even address. 

You should also be wary of using the information you obtained as there is no complete guarantee that the data provided is genuine. You might, therefore, have to go a step further and double-check the information. 

Use Available Resources 

Check the Title

When buying or selling a car you should have the paperwork pertaining to the transaction. The information is contained in the Certificate of Title and will have the details of both the seller and buyer of the car. Search the house to find your Certificate of Title.

This  approach is useful when you previously sold your old car and you are trying to locate the new owner or if you just bought a used car and you’re trying to locate the previous owner. In this case, you should have the relevant paperwork to help you find the details of the owner. 

Certificate of Title

Check the Bill of Sale

Another document that you can use is the bill of sale. This document is usually optional in some states while in others it is a requirement. It identifies the seller, as well as the current owner of the vehicle. 

Typically, the bill of sale isn’t recorded with the motor vehicle registry. It is a document you’re likely to keep somewhere from the last sale of the vehicle and will prove beneficial when you want to track down the vehicle’s owner. 

Check Accessible Accident/Insurance Reports

If you can dig up any old records about insurance claims or accidents that the vehicle might have been involved in, this might lead you to the current owner. You may end up finding details with the car’s VIN that you’ll use to search for more information online.

You can reach out to the relevant insurance company to locate any related documents. If you happen to misplace the records, the insurance company’s record system will probably have information that will be useful for your quest. 

Get in Touch with Car Clubs

There are numerous car clubs on the web that have records of car enthusiasts. All you need to do is search for the words “car clubs” and you’ll gain access to countless resources. If, for instance, you spot a classic model model like a Mustang on the road and you are curious to know who the owner is, you can take note of the descriptive features on the car.

Just go to any of the local car clubs you found under your google search and type in the details of the car as uniquely as possible. This will significantly narrow down the search and take you closer to finding the person you’re looking for. 

You will find car clubs that provide very personal details about the owner, including name and other contact information. If you’re lucky enough, you might even get the home address of the owner.

Do Your Own Advertising

Place a Traditional Ad in the Paper

This may not be the best way to trace a vehicle’s owner but if you are keen on finding them, then you can’t leave any stone unturned. This is especially true if you believe that the owner is in your geographical area. 

Contact the local dailies to run an ad with the relevant information and description of the car. You can even state the reason for your search and provide contact details so that they can get in touch with you. If you’re lucky, the owner will see the ad and call you personally. 

Advertise on a Car Magazine

If the vehicle in question is a vintage model that you feel may be a collectible item, then you can try posting a classified ad in a popular car magazine. There are many car enthusiasts reading a number of car magazines, so you can hope your mystery guy is also a car enthusiast.

Just like in the newspaper ad, describe the appearance of the car and any unique features it has. Don’t also forget to leave behind your contact information in the event the car owner stumbles upon the ad. 

Note that you shouldn’t post too much confidential information about yourself that may compromise your safety and that of your household. If you have to meet the person after being contacted, do it in a public space. 

Post the Ad on Social Media

Social media is probably the fastest way to get your word out there. Not only is its reach unlimited, the message also gets to your intended audience in the blink of an eye. There are numerous social media platforms you can use for this, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc.

Just find the trendiest hashtag on social media and post your ad there. It would be better if you have a picture of the car so that you can post it alongside the message you want to send out. If it’s a car you spotted in your neighborhood, this becomes much easier for you to find the owner.


Conclusion

The methods above are all useful to find the current owner of a vehicle. Whichever you decide to go with, remember not to provide too much of your personal information that may expose you to shady characters. 

Hopefully, you have a legitimate reason why you are searching for the owner of the car and there’s nothing suspicious about your endeavor!

About the author 

James Ruhle

Hi, I'm James. I've owned everything from a 1998 Renault Clio, to a modern BMW M3 and even a Tesla Model S. I've driven from Oslo, Norway, all the way to Budapest and back, and am a roadtripoholic. I hope you enjoyed this post from Healthycar.org, a blog I created to share some of the best tips and tricks, as well as products I've found to keep your car in great condition.

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