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Abandoned Cars - What's The Procedure?

Seeing cars on the side of the street or dumped rotting and waiting to be found in some other hidden location is not new in Australia. In fact, you may know of a car that hasn't moved in your street for months as it collects cobwebs.

Unless you have dealt with an abandoned car before, you are probably wondering what the procedure is. In this article, we will cover this topic.

But first, we have to clarify when is a car considered abandoned. Also, we will cover how to report an abandoned car and what happens to them.

Read on to find out and understand what the procedure is for abandoned cars.

When Does a Car Become Considered Abandoned?

This is a great first question to cover. Sure you may have noticed a car sitting on the side of the road that looks like it hasn't been driven in weeks, but that doesn't mean it has been discarded by its owner.

So when is a vehicle considered abandoned?

There are various parameters, which can vary depending on your state or region's governing council. Essentially each council have their own rules to determine if a car is abandoned and whether they should impound the vehicle. 

However, in most cases, these are the general rules to consider:

  • A car that is left on the street for more than two months.
  • Cars that appear to be in a disused state.
  • Cars left on the road with an expired or cancelled registration.

Of course, as mentioned, the rules change from one area to another. For example, some councils allow a car to be parked legally for any length of time if it is near the residence of the registered owner. 

Moreover, cars parked on your own property are not considered abandoned, even if they have been left idle for years.

What Can You Do if You Suspect an Abandoned Vehicle?

If you believe a vehicle is abandoned, you can report it to the city council where the vehicle is located. They will then investigate to determine if the vehicle is truly abandoned.

When reporting, you will need to provide the council with:

  • The vehicle’s registration number
  • Vehicle details (type, colour, make, and model)
  • Location including street name and suburb.
  • And the condition of the vehicle

You could also take a photo and send it to them. This can assist with your report to show the exact location on the street and the condition of the vehicle.

Simply do a google search for "report abandoned car in city name" to find an email address or phone number to allow you to report it.

What Happens to Abandoned Cars

When the council receives a report of a suspected abandoned car they usually follow a process like this:


In order to investigate a claim of an abandoned car, the registration details are checked and the police may be involved. The Police may check if this vehicle is reported stolen or if the owner has run into trouble. 

If there is no crime associated with the vehicle, a community officer may be contacted to inspect the vehicle and attempt to locate or contact the owner. 

This can be done in a number of ways including phone, mail or even door-knocking to gather information on the whereabouts of the owner or contact the person registered on the vehicle. 

If the community officer finds the owner, they may ask the owner to move the vehicle if necessary. 


If upon inspection, the community deems that the vehicle can be considered abandoned, the council will put a notice on the vehicle requesting the removal of the vehicle within a set time period. 

If the vehicle isn’t moved, it will be impounded after the time period expires. This time period can range from days to months depending on local laws and regulations.

It is also worth noting that vehicles of larger size or ones impacting general safety may be impounded sooner. Sometimes without any notice.


If no contact is made with the registered owner within the allotted period or they simply ignore the notice, the council will impound the vehicle and tow it to the city’s designated holding facility. 


If the owner of the impounded vehicle suddenly resurfaces and wants to get their vehicle, they can do so by showing proof of ownership and settling the fees with the City Council. 


If however, the impounded vehicle is left unclaimed after another certain period of time, it will be sold at an auction or destroyed. 

How To Abandon A Car Properly

As you can see, leaving a car to rot on the side of the road is both time and resource-wasting.

If you have a car sitting in the garage that is in poor condition, you should never abandon it. Instead, you can get rid of it by selling it to wreckers.

Wreckers are in the business of dismantling cars and selling spare parts and metal (by weight). 

Alternatively, if a car is still in a good condition but you want to get rid of it quickly, you can sell it to car dealers or car restorers who will buy it and fix it up for profit. 

Final Thoughts

The local city is usually responsible for dealing with abandoned vehicles. If you suspect a car is abandoned you should report it to them.

Alternatively, if you own a car that you plan to get rid of, there are options you can do to make some money out of it, instead of just dumping it.

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