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19 Feb 2019
Jamie Gibbs Jamie Gibbs

How to report an abandoned car

A rusted abandoned car on the side of the road

Use this helpful search tool to report an abandoned car in your local area

Spotted a deserted motor that’s gathering rust? Here’s how you help get rid of it.

There are many ways to get rid of an old car. You can sell it, for one. Scrapping it is another option. You can even give it to charity.

But some drivers feel their best option is to abandon their car on the roadside and never return.

Not only are these cars a bit of an eyesore, they can become a dangerous obstruction on the road.

So if you spot an abandoned car and want to do your civic duty, here’s how you go about reporting it.


How do I know if a car is abandoned?

There’s no definite definition as to what ‘abandoned’ means. But it’s a likely candidate if the car in question is:

  • Untaxed.

  • Stationary for a significant period of time.

  • Significantly damaged or unroadworthy.

  • Burned out.

  • Missing number plates.

Being ‘unroadworthy’ could mean that the tyres are flat, the wheels are gone or there are broken windows, for example.

It’s worth mentioning that, even if a car is run-down or untaxed, it may not mean it’s abandoned.

How do I report an abandoned car?

It’s your local council’s responsibility to deal with abandoned cars. Most councils have a contact number or form on their website where you can report a car that’s deserted.

If the car is causing an obstruction or is in a dangerous position, you can phone the police on 101.

You can use the search tool above to find out who to contact, based on your local council.

Different councils will need different amounts of information from you. At the very least you’ll need to give them:

  • The location of the abandoned car.

  • The registration number (if it has a number plate).

  • The make, model and colour of the car.

What happens after I make the report?

The local council and police will investigate. First, they’ll determine if the car is actually abandoned. Then they’ll try to locate and contact the registered keeper. The police may also investigate if the car has been reported as stolen. 

For a car that’s abandoned on a public road, the council will wait seven days for the registered keeper to respond.

After that, if the car is still there, they’ll arrange to have it removed or disposed of.

Abandoning a car is a criminal offence. The offending owner could be made to pay the removal costs, be hit with a fine or have to go to court.

If the council decide to dispose of the car, they may have it destroyed or sold at auction.

What about abandoned cars that are on private land?

Councils will issue a 15-day notice on the car rather than a seven-day notice. If the land owner objects to the removal, no further action will be taken. If there are no objections, the council will take the car.

Can I report an untaxed car or one with no MOT?

Now that tax discs have gone, spotting an untaxed car is more difficult.

You need to check online using the licence plate to see if the car has valid tax or not.

If a car is untaxed, you can report it at GOV.UK.

If you discover that a car has no MOT, you should call the police on the non-emergency number 101.


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