How To Find My Old Car Without The VIN?

If you've lost your car's VIN, don't worry. Learn how to locate your old car using other methods like license plates and registration papers. Learn more here.

Experiencing “seller’s remorse” is a genuine feeling that many people go through. Sometimes, even when we believe it is necessary to part with something, we may feel regretful afterward. Whether cruising down the road on a chilly winter morning, demonstrating our driving skills by performing burnouts, or driving freely on deserted roads for miles, our memories with our favorite car stick with us for a lifetime. Have you ever wondered what happened to your favorite ride that you sold in the past? If you want to find out “how to find my old car,” this article will provide the necessary information.

Everything good must come to an end. Although these memories of our beloved car may be lost, they will always hold a special place in our hearts and contribute to the person we become in the future.

However, some people may not be ready to say goodbye to their cherished vehicle. Even if it may not bring them happiness to regain possession, some people would still want to find out what became of their car for a sense of closure.

Cars are a significant investment for many, especially those who cannot afford multiple vehicles. If you are experiencing seller’s remorse after giving away your old car, you may want to seek closure. To find out how to find your old car without the VIN, read on.

What is a VIN?

What is a VIN
Image Source: Holt Lloyd

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a shortened version of the engine number, chassis number, and identification number and is typically inscribed at various locations on a vehicle. In addition to being found on the insurance card, police reports, and vehicle registration book, a VIN is 5 to 17 digits in length (with cars manufactured after 1981 typically having 17 digits.)

The VIN is unique to each vehicle and is a coded combination of the vehicle’s information. Knowing the VIN brings you closer to finding the car in real life. Similar to a human fingerprint, the VIN is the unique identifier for a vehicle and is necessary for registering a car in any state or obtaining car insurance.

If you have the VIN, you can quickly solve the problem of “How to find my old car?” by using an online VIN decoder or a free VIN decoder to perform a vehicle history check. Although these tools are typically used when purchasing a secondhand car, they are also effective in locating old cars. While the free version may only provide basic information, such as the model, maker, and vehicle year, it is still a useful starting point.

How to find a car that you previously owned without a VIN?

old car
Image Source:

If you don’t have the VIN, you can find the car you previously owned in several ways:

  • Run Advertisements for your old VIN: To locate the vehicle’s current owner or anyone who may have seen it, consider posting online and offline ads. The ad should include comprehensive details about the vehicle, such as the make, model, year, color, engine type, and other unique features. Posting the ad in the vehicle’s last location can yield faster results. Even if the vehicle has been relocated, someone in that area may still have valuable information to share. Additionally, specifying the reason for your ad search can help alleviate people’s apprehension about responding to it.
  • Reach out to the last known buyer: If you possess information about the individual who purchased the car, consider contacting them to inquire about the car’s current whereabouts or any information regarding the individual who may have purchased it subsequently. If you have a name, you could conduct an online search to locate their social media account or phone number to make contact.
  • Search on online forums: There are several online resources that you can use to find your old car, even without the VIN. Websites like Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace are platforms where people often sell their cars. You can search for your old car’s make, model, and year and see if it’s listed for sale. Platforms like The Lost Car Registry, Audi World, Bimmer Forums, and Honda Tech Put up a post and browse through the cars available on these websites. Who knows, your old car might be back on the market again!
  • Search through auctions: Several auctioneers now sell old cars through online bidding. If your vehicle is still rolling, you can find it here. Some of the most popular auctions include Catawiki, Classic Cars, The Market, Old Cars Weekly, Classic Cars For Sale, and Proxibid.
  • Through Facebook groups: Private Facebook groups cater to automotive enthusiasts who share a common interest in a specific car manufacturer or model, much like online forums. Enthusiasts seeking less common but well-liked cars like the E30 BMW M3 will likely find better search results. However, those searching for an old Toyota Corolla may have limited success locating it through a forum or group.

Remember that the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not give out information regarding the vehicle’s owner. Hence, searching for your vehicle at the DMV may not be fruitful. However, if you can hire an agent or private investigator to find your old car, they may have access to the purchase history of the car as well as ownership information that might prove helpful.

Finding The VIN From Old Documents

Old Documents
Image Source: Canva

Not many car owners know this, but your car’s VIN is found on a number of documents that you may still possess. For example, maybe you kept a copy of the registration card or the owner’s manual as a keepsake or souvenir? The VIN is recorded on this as well. Similarly, if your car was ever in an accident, the police report will also note down the pin. Look through old papers to find them.

If you took a loan to buy the car, the receipt would also include the VIN. You may have had the car insured. In that case, the insurance card will have the VIN information of your old car in it as well. You can also request their information from the insurance company if it still exists. Look through all old documents, files, and envelopes to find the information you seek. Ask your parents to look for it in their documents too. Such things have a way of staying safe and well-protected and may make your quest to find your old lost car a lot easier.

Your car’s registration plate or number can also provide a strong lead. Every state DMV has its own rules and limitations when it comes to dispensing out information, and chances are they will not release any ownership information. Still, if your car is in the system, they will be able to locate it. You can then request them for the VIN and use it to locate your vehicle. You can go the same route using your driver’s license as well.

What If I Can’t Remember The VIN?

a man trying to remember
Image Source: Canva

If you can’t remember the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of your previously owned car, don’t worry. There are still some methods that you can use to find it.

  • Bill of sale: A basic bill of sale is typically prepared and signed by both parties whenever a vehicle is sold, and it usually includes the vehicle’s VIN number. You should check your personal records for a copy of this document.
  • Use License Plate Number or driver’s license number: One way to locate your old car is to use the license plate number. To retrieve the VIN of your vehicle, you can visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and provide them with your license plate number. Alternatively, you can provide your driver’s license number for the same purpose. The DMV maintains a database of every vehicle you have owned, regardless of whether you have moved to a different state.
  • Search old paperwork: If you have any old paperwork related to the car, such as a title or registration, look for the VIN on those documents. You may have kept some of the paperwork even if you don’t have the physical car; you may have kept some of the paperwork. Check old files, boxes, or storage areas to see if you can find any relevant documents.
  • Contact previous insurance company: Another method is to contact the insurance company you used to insure the car. The company may have records of the car’s VIN and can provide you with information about the car’s history, including any accidents the car may have been involved in.

Finding My Old Car

a person sifting through files
Image Source: Canva

So you have (finally!) tracked down your VIN. Great! Now how do you get to your car?

For starters, search for your car with the VIN on popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. If you don’t have any luck with the first few searches, don’t give up. Search for your car after every few weeks. It might pop up somewhere, and you can track it down.

Secondly, hire a private investigator to get your ownership information from your state’s DMV. Ensure the investigator is exempted from the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, DPPA, and is authorized to provide you with personal details of the current owner of your car.

You can also perform a VIN check online and see if your car was reported stolen. The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s website provides a free VIN checker for your car. Enter your VIN and see if the results match the car you are looking for. If not, there is a high chance your VIN has been replaced.

To wrap it up, yes, you can find a lost car without the VIN, but the first step will be to find the VIN number. This may not be as challenging as it sounds with information readily available online.

Good luck with your search!

How to find the VIN number, Youtube video:


Do you need to find your old vehicle without the VIN?

If you have lost or misplaced your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and need to locate your old vehicle, it can be a challenging task. However, it is not impossible to find your vehicle without the VIN. You may need to go through some extra steps, but it is doable.

Finding your old vehicle without the VIN may require some extra effort, but it is possible. By gathering as much information as possible and utilizing various resources, you can increase your chances of locating your vehicle.

How can you get started with finding your old vehicle without the VIN?

To get started with finding your old vehicle without the VIN, gather as much information as possible about your vehicle, such as the make and model, year of manufacture, color, license plate number, and any other unique features. This information can assist you in locating your vehicle through various resources such as online search engines, vehicle history reports, and insurance companies.

Another option is to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your state, as they may have records of your old vehicle. You can provide them with any information you have about the vehicle, and they may be able to assist you in locating it.

What do you think is the hardest thing when finding your old vehicle without the VIN?

The hardest thing when finding your old vehicle without the VIN is the lack of a unique identifier that can be used to track it down. This means that you will need to rely on other information, such as the make and model, year of manufacture, color, license plate number, and any other unique features, in order to locate the vehicle. This can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible with the right resources and effort.


If you’ve lost track of an old car you used to own, you may be wondering how to find it again. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the vehicle identification number (VIN), your options may be limited. There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of finding your old car including checking your old paperwork, searching online, contacting local law enforcement, and talking to friends and family. While finding an old car without the VIN can be challenging, it’s not impossible. By following the tips and being persistent, you may be able to track down your old ride and reunite with it once again.

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

Tony Benett makes his living in the insurance industry by teaching and consulting. He is also recognized by the legal profession as an expert on insurance coverages. His insurance experience includes having worked at the company level, owned an independent general agency and having worked for an insurance association. He has received various certificates over the past few years and helps his clients and readers by giving them a realistic outlook on what they can expect to achieve within their set targets. At Insurance Noon, he is known for his in-depth analysis and attention to details with accuracy. He has been published as one of the most referred agents by his peers in the insurance community. Tony loves the outdoors and most sport events. His passion other than providing excellent advice is playing golf.