All of us have special memories with our dream cars in the past. Whether it was cruising with friends, drifting around the cul de sac, racing against strangers or just going on a long, soulful road trip, our vehicles play an important role in some of our best and most cherished moments in life.
If you’ve parted with such a special vehicle before and are now hoping to find it again, there are a few ways to go about it. But what if I have forgotten the old VIN number, you may ask? Can I find my old car without the VIN?
The answer is a bit complicated. Yes, you can find your old car bu,t in most cases, you do need the VIN. You just need some patience and a lot of effort to get the VIN.To begin with, let’s quickly go through what a VIN is and why it’s important.
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What is VIN number?
A VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. It’s also commonly known as the chassis number, engine number and the identification number. It’s usually inscribed at a number of different places on the vehicle as well as on the Vehicle Registration Book, Insurance Card and Police Reports etc. The VIN number is 5 to 17 digits long, with the standard now at 17 for cars produced after 1981. For example a sample VIN number might be 1HGBM11JXMN116574.
You can think of a VIN number as your car’s unique fingerprint. It’s not a random collection of digits and alphabets, but a specific combination of your car’s information, coded uniquely for each special vehicle. Hence, knowing the VIN number is the first step in getting together with your old car.Find My VIN Number Online
Run Advertisements for your old VIN number
The first thing to do while looking for your old car is post an advertisement. Give clear information about the make, colour, model and year of the vehicle and if possible, any identifying features like vinyls or modifications. State why you’re looking for the car and give easily accessible contact information. You can put up these advertisements in and around the last known location of the car or in mechanic’s shops, fuel pumps or grocery stores and even online. Your goal is to reach out to as many people as possible who may know the whereabouts of your beloved machine or can give you some information regarding it. And just to make sure relevant people actually reach back to you, throw in a little reward for providing any leads. Small price to pay for meeting an old companion if you ask me!
Reach Out To The Last Known Buyer
If you have the contact information of the last buyer, get in touch with them. If their phone number is not working any more, look them up on social media forums like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Use hashtags to get better results. The last owner of your car can guide you to the next person that bought it from them. From there, you may be able to track down your car and what became of it.
You can also join groups on Facebook that cater to car enthusiasts like yourself. Become a part of these groups and sift through the posts to look for your car. You have a better chance of finding popular cars here rather than the regular ones. It is worth a shot, though.
Search On Online Forums
There are quite a few online forums that help owners reunite with their old cars. Some of these include
The Lost Car Registry
You can also use a specific forum for your car’s model and make. These forums gather together enthusiasts, sellers and owners of classic cars. Put up a post and browse through the cars available on these websites. Who knows, you old car might be back on the market again!
Search Through Auctions
A number of auctioneers now put up old cars for sale through online bidding. If your car is still rolling, it may be able to find it here. Some of the most popular auctions include
Keep in mind that the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not give out information regarding the owner of the vehicle. Hence, searching for your vehicle on the DMV will probably not be fruitful. However, if you can hire an agent or private investigator to find your old car, then 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
Not many car owners know this, but your car’s VIN number 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 number 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 it.
If you took a loan to buy the car, then the receipt will also include the VIN number. Maybe you 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 contact the insurance company as well if it still exists and request information from them too. Look through all old documents, files and envelopes to find the information you are looking for. 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 of finding your old lost car a lot easier.
The registration plate or number of your car 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, but if your car is in the system, they will be able to locate it. You can then proceed to requesting them for the VIN and use it to locate your car. You can go the same route using your driver’s license as well.
Finding My Old Car
So you have (finally!) tracked down your VIN number. Great! Now how do you get to your car?
For starters, search for your car with the VIN number 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’ll be able to track it down.
Secondly, hire a private investigator to get you ownership information from your state’s DMV. Make sure the investigator is exempted from the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, DPPA, and is authorised 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.
So 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. With information readily available to us online, this may not be as hard as it sounds.
Good luck with your search!