Tons of people have seller’s remorse after they part from a vehicle. But if you find yourself thinking about a vehicle that you sold years ago, why not see if you can’t repurchase it?
While it might seem like an impossible task to track down a vehicle you used to own, if you have a little information and a ton of dedication, it’s easier than you think to find your old vehicle!
Find the Car with the VIN
The best way to find a car you previously owned is to use the VIN. With the VIN, you can check the current owner of the car easily.
While you might get lucky and find your car without the VIN, having the VIN makes everything a million times easier. If you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to track down your VIN after all this time, keep reading, and we’ll help you get the information you need.
How to Track Down the VIN
If you don’t have the VIN finding your vehicle is far from guaranteed. But if you can track down the VIN and are willing to spend a little money, the chances are that you’ll find it.
1. Old Paperwork
If you have any of your old registration or insurance forms, the chances are that the vehicle’s VIN is there. Whether you’re a hoarder or just keep excellent records, this is one of the easiest ways to track down your old vehicle’s VIN.
2. Hit Up the DMV!
Just because you don’t have any of the old registration paperwork doesn’t mean that you can’t track down where your vehicle is at. For starters, the DMV typically holds onto all of that information.
You’ll need one of two things to track down the VIN for your old vehicle. If you still have the same driver’s license number that you had when you owned the vehicle, that’s all you’ll need. If you don’t, but you have your old license plate number, that will work too.
Whether you give them a call or visit them in person, simply give them this information and ask if you can get the VIN. They aren’t allowed to tell you who currently owns the vehicle, though, so you’ll have to settle for just the VIN.
3. Try the Insurance Company!
Whether you don’t want to deal with the DMV or you don’t have the required information, there’s another bureaucratic behemoth that you can call for information – the insurance company you were using when you had the car.
They have to keep records of all the vehicles they have insured, so if you give them a call, they should be able to provide you with the VIN.
4. The Bill of Sale
While this is technically a piece of paperwork, it’s not one that people think about all that often. But every bill of sale is required to have the vehicle’s VIN on it. So, if you can track down the bill of sale from when you purchased or sold the vehicle, you should be able to get the VIN.
Find Your Car when you found the VIN!
Once you’ve tracked down the VIN, the best thing you can do to try and find your vehicle is to use a service like CARFAX. While CARFAX isn’t free, it’s almost a surefire way to find your vehicle, as long as it’s still registered.
Full CARFAX reports will give you everything you need to know, the current and previous owners, mileage, maintenance records, an accident history, and so much more.
Once you have the current owner’s information, though, you can track them down and reach out to find your car!
If you’re not willing to spend the money for a CARFAX report, you can try Googling the VIN or using some of the free VIN decoders to try and track it down.
If you’re Googling the VIN, make sure to put parenthesis around it, and Google will search the Internet for exact matches. While this might not generate any results, if you keep trying periodically, you might get lucky.
If you’re tired of waiting or can’t find any results, CARFAX will always be an option waiting for you if you’re willing to pay.
Keep in mind that while CARFAX is a great tool, CARFAX doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to track down the new owner. That means you might end up spending a little money and never finding your old vehicle.
Without the VIN
If you don’t have the vehicle’s VIN and can’t track it down, it’s going to be a lot harder to find your vehicle. While it’s not impossible, the odds aren’t really in your favor either.
Use the license plate number
Do you remember the license plate number, or can you find it in any papers you had before with the license plate number? If you have the license plate number, you can get the VIN from it.
Without license plate
The best chance you have to find a car you previously owned without the VIN or license plate is to track down the person you sold it to and see if they still have it. If they don’t, try to find out who they sold it to and track them down. Continue this search until you find your vehicle.
Of course, at any point, all it takes is a single person to tell you they don’t know who they sold it to, and you’ve hit a dead end.
Facebook Groups or Advertisement
That’s where you can go really old school with it – with a new school twist. You can throw up flyers and advertisements, of course, but you might be better off hitting up Facebook groups and online forums.
This is especially effective if you had a unique car that car enthusiasts get excited about. It’s definitely a crapshoot, but it’s better than just writing it off.
Keep in mind that if you’re looking for a common vehicle like a stock Ford Explorer or a Volkswagen Jetta, the chances are pretty low that you’ll track it down. Even if you did, how would you know it’s yours?
If you’re attached to a car that you sold a while ago, you’re not alone. The good news is that if you have a little information on the vehicle and the dedication to find it, tracking down your old vehicle is far from impossible!
Just remember, too, that just because you found it doesn’t mean that the new owner will sell it to you, and even if they’re willing to, they might not sell it for a fair price.
Temper your expectations a bit and enjoy the journey because that’s half the fun!
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Founder, owner & main author of Mechanic Base. I have been repairing cars for more than 10 years, specialized in advanced diagnostics & troubleshooting. I have also been a drifting driver and mechanic for over 7 years.