There are many reasons why one might need to identify and locate a car owner. Maybe you were the witness or the victim of a car accident. Maybe it's the car you recently sold and you need to find the new owner, or you saw a car go by and thought the driver was a friend you haven't seen for a long time. How can you locate the owner in any of these cases? If you are a bit creative, there are many ways they can help you.
Method 1 of 5: Notify Authorities to Find the Car Owner of an Accident
Step 1. Call the police
In particular, if you were the witness of any type of accident, illegal behavior or your car was the victim of a traffic accident, you should not try to locate the other driver on your own. The best option is to notify the police with whatever information you can give them. If possible, you should give them the following:
- The make and model of the car.
- The vehicle's chassis number (Vehicle Identification Number or VIN). If you get a chance to get close enough, you can find the VIN on most cars by looking through the windshield in the lower corner of the dashboard on the driver's side.
- The license plate of the car.
- Any different features like unusual accessories, paint, or car damage.
Step 2. Check with the insurer
Your insurer has resources available that you may not have. If you are filing a lawsuit or are even just looking into the possibility of a future lawsuit, the insurer can identify the owner of the car.
Step 3. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), if you live in the United States or the company in charge in your country
If you can give the Department of Motor Vehicles the license plate or VIN of the car, they can use that information to identify the owner. They may not be allowed to give you that information, but it will depend on what you need it for, since they can give it to an appropriate person (for example, your insurer).
Method 2 of 5: Use Online Resources to Help You Locate a Previous Car Owner
Step 1. Find the VIN of the car
If you get a chance to get close enough, you can find the VIN on most cars by looking through the windshield in the lower corner of the dashboard on the driver's side.
Step 2. Search the internet for companies that identify the owner
There are many resources online that perform VIN reference checks. Most of these resources, particularly those that offer free search engines, help used car buyers to check the car's history or make sure it hasn't been stolen. However, if you are willing to pay for the service, you may find some search engines online that give you personally identifiable information such as name, address, and phone number.
Step 3. Be cautious with the information you find out
For privacy reasons, many online site search engines cannot give you all the information you might want to find out. Most VIN search engines, especially the free ones, will tell you if the car has a stolen or damaged notification in its history, but they won't give you the names or all the contact information. For an additional fee, you can receive the names of the previous owners, but you should still be careful with the information. These search engines are the precise information that is recorded in the public databases, but generally, the search engines that claim that they can give you all the personal information about the previous owners are of low prestige. In fact, online site search companies advise "in fine print" that you should "independently verify" any information you find.
Method 3 of 5: Use Available Documents to Find the Seller or Buyer of the Car
Step 1. Review the documents
If you are the current owner and want to find the person who sold you the car, or if you recently sold the car and want to find the new owner, you should have some documents that will help you. As part of the process of selling a car, the title must have information that identifies both the seller and the buyer. If you have a copy of this document (you must have it!), You can identify the information you need very easily.
Step 2. Review the sales contract
Another document that should be part of the process for the sale of a car is the contract of sale. In some states, the contract of sale is optional and in others it is mandatory. This document identifies both the owner and the seller. Generally, the contract of sale is not entered in the registry. It is simply one of the documents that you may have if you were one of the parties to the contract, it also helps you locate the name of the buyer.
Step 3. Use any available accident or insurance statement
If you were the owner of a car and you are looking for the current owner, you can look for the old documents of any insurance or accident claims that you may have filed. Hopefully, these documents probably contain the VIN of the car, and you can look it up online.
Contact your insurer to help you find any insurance-related documents. If you don't have these documents, the registration system may have information that can help you
Method 4 of 5: Search car clubs to find the owner of a particular type of car
Step 1. Identify the type of car
Imagine you see a really amazing car, be it a Camaro, Mustang, or some other collectible car. Take note of all the descriptive information you can find out.
Step 2. Find car clubs online
With a simple search on the internet like "Names of motor clubs", you can find the lists of clubs dedicated to car lovers.
Step 3. Narrow your search to the style or year of the car
If you have this additional information, you have a better chance of finding that particular car and its owner.
Step 4. Look for landlords in your area
Some online car club sites list the owners and include their contact information. Hopefully, you will find the person you are looking for.
Method 5 of 5: Advertise to Contact and Find the Car Owner
Step 1. Place an ad in the newspaper to find a person in your area
This is not the most effective way to contact a person, but if you really want to find them and you think they may be from your area, you could place an ad in the local newspaper. Describe the type of car, the reason you want to find that person, and a safe way to contact you.
Step 2. Place a classified ad in a car magazine
If you are looking for a car owner that is likely collectible or antique, you may want to give this option a try. There are many magazines dedicated to car lovers and they are likely to have a wider circulation than a local newspaper. Place a classified ad with a description of the car and owner you hope to locate and include a secure way to contact you.
Be careful not to post a lot of personal information. If you want to have a meeting with the person contacted, do it in a public place where you feel safe
Step 3. Post it on social media
The internet reaches the whole world. Use sites like Facebook, CraigsList or similar resources to make your search really powerful. Again, be careful not to post a lot of personal information and organize meetings in safe places.