Why Are There so Many Abandoned Cars in North Carolina?

Abandoned cars often have an air of mystery about them, as we wonder what leads owners to leave their vehicles by the side of the road. Did they break down, or were they in car accidents? The fact is that state and local laws can have a big impact on the number of abandoned cars that pile up in certain areas. North Carolina has become a recent example of this phenomenon, and it’s got some people talking about what can be done to solve the problem. 

Abandoned cars seem to be everywhere in North Carolina

Abandoned Dodge van and other cars found throughout the woods and downtown area in Asheville, North Carolina
Abandoned Dodge van in Asheville, North Carolina | George Rose/Getty Images

If you live in certain parts of North Carolina, you’ve likely seen a surprising number of abandoned cars by the side of the road. What can be especially surprising is when they continue to sit for what seems like an extended period of time. 

Charlotte is one example of a North Carolina city dealing with the hazards of abandoned vehicles on the roads. WCNC-Charlotte explains that part of the reason for a large number of abandoned cars is the variety of laws and enforcement practices regarding how long vehicles are allowed to remain after they’ve been abandoned.  There’s also the fact that the laws aren’t consistently enforced as strictly as some would like–often due to a lack of government resources to get the job done. 

Reports of abandoned cars in NC have seen an increase 

It’s not just Charlotte dealing with issues related to abandoned vehicles, however. All over the state, calls complaining about abandoned cars have been on the rise over the past several years, reaching thousands of complaints each year.  ABC 11 reports that North Carolina Highway Patrol received 3,269 complaints about abandoned vehicles in 2017. The following year, that number increased to 4,115.  

Abandoned cars that are blocking a lane or in the path of traffic are likely to be removed much more quickly than those that are discreetly off to the side of the road. This is because of the traffic hazard created by abandoned vehicles, which pose a danger to other drivers who may crash into them. 

How to claim ownership of an abandoned car in North Carolina

One way to deal with the large number of vehicles piling up across the state, of course, is for the cars to get sold. This approach has a two-fold positive effect: not only does it potentially save the purchaser money, but it also helps solve the problem of getting abandoned cars off the road–especially ones that have been ignored by the local government or highway patrol and left to linger. 

If a car has been abandoned on your North Carolina property, NCDOT lays out your options. First, local law enforcement will place a seven-day warning sticker on the car, showing that it will be towed if not removed. Should the vehicle not be removed, the property owner can call a tow company to have it removed or wait 30 days, when it will officially be considered abandoned, and then sell the vehicle themselves, as long as they go through the proper channels.

You can also attempt to purchase abandoned vehicles that you come across, provided that you remain careful with the legal process required by North Carolina’s DMV. PocketSense explains that to get the process started, you should obtain the vehicle’s VIN and license plate number so that local authorities can attempt to find the titleholder’s information and verify that the car is not stolen. From there, assuming everything is in order, you can try to contact the titleholder to see whether they would be interested in transferring the title to you.  

Abandoned cars can be both unsightly and dangerous, so the more citizens and local governments can do to remove them quickly, the better off the entire community will be. 

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