How to Find Out if Your Car Was Impounded

If you're not sure how to find out if your car was impounded, you should start by checking with the police station and any local impound databases. If you figure out how to find out if your car was impounded and it was, you'll likely have to pay over $250 to get it released back to you. If you've tried all the methods that describe how to find out if your car was impounded and still have no luck, you may need to come to terms that it may have been stolen.

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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

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Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
Licensed Agent Cynthia Lanctot

UPDATED: Jan 31, 2022

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A Concise Overview

  • If you can’t find your car, contact the police or local impound lots
  • You can also use online impound databases available through local systems
  • If you’ve looked at impound lots and contacted the police, but still can’t find your vehicle, it may have been stolen

If you’re unsure how to find out if your car was impounded, you can start with a quick phone call to the police. If your vehicle has been moved due to any violations, the officer will give you answers. If impounded, you will likely have to pay a release charge and the tow truck fees. If you still can’t find your vehicle after contacting the proper authorities, it may have been stolen.

While you’re learning how to find out if your car was impounded, enter your ZIP code to see what you could pay for a new policy.

How do I know if my car was impounded?

If you suddenly walk outside and find your car isn’t where you left it, it’s bound to set off some alarm bells in your head. The important part is that you don’t panic and make sure that you’ve looked in the nearby area just in case you somehow managed to misplace it.

If you feel that you’ve looked everywhere for your car and there isn’t a sign of it, something terrible may have happened. Whether this is a stolen vehicle or it has been impounded for some other reason, you’ll need to act swiftly to make sure that you can locate your car and get back to driving.

Some of the options to find out if your car was impounded include:

  • Contacting the police
  • Searching the local impound database
  • Asking your neighbors if they saw anything

You should be aware that if your vehicle is impounded, it likely means you’ll have some requirements to meet before you can get your car back. This can include towing fees and other costs, as well as proving you have a valid driver’s license for the vehicle you were driving.

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Can I find towed vehicles by VIN?

If you can’t find your vehicle and worry it might’ve been impounded, there are quick ways to check on its status. If you can locate your local impound database, you’ll be able to search for your vehicle using the VIN. It’s always important to try and remember your VIN or at least have it written down, so you can quickly access it when looking for your vehicle.

Another option when you’re in the impound database would be to look up your vehicle by its license plate number. Since this is a shorter number, it should be easier to remember when searching the database.

Can I get items out of an impounded vehicle?

Finding out that your car has been impounded is a stressful situation that requires a level head and planning. To get your car out, you’re going to need to meet some requirements that might not be readily available to you. In that case, you should find where your vehicle is being held and remove all your personal belongings.

If you are classified as low-income, some state laws make it clear that you are entitled to your personal property from the vehicle. This can include everything from keys to electronic devices that aren’t part of the vehicle. The impound lot will usually give you a deadline to retrieve your items, after which you won’t be able to go.

Some important things to grab from your car include:

  • Insurance documents
  • Photos and other cherished items
  • Electronic devices that aren’t part of the vehicle

You may not have to be the one to go and get the items, either. For example, some impound lots will let someone else get property from the vehicle as long as they can provide a notarized letter from the owner that says it’s okay.

How can I find out who impounded my car?

There are various reasons that your car might be towed, from lapsing on your car payment to being parked illegally. With the multiple reasons your car might’ve been impounded, you’ll likely want to find out the reason you can no longer drive.

Some of the reasons that your car might be impounded include:

  • Parked illegally or outside of regular hours
  • Blocking the road during snow emergencies
  • Unpaid parking and speeding tickets
  • If your car breaks down and you leave it
  • You lapse on paying your car payment

To find out who towed your car, you’ll need to understand the reason that someone took it in the first place. For example, if you left your car sitting too long, parked it in the wrong area, or have too many unpaid tickets, the police or other regulatory body likely decided to move your vehicle.

If you’ve lapsed on your car payment, then the tow likely came at the request of your car dealer, who will repossess it to make back what it has lost on your loan. Depending on the reason for the impound, you may be designated as a high-risk auto insurance driver.

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Wondering how to find out if your car was impounded by the police?

If you think the police impounded your car, you can call a local precinct and have them run a check on your vehicle. If the police had anything to do with the towing or impounding of your car, it would show up in their database. The officer will be happy to give you more information and the following steps to get your vehicle back.

As previously mentioned, the police will tow your car when they find that you’ve made some violation. This can include everything from unpaid parking tickets to blocking the road during inclement weather emergencies. While it can be stressful, at least contacting the police will help answer why your vehicle was totaled.

Curious how to find out if your car was towed or stolen?

There is a pretty clear distinction between when your car is towed and when it’s stolen. The critical difference is that if your vehicle is towed, there will be paperwork that you can follow. If your car was stolen, there isn’t a great chance of finding an IOU at the scene. Another option would be to use the APD impounded vehicle locator.

The first step to take when you think something has happened to your vehicle is to contact the police. Not only will they be able to tell you if your car was impounded, but you can begin to file a police report about your stolen car.

What happens if my car was impounded, but I wasn’t the driver?

If the car is in your name and someone else is driving when it gets impounded, you’ll still be responsible for the costs of getting it out. However, according to the lawyer directory Avvo, you may be able to file a claim or ask for reimbursement from the person who got your car towed. Even still, it will initially come out of your pocket to get your vehicle back.

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What is required to recover an impounded vehicle?

To get your car out of an impound lot, you’ll need to ensure that you’re prepared with the proper paperwork and the financial ability to pay the fees. You should make sure you have documentation that shows you own the car, like:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Driver’s license
  • Registration

Using this information, you can prove that you own your vehicle. You should also be prepared to pay to get your car out of the impound lot for around $250. This price is before any flatbed or towing fees as well.

How to Find Out if Your Car Was Impounded: The Bottom Line

When you understand how to find out if your car was impounded, you’ve probably got a lot of things running through your mind. Luckily, you can find your impounded vehicle with a bit of research and a phone call or two. If you’ve contacted the police and local impound lots without finding your car, it might have been stolen.

Now that you know how to find out if your car was impounded, enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool to see what you could pay for a policy today.

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