How can I find my old car?

December 20, 2023 by

You might have owned a succession of cars in your lifetime, but sometimes there’s one that has extra resonance, a car that tugs at the heartstrings or evokes a happy memory. And sometimes that automotive nostalgia might prompt you to wonder if that car is still on the road – and if it is, perhaps you could buy it back?

How to find it, though? Luckily, there are ways to hunt down your car crush – unless it’s already been crushed.

Let Carwow explain what tools, services and methods are available to help you find that special vehicle.

Oh, and if you want to sell your current car to help fund that special car, you can do this on Carwow. See how thousands of dealers could be bidding to buy your car. It’s free to use and simple to do.

Ask the DVLA for information

Your first port of call should be the DVLA.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), part of the Department for Transport, is the government agency responsible for maintaining databases of all licenced drivers and vehicles in the UK. It issues driving licences, collects vehicle excise duty (car tax), deals with vehicle registrations and changes of ownership – and also handles the sale of personalised registrations.

To find your car, you can fill out a V888 form, which is a Request by an Individual for Information About a Vehicle. This form can give you access to information about a vehicle previously registered to you or the registered keeper of a vehicle that is registered to someone else.

You can download a V888 from the gov.uk website. Alternatively, you can request the form by phone or visit a local DVLA office.

As the DVLA holds important private data, which it has a duty under the Data Protection Act 1998 to protect, it makes careful checks before releasing information. That means if you want to request information about the keeper of a vehicle registered to someone else, you must show ‘reasonable cause’ for wanting this information and how it will be used.

The DVLA will require proof of your address with your application. If you do not provide a copy of one of the documents from the list set out on the V888 – gas, electricity, water or landline phone bill, or a bank or building society statement, issued in the last three months – the DVLA will just return it to you.

When filling in a V888, you first need to choose option A or B (you can’t choose both). If you’re looking for a previous car, you should choose Option B, which enables you to obtain information about a vehicle that was previously registered in your name. You have to pay £5 for this service.

The DVLA says that it aims to answer a V888 request within four weeks of receiving it.

Check if the car is still on the road

An even quicker and easier way to check if your car is still on the road is to run a quick MOT history check with carwow’s online tool.

In just a few clicks – and for free – the MOT history checker can tell you if the car has a valid MOT and access the car’s full MOT history.

Go further with six tips for finding your old car

If you don’t manage to turn anything up from these two searches, or you want to know more, there are other routes you can take.

1. Online archives

A good source of information is the free-to-use DriveArchive (drivearchive.co.uk), a database of vehicle details and photographs voluntarily uploaded by vehicle owners (so there are no significant privacy issues).

2. Owners’ clubs

If the car you’re looking for is a classic, or has a cult status, owner’s clubs are a good source of information. There’s a chance that someone in the club might know of your car if it’s still running, or know someone who knows. You could even be put in contact with the current owner if you’re lucky.

And if your car was something really rare and valuable, your chances of discovering its current whereabouts are improved: such vehicles are often preserved and recorded in a register.

3. Social media

There are plenty of car enthusiasts on social media channels, so it could also prove a useful source of information. If you have original photos of the car you want to find, start sharing them, and any details about the car, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

4. Ask the dealer

If your car was traded into a garage or dealership fairly recently, you could try getting in touch with them asking to be put in touch with the current owner. This would be entirely on a voluntary basis, in part because of data privacy laws, but if you have a compelling reason to track the car down (that lost treasure map…) then they might help.

5. Create a wanted ad

Another good tactic is to place an advert where others are looking to buy a car like the one you’re looking for. Try online selling sites, owners club forums, any specialist publications or magazines – you could even consider placing a printed advert. You might just get lucky and strike gold, or get a tip-off from another potential purchaser who perhaps turned your old car down. Remember: nobody will know you’re searching if you don’t tell anyone

6. Search the vehicle reg number online

Search engines are marvellous things, so you could always just type the registration number and see what comes back. You never know what you could find – perhaps even a new owner posting photos of themselves out with ‘your’ car.

Looking for an easy way to change your car? Then Carwow is the place to go. You can sell your old car for a great price, and get the best deals on a new one. All through our network of trusted dealers and all from the comfort of your home. Tap the button below to get started today.