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Fines, Fees, and Frustration: Selling Your Unwanted Vehicle Before It's Too Late

Did you know that unwanted or abandoned vehicles attract fines in Philadelphia? Find out why and how to sell your scrap car for cash in Philadelphia to prevent fines.
Owolabi Oluwasegun
Owolabi Oluwasegun
03/14/2022 · 5 min read
Pay fine vector illustration. Punishment document for abandoning cars, violating tax or parking laws. Pay fine vector illustration. Punishment document for abandoning cars, violating tax or parking laws. Pay fine vector illustration. Punishment document for abandoning cars, violating tax or parking laws.

Parking can be tricky in Philadelphia, and the growing number of abandoned vehicles has worsened the situation. Philly 311, Philadelphia’s customer service center for non-emergency inquiries, reported abandoned vehicle removal as one of the most frequently submitted service requests. Adding to the menace, the service center recorded 4,198 abandoned vehicle inquiries in March 2021 alone. This problem didn’t start overnight as Mayor John Street, in the year 2000, set a 40-day ultimatum for himself to clear 40,000 abandoned cars from Philadelphia streets.

Although the abandoned car program didn’t clear up 40,000 vehicles from the streets of Philadelphia, it achieved a record of clearing close to 35,000 abandoned cars. During his time in office, Philadelphia increased fines for abandoned vehicles from $100 to $300 to discourage vehicle abandonment.

Almost 22 years after the abandoned car program by Mayor John Street, the Philadelphia Police Department still has a Neighborhood Service Unit (NSU) that investigates reported vehicle abandonment cases and removes them.

Old and new model cars abandoned by the roadside

What is an Abandoned Vehicle?

Philadelphia is pretty clear about what it considers an abandoned vehicle. According to 75 Pa.C.S. § 102, a vehicle is considered abandoned when;

It is undriveable or physically inoperable

This includes vehicles with missing parts, flat tires, or other damages that prevent them from moving. The vehicle must also have been left unattended on a highway or other public property for 48 hours or more.

It is dangerous

This includes vehicles damaged in an accident. Dangerous vehicles often have broken glasses, jagged edges, are leaking fluid, or have other characteristics that make it a safety risk.

Expired inspection and registration

This includes unattended vehicles on the highway or other public properties with no valid registration plate, vehicle identification number, and current inspection certificate.

Abandoned on private property

This includes vehicles that have been left on private property for more than 24 hours without the property owner’s consent.

Can I Abandon My Vehicle on Private Property?

Philadelphia regards vehicle abandonment on private property accessible to the public as an offense. Residents or users of the private property can report such abandonment cases after 24 hours of vehicle abandonment. Residents may also report vehicles abandoned on some rear driveways, provided the driveway forms part of the common drive.

Once an abandoned vehicle has been reported, an investigating officer will be dispatched to the scene to determine whether it’s on private property or not. The property owner will also be required to sign a written consent before the abandoned vehicle is towed away.

woman holding a smartphone

How to Report an Abandoned Vehicle in Philadelphia

Reporting an abandoned vehicle in Philadelphia is easy. Residents can call 311 within Philadelphia or 215 686 8686 from outside of Philadelphia to report vehicle abandonment cases. Abandoned vehicles can also be reported via Philadelphia’s mobile app, email, or web portal. Each abandoned vehicle report should carry detailed information, including;

  • The exact address where the abandoned vehicle is located
  • License plate state and number
  • The abandoned vehicle’s color
  • Make and Model of the abandoned vehicle (e.g., Hyundai Elantra)
  • Abandoned vehicle’s body style (e.g., 2/4 door sedan)
  • Description of the vehicle’s condition
  • A photo of the vehicle

Fees and Fines Associated With Reclaiming Towed Abandoned Vehicles

The State Abandoned Vehicle Unit will contact abandoned vehicle owners before or after completing the towing process. Vehicle removal is expedited for vehicles that constitute a safety risk to the community. The unit will mail copies of the Abandoned Vehicle form to the owner, lien holders, and salvor with a 30-day window for reclaiming vehicles.

Abandoned vehicle owners who fail to claim their vehicles will be deemed to have consented to the vehicle’s destruction, sale, or other dispositions. Owners of towed abandoned vehicles who wish to reclaim their vehicle must pay the costs for towing and storage from the date the salvor submitted an abandoned vehicle report. Additionally, owners or lienholders will pay a $50 fee.

A board with what, who, why, when, where written on it

Frequently Asked Questions About Abandoned Cars in Philadelphia

Can I report abandoned box trucks or trailers?

Yes. Philadelphia residents are encouraged to report all kinds of abandoned vehicles, whether a junk car, van, trailer, rental truck, or box truck.

What happens after reporting an abandoned vehicle in Philadelphia?

An officer from the Neighborhood Service Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department will be dispatched to the scene to investigate vehicle abandonment. Vehicles that pose safety risks will be towed immediately.

How long will it take to remove an abandoned vehicle in Philadelphia?

Up to 60 business days or longer. Abandoned vehicles that aren’t a safety risk may be removed in 60 business days or longer, depending on the risks associated. Residents are encouraged to re-contact Philly311 if their abandoned vehicle removal request has been open for more than 60 business days.

Preventing Vehicle Abandonment by Selling for Cash

Vehicle abandonment in Philadelphia is a growing concern for many residents. Selling your old, damaged, or unwanted cars for cash can save you from the fines and fees associated with abandoned vehicles. If you are unsure about who buys junk car in Philadelphia, we can help.

At, we buy junk cars near me in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. We answer your “cash for junk cars near me” search, offer free online quotes, and complete the process in 24 hours or less with free towing included. Save yourself from the hassles of reclaiming your abandoned vehicle when you sell to the places that buy junk cars for top dollar near me.

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