What's causing this sudden rash of abandoned cars?
October 4, 2011 9:05 PM   Subscribe

What's causing this sudden rash of abandoned cars in my town?

I live in northern California. During the last week of September, I saw at least one abandoned car by the side of the road each day, sometimes one each trip (this was along my normal commuting routes between home, school, and work). Only one clearly had a tire issue, and only one had its blinkers on. All were gone later that day or by the next.

Since about the first of the month, there have been fewer, though I still see another one every other day or so. Some are along the interstate, some along a smaller freeway.

Were that many people running out of gas? Breaking down? Getting pulled over and having to leave the car temporarily? Of course there's probably no way to know for sure, but what are some logical conclusions, and how best to check these hypotheses? Would the Highway Patrol be able to tell me?
posted by attercoppe to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
I can't answer your question, but others took a swing at it here.
posted by Marky at 9:07 PM on October 4, 2011

Has there been a DUI blitz in that area?
posted by dg at 10:21 PM on October 4, 2011

Over the weekend I traveled from SE GA to Charlotte, NC. I counted 14 abandoned vehicles during the 5 hour drive. I know this does not help answer your question, but YES! I have noticed this as well. Strange.
posted by TangerineGurl at 11:29 PM on October 4, 2011

DUI emphasis patrol. Can't drivve home.
posted by cliffster99 at 12:28 AM on October 5, 2011

More people are running out of gas. Welcome to the Great Recession.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 4:16 AM on October 5, 2011

Maybe your local police have started using 'bait cars?'
posted by Wylla at 4:57 AM on October 5, 2011

I'd say either deferred maintenance (increasing because of financial pressures) or some kind of bait cars.
posted by mrs. taters at 5:44 AM on October 5, 2011

Seconding the running out of gas theory - and sometimes it is not because of the recession but because someone stole a car and drove it until it ran out of gas.
posted by simongsmith at 8:50 AM on October 5, 2011

Is there an autobody shop nearby? Sometimes they'll park all of their jobs nearby, especially if it's a small garage or shop.
posted by mokeydraws at 9:08 AM on October 5, 2011

I also live in Northern CA, and there have been two cars abandoned on my street in the past six months. It took the police five months to tow the one, though they ticketed it within weeks. They told me when I reported it that it would take a while because they were short-handed. I thought that meant weeks, not months. The owner of the other vehicle (it was a motor home) finally came and moved his.

I only have theories. The car that was abandoned was in bad shape. My guess is that the owner didn't want to renew the registration and insurance, mess with a non-op registration, probably had nowhere to park it, and wouldn't have been able to sell it for an amount that made it worth the trouble. They also must not have been NPR listeners, because if they were they'd know that you can easily donate a car, hassle-free. So, it was probably just easier to park it on a street where the houses are faded and the lawns are perfectly mowed and walk away.

The RV owner didn't want to pay storage fees, and chose my street for the same reasons listed above. (He fessed up to a neighbor.)
posted by mudpuppie at 10:51 AM on October 5, 2011

*Aren't* perfectly mowed.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:52 AM on October 5, 2011

It has been hotter than usual in my part of North CA; possibly these are cars that have overheated due to the additional strain of air conditioning.
posted by lekvar at 11:12 AM on October 5, 2011

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