Failing to collect your vehicle

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When vehicles are ‘uncollected goods’

A business must follow certain rules before disposing of a vehicle that you left temporarily with them but did not pick up – for example, after towing, repairs or maintenance.

The vehicle, any automotive parts and anything you left in it may be treated as ‘uncollected goods’ if you:

  • did not return to claim them
  • did not tell the business what to do with them
  • cannot be contacted, or
  • have not paid a charge you should have paid to the business for keeping or doing anything to the goods – see Paying the relevant charge below.

A vehicle or goods are not considered ‘uncollected’ if the business:

  • refuses to return or deliver them, or
  • prevents you from collecting them.

Before a business disposes of an uncollected vehicle or other items

The business must tell the person who left the vehicle, part or other belongings with them, in writing, that it intends to dispose of these items if they are not collected. It must then keep the vehicle or items for 28 days.

If the business cannot contact the person who left it with them, before taking steps to dispose of the vehicle, they must wait a further:

  • 60 days for a low-value vehicle (worth less than $1000)
  • 180 days for a high-value vehicle (worth $1000 or more).

There are different requirements for high, low and medium-value goods such as engine parts or personal belongings, as well as perishable items. For more information, view our Uncollected goods and vehicles page.

Stop a business disposing of your vehicle or goods

You can prevent disposal of your vehicle or other goods by:

  • paying the relevant charge and collecting it - see Paying the relevant charge below
  • making arrangements for its delivery
  • applying to a court or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to resolve a dispute with the business holding it.

Paying the relevant charge

The business can ask you or anyone else who comes to collect the vehicle or other goods to pay the ‘relevant charge’ before collecting or taking delivery.

Unless a court says differently, the relevant charge is the total amount owed for:

  • repairs, cleaning, treatment or other work the business did on the vehicle, or for transporting or storing it. If you do not have an agreement with the business about this amount, it must be reasonable
  • storing, maintaining or insuring the vehicle until disposal, from the date the business gave written notice of the intention to dispose of it or applied for a court order to dispose of it.

If the proceeds of sale do not cover the relevant charge, the business can sue the person who left the goods with them for the difference.

The business must treat any money left over after selling the goods or vehicle, and paying the relevant charge and disposal costs (if any), as ‘unclaimed money’ under the Unclaimed Money Act 2008. Information on unclaimed money is available from the State Revenue Office.

How the business can dispose of your uncollected vehicle

If the uncollected vehicle is worth:

  • less than $1000, the business can sell, destroy or keep it for its own use
  • $1000 or more, the business can only dispose of it by public auction or private sale. They cannot keep it for their own use.

The public auction must be advertised at least seven days in advance or held over at least a seven day period - for example, an online auction.

If the business has already disposed of the vehicle but did not have a court order to do so, you are entitled to see records about the disposal if you:

  • are the owner
  • are the person who left the vehicle with them
  • have a proprietary or security interest in the vehicle.