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Know about How to Get a Title for an Abandoned Vehicle!

  • Cars Explained
  • Gerard Stevens
  • 8 minutes

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Has someone abandoned a vehicle on your property? Or have you come across one languishing someplace? Do you want to keep the abandoned vehicle you discovered? Have you misplaced the keys to your vehicle or a family member’s car? Obtaining an abandoned vehicle title if you didn’t initially own the vehicle is possible but more challenging than you might imagine. 

On certain properties, cars left or abandoned may be eligible for title processing through a mechanic’s lien process. For example, suppose there’s an abandoned car on your property. In that case, you can title it through a specific process if you are a property owner or licensed automotive facility. Remember that each state has laws governing when and how a car qualifies as abandoned, so confirm with your state’s DMV before claiming an abandoned vehicle. 

What is an abandoned vehicle? Continue reading to know more on how to get a title for an abandoned vehicle!

What is an abandoned vehicle? 

An abandoned vehicle is a vehicle that was left on someone’s property without any notice. The minimum time before a car gets considered abandoned varies from a few hours to 30 days, depending on the state. Whether the car was left behind on public land, private property, or a road determines how long it stayed there. The property owner can then acquire legal vehicle ownership in some states but not others. 

There are four ways by which cars get abandoned.  

By Inheritance: You inherit a property with a car on it.  

Real estate sales: The sale of a property involves a vehicle. 

Abandonment: Leaving a vehicle at a store or on private property. 

Abandoning publicly: A car gets abandoned in a public area, such as the shoulder of a road.  

Keep reading in detail about how to get a title for an abandoned vehicle! 

how to get a title for an abandoned vehicle

What to do when you find an abandoned vehicle? 

If you find an abandoned vehicle, don’t think about getting an abandoned vehicle title first. If you happen to encounter an abandoned vehicle, wait to take action until you are aware of the laws in your state regarding abandoned vehicles. Also, remember that a stolen car is frequently left abandoned, so use extra caution when approaching one. 

Tampering with a car is illegal under most circumstances. Always take the necessary procedures to ensure the vehicle is an abandoned one in your state before trying to title it.  

  • Only law enforcement officials can collect an abandoned vehicle in a few states. 
  • Some states only allow towing companies to move the vehicle. 
  • You can’t initiate the search for the vehicle’s owner in some states.  

How to get a title for an abandoned vehicle 

Getting an abandoned vehicle title depends on the state where you live. The procedure is different if you discover an abandoned car on your land or elsewhere.  

How to get a title for an abandoned vehicle if that’s not on your property 

Before you can try to claim an abandoned car that you locate but is not on your property, a few things need to happen. First, the local officials will tow the car. Then, they will put the car for auction if it remains unclaimed for a specific period (again, this varies by state) and is determined to be worth less than a set fee. Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to bid on the car when it makes it to the auction. The vehicle and title will be yours if you are the highest bidder. 

Ways to do it 

You may start by inquiring about the abandoned car with the neighbors. They probably own it or are acquainted with someone who does. If that doesn’t work, try looking up the property owner’s name in public records, then compare that data to a nearby phone book or mail to that location. You may be able to track the current owner in your state by doing a VIN check. Never presume that using a person’s VIN to locate them in your state is acceptable. 

It is the best way to claim an abandoned car title. But, whatever you do, ensure you don’t steal the abandoned car! 

How to get a title for an abandoned vehicle that’s on your property 

Even if the vehicle is on your property and you are interested in buying it, local authorities may decide to auction it off. It depends on your state, especially if the vehicle has some monetary value. Therefore, when you find an abandoned car on your property, you should contact the concerned authorities before attempting to obtain the car’s title. 

Again, suppose you discovered the vehicle on your land. In that case, you can avoid the auction and purchase it directly from the owner (and if you can locate the owner). In that case, the vehicle’s legal owner must consent to give you the title.  

However, before taking action, be aware of the laws concerning claiming abandoned vehicles in your state. 

Ways to do it 

  • Request information from the local authorities on the previous owner. 
  • Inform the owner about the abandoned car at least once. 
  • Submit the necessary documents to the state to establish ownership. 

Things you must do before titling an abandoned vehicle 

So, found an abandoned vehicle? Before knowing how to get a title for an abandoned vehicle, you need to do the following things.  

Examine the vehicle 

Before attempting to claim the title of an abandoned vehicle, it is always a good idea to have a mechanic look it over. Always remember that abandoned vehicles are frequently left there for a reason. If it has significant damage or has missing parts, it would be better to leave the car and get in touch with the state to have the automobile towed and demolished.  

Try to contact the owner 

It’s unlikely that the owner of an abandoned car will wait around for someone to take it back. You must therefore make an effort to locate and get in touch with the owner if you are serious about claiming a title for it.  

Find out the VIN 

You’ll need to find the vehicle identification number (VIN) to locate the owner. You can usually trace the VIN on the dashboard’s lower-left side, in front of the steering wheel. You can also trace the VIN on the front of the car’s engine block if it isn’t there or has been scratched off. Then, check inside by opening the hood. 

You may even find the VIN near windshield washer fluid on the front of the car’s frame or inside the driver’s door, next to the door post or jamb. 

Give a visit to the DMV 

Once you find the VIN, go and visit your local DMV. The kind people there will attempt to locate the owner using the VIN. In most states, on tracking the car’s owner, the state will send them a mail informing them that you are looking for the car’s title. They will also alert the local sheriff in the country where they found the abandoned vehicle and publish notices in the area for some weeks. The notice will describe the car and the fees the owner must pay. 

What do you should while legally buying the car from the owner? 

Some states permit you to try and purchase the vehicle from the owner if the authorities decide not to auction it off. But, again, you’ll need to confirm if your state permits this. If the owner agrees to let you buy the car from them, you must prepare a bill that says the following: 

  • The date 
  • Your legal name 
  • The brand, model, year, and VIN of the car 
  • Agreed upon purchase price 
  • The signature of the original owner 

Depending on the state, you might need a Sales Tax Exemption Certificate Transfer Affidavit if the owner merely agrees to transfer the title to you. Ask your nearby DMV if you’re unsure. 

Read our guide on how to remove a name from a car title!

Things to note 

  • Based on your state, you’ll need to double-check with your local DMV to see what forms you need to complete. It can require submitting preliminary papers outlining the car and the location where you found it. In addition, the transaction might call for notification of sale. Finally, remember to ask about any fees related to the paperwork. 
  • Be prepared to face possible complications while trying to get an abandoned vehicle title. 
  • Even if the original owner misplaced the title, they can still request a replacement at the DMV. In addition, you can ask the owner to grant you power of attorney over the vehicle if they don’t want to spend the time asking for a duplicate title.  
  • You could file a suit in small claims court to get control of the title if the owner refuses to provide it, only if the car was located on your property. 

What should you do if you can’t locate the owner? 

It is an important question regarding how to get a title for an abandoned vehicle. If you can’t find the owner, consult a legal professional about obtaining a silent title. If your lawyer finds it feasible, it will enable you to seek a favorable judgment and legally award the recently abandoned car to you. 

Find an affordable auto insurance while titling your abandoned vehicle


Here’s more info on top-rated airport parking, the best parking spots in your city, affordable auto insurance, easy auto refinance, and high-quality car washes near you.


 

 

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