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Why Not File For Abandoned Vehicle?

Ever found yourself curious about the challenges of obtaining a title for an abandoned vehicle? The process is far more intricate than a simple “Finders Keepers” scenario. In this blog post, we explore the complexities surrounding abandoned vehicles, shedding light on why filing for one may not be the straightforward solution you might think.

The Illusion of Abandoned Vehicle Claims

Many have pondered why it’s a daunting task to secure a title for an abandoned vehicle. Contrary to common belief, filing for an abandoned vehicle doesn’t mean you get to keep it. Abandoned vehicles are not subject to the “Finders Keepers” rule. In fact, filing for an abandoned vehicle often results in the state seizing it, followed by an auction process.

User’s Dilemma: A Warning of an Abandoned Vehicle Investigation

A user shared their predicament on one of our previous videos. Their truck, parked on a public residential street, had an active sticker until 2023. However, due to infrequent movement, a concerned citizen reported it as an abandoned vehicle. This initiated a process where the government placed a warning sticker, notified the owner, and, if unresolved, would lead to an auction.

Why Filing Triggers an Investigation

When an abandoned vehicle report is filed, the government intervenes by initiating an investigation. This investigative process is crucial before any action is taken concerning the vehicle. The goal is to ensure that no rightful owner, lien holder, relative, or co-owner has a claim on the vehicle. Until this exhaustive investigation is complete, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) refrains from issuing a title to a new claimant.

Abandoned Doesn’t Mean Unwanted: A Critical Distinction

What might seem like an abandoned vehicle to one person could be a seldom-used vehicle belonging to someone on vacation, in the military, or with other reasons for limited movement. Despite your awareness of the vehicle’s history, the DMV requires concrete evidence and a thorough investigation before considering a change of ownership.

The Auction Process: Why It Matters

In the event that an abandoned vehicle remains unclaimed after the investigation, the government proceeds with an auction. The funds generated from the auction cover towing and administrative fees, with any remaining amount held in case a previous owner or rightful claimant comes forward. If unclaimed, the surplus goes to the state.

Alternative Solutions: Court Order Title, Civil Lien, and More

Rather than opting for the term “abandoned vehicle,” individuals seeking ownership of a vehicle with a complex history can explore alternative methods. Options such as court order titles, civil liens, and bonded titles provide legal pathways to secure ownership without triggering a state seizure.

A Cautionary Note: Be Informed, Be Careful

The term “abandoned vehicle” should be approached with caution. Triggering a state investigation can result in unintended consequences, especially if the vehicle has a rightful owner who hasn’t been accounted for. Understanding the available alternatives, such as court order titles or civil liens, ensures a more controlled and legally sound process.

Choose Wisely, Own Responsibly

In the realm of obtaining vehicle titles, knowledge is power. Before embarking on the journey to claim ownership of a vehicle with a complex history, explore the diverse avenues available. Abandoned vehicles may not be the untamed territories where you can claim ownership at will. Choose the right method, navigate the process wisely, and own responsibly. For detailed instructions on alternative title acquisition methods, visit our website at

Have Title Questions? Talk to a Car Title Expert.

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Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. If it’s your car, you deserve a title.

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