How to File for an Abandoned Vehicle Title

by Gwen Wark

An abandoned vehicle is a car, boat, motorcycle, or any other means of motorized transport that has been left on another's property for a specified period of time. The laws on abandoned vehicles vary from state to state, but there are some common steps necessary to claim the title on an abandoned vehicle.

Determine the abandoned vehicle laws in your state. This can be done by calling your state Division of Motor Vehicles. In some localities it is prohibited for a private citizen to claim an abandoned vehicle.

Notify of the owner and any interested parties, such as lienholders, banks, insurance companies and local law enforcement. You can locate the vehicle's last owner by contacting the local Division of Motor Vehicles with the Vehicle Identification Number.

Have the owner of the abandoned vehicle sign the title over to you. If you are able to locate the previous owner and they still hold the title or are eligible to do so, you can have them transfer ownership to you. The process for this varies from state to state.

Contact an attorney if you cannot locate the previous owner. An attorney can advise you if there is the opportunity to file a court action to grant you title to the vehicle.

Take action against the previous owner in small claims court. If you have located the previous owner and he will not grant you the title to the vehicle, you may need to file action against the owner to recover storage fees. The judgment laws vary from state to state and can result in either the vehicle title being awarded or monetary compensation.

Tip

  • check In most states, the decision to classify a vehicle as abandoned is not open to a private citizen. It must be done by a law enforcement or other designated official. You will need to contact your local law enforcement agency to determine who does this.

About the Author

Gwen Wark is a freelance writer working from London, Dublin, and New York. She has been a published writer since 1998 with works appearing in both university and local publications. Her current writing projects include SEO, web copy, print and advertising features. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in history from Rutgers University.