Trackmouse UltraDork
2/21/18 6:28 p.m.

 As I drive around daily for work, I always tend to see cars that are  abandon  on the side of the road and either have an orange or a green sticker in the window. They aren’t there for long, may be a day or two. Here’s two questions about that: how does one go about picking these up for yourself? And how would this translate in dollars for challenge budget? 

Rodan Reader
2/21/18 6:36 p.m.

Disclaimer:  may vary from state to state.

Abandoned vehicles that are tagged on the side of the road are generally towed on the orders of law enforcement pursuant to state statute.  Tow companies take them to a yard, and notify the registered owner via mail.  After a specified amount of time has passed with no response from the registered owner, the tow company may file for an abandoned title and once received, they can dispose of the car as they wish.  Storage fees accrue, so many times owners do not seek to recover the car, since there was a reason it was on the side of the road to begin with.  Often they sign the title over to the tow company.

So, if you're interested in picking up roadkill, you're best bet is probably to contact tow companies in your area and see if you can make a deal with them.

Trackmouse UltraDork
2/21/18 6:40 p.m.

Hmm... now to make friends with a tow company...

mad_machine MegaDork
2/21/18 7:38 p.m.

flash cash..

Trackmouse UltraDork
2/21/18 8:45 p.m.

In reply to mad_machine :

Ass, grass, or cash. I believe that is one of the rules of the road right? Jay and silent Bob said so. 

ebonyandivory UberDork
2/21/18 10:27 p.m.
Trackmouse said:

In reply to mad_machine :

Ass, grass, or cash. I believe that is one of the rules of the road right? Jay and silent Bob said so. 

Who must’ve seen it on a bumper sticker on a 1974 E150 van.

itsarebuild Dork
2/21/18 10:27 p.m.

You could put a note on the windshield indicating interest. This may work for the tow company OR the person risking the tow.

Boost_Crazy HalfDork
2/21/18 10:27 p.m.

That's how I got my Galant VR4. A friend saw it seemingly abandoned in a parking lot. I went to check it out, just in time to see it being towed. I checked with the tow company a bit later, and learned no one claimed it. It took some persistence, but they sold it to me after they liened it a couple months later. This was back in 2000 or so, and I got it for $750. It had a broken transmission, but was otherwise clean and bone stock. 

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
2/22/18 9:20 a.m.
Trackmouse said:

Hmm... now to make friends with a tow company...

A lot of the towing companies have regular auctions where they sell off the cars.

914Driver MegaDork
2/22/18 9:35 a.m.

What do the window stickers say?  Locally (I disagree with it) but local cops always call so & so towing because it's a cop's brother in law; they should share the wealth.

Professor_Brap Reader
2/22/18 10:24 a.m.

I have bought a few cars over the years from tow companies. Im talking right now with a local company about buying a early 2000s DB9

Curtis PowerDork
2/22/18 10:44 a.m.

Yeah, vehicle ownership is pretty ironclad.  It belongs to the registered owner until it doesn't.  Picking it up from the roadside would be no different than picking it up from a parking lot.  GTA.

Most states have some way of filing for a lien on abandoned cars.  I did several of them in TX when I ran auto repair shops.  People would sign off on doing $1500 worth of repairs, then their friend says "you're an idiot, the car is only worth $1000" and they would let it sit without paying the bill.  I think it was 30 days until I could file a lien.  Then I would put it out front with a sale sign... but I had to take legal action to call it "mine."

PA allows storage liens.  I did that once when I found an old 65 scout in a field on property that my buddy bought.  The guy had died and no records for the truck existed. (PA only keeps static records for about 10 years)  Normally I would have paid a $5 research fee to find the last three owners, then do the certified letter and an ad in the legal section of a newspaper, but since there were no records I filed a storage lien of $10/day for a year (knowing it had sat for 10 years or more with the size of the locust tree growing through the floorboards)

Normally what would happen at that point is the state would contact the owner of record and they had the option to pay $3650 to get it out off my property, but since there was no record I knew it wasn't going to give some poor chap in western PA a heart attack.  A couple weeks later I got a title in the mail in my name.

In order to file a storage lien though, you have to either own the property on which it was abandoned or be a designated recovery person ordered by some jurisdiction.  You can't just tow it to your house and wait 30 days and file a lien because the process of getting it to your house is considered theft unless some authority told you to do it.

Make friends with some tow companies.  Just call and ask.  Some states limit the funds they are allowed to charge in the amount of their losses (cost of the tow and a daily storage fee) so it is sometimes a good way to get a cheap car.  I remember in TX, after I filed a lien on a vehicle it belonged to the business free and clear.  We could sell it for market value.  95% of the time we could hope to break even on our costs.  The other 5% of the time we either lost money or made a little.

Stampie UltraDork
2/22/18 10:49 a.m.

In reply to Trackmouse :

I'm going to a tow auction tomorrow. You're welcome to join me just don't bid on what I bid on. 

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