• July 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm #64315

    We have two abandoned vehicles.  The first has been here since March 7, 2013, the second since June 4, 2013.

    First one is definitely abandoned.  I want to know what the proper procedure for handling that.  
    The second customer was informed of the diag., and the diag fee.  Prior to giving that info, customer was readily answering the phone.  Since the diag. fee was discussed, customer only answered the phone one more time.  She was informed that storage fees would begin to accrue unless she came to retrieve the vehicle or start repairs.  She said she would come pick up the next day.  Has not called since, and won’t return our calls.  What do I do?
    July 18, 2013 at 5:51 am #73176
    Tom Ham

    The procedures on this vary greatly from state to state. Generally you fill out some forms, wait for a certain period of time, and so on. To find out exactly how it works in your area, try contacting the following to get the information or point you towards it.

    The towing service you use.
    The collision shop you use.
    Your local trade association.

    Tom - Shop Owner since 1978

    July 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm #73181

    I went to my state DMV/DOT websites and found the appropriate forms to declare an abandoned vehicle and a permission to sell for Mechanics lien.  It costs me $10 in fees and about 10 hours of my life to handle the paperwork, filing, follow up and misc BS.  Then we are listed as primary lien, and I have right to sell the vehicle…

    Not exactly easy without a title, but better than not having any recourse at all.  Got a Nissan Pathfinder that the customer told me to go ahead, paid some money down but owes me more than I want him to for all the work, and now he “can’t get his money right now”…  I’ll gladly sell that one…  
    July 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm #73182

    On the second one, you definitely want to send a letter, return receipt, of the per day storage charge and the intent to file for abandoned title after a given period of time. Include the date storage is to begin and the daily rate. Best to cover the bases in these cases.

    July 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm #73183
    Rick White

    I think you have two different issues here. The first is an abandoned vehicle and as Tom stated, dealing with this issue varies from state to state and I recommend you contact your local DMV office to find the steps you need to deal with this.

    The second vehicle you are dealing with seems to be an issue with your diagnostic fees. Is it your practice to discuss any and all fees with your customer BEFORE you start working on the vehicle? This one simple discussion can save you LOADS of heartache later. If you would like some ideas on how to deal with that, you can contact me offline and I will be happy to show you how to have this conversation painlessly.
    July 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm #73184

    We have had this problem in the past. What we did 15 years ago was require a $250 deposit up front, before the tow truck is allowed to drop off the car. We tell them that we use the money to make a diagnose and/or minor repairs, if needed. When we are done we will apply the difference, if any, to the approved repairs or refund if no repairs are going to be made only once the vehicle has left the premises. This has worked extremely well. People who are serious pay. Those who are not, move on to my competition. Haven’t had a stray since.

    July 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm #73186
    Patrick McElroy

    If you just want the vehicle(s) off your property, it may be cheaper in the long run to just tow the vehicle back to their house and “write it off”. Make sure they have a driveway and block the garage door if possible. A fellow shop owner has done this several times. Sometimes he will take off the steering wheel and keep it at his shop.  If the customer wants the steering wheel back, they are welcome to come pay the bill and get it.



    July 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm #73187

    Here’s one: The vehicle is here and the customer owes us ~ $1,500.  I filed and won (default judgment) in small claims.  However, I can’t get the title to sell the vehicle.  I never thought of the abandoned vehicle route.  But the mechanics lien is really tricky with all the time requirements — which we’ve exceeded.  Any other ideas?

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