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Claiming a Car in Texas and Utah Is Difficult, Might Be Worth It

Both Texas and Utah allow the bonded-title procedures, but usually those who found vehicles on their properties are trying to avoid that step, so they'll have a clean title as soon as possible.
Cadillac_Ranch,_Amarillo,_TX 7 photos
Cadillac_Ranch,_Amarillo,_TX1957-chevrolet-bel-air-nomad-UT1974-ford-econoline-Texasc8-chevy-corvette at BonnevilleRestored 750-hp-1969-chevy-camaro-rs-Utahtexas-ghost-farm-hides-more-than-100-abandoned-classics
Sometimes, finding a car hidden on a property might be a reason for joy, while in other situations, it is a painstaking process that could lead the land owners to ditch them right away. But, if they found a 1964 ½, D-Code Mustang, they shouldn't call the towers that fast. The guys with the towing machines can't do too much anyway if some procedures are not followed.Don't mess with Texas
Back in the '80s, there was an anti-littering campaign, and over the years, it turned into a catchphrase for locals. Also known as the Lone Star State, Texas is known to car enthusiasts for the Cadillac Ranch. Also, Texas has the highway with the highest speed limit in the U.S. While it's not the German Autobahn, it still allows 85 mph (137 kph). We know of cities where the speed limit is 19 mph (31 kph)! For some vehicles, such high velocity might end in engine or transmission failure, especially if that car is held in place by duct tape, ropes, and staples. And when that happens, they end up in junkyards, and some are good for target practice.

Here, the laws against abandoned vehicles are strict for vehicles left unattended on highways, but more relaxed on those parked in public places or private properties. For the former situation, the government allows up to 48 hours if they do not present any danger to other drivers. The latter allows for up to seven days. After that time, a peace officer will call the tow truck. Then, their owners or lienholders will get a notification from local authorities via certified mail with a return receipt. If the letter returns as unanswered, the enforcement agencies are starting the procedures for an auction sale.

If someone abandons a vehicle on private property, the landowner must wait for 30 days before starting any procedures. After that, they may ask the police to remove it or fill in the necessary paperwork so a tower will take that junk off their lawn. If they want to keep it instead, the procedures are not that easy. They could go with the bonded-title procedure, which might be costlier. But there is nothing they can do without trying to contact the last title-holder via certified mail with a return receipt. The best-case scenario would be to get the title from the former owner and put it on their name.Dreamland for barnfinds
Utah is the second driest state in the U.S. This is why if someone finds a car hidden inside a shed or a barn, there is very little rust on it. It is the only state whose capital name is three words long, but it used to be with four. In 1868 they dropped the "Great" from the "Great Salt Lake City."

As elsewhere, cars appeared on the market, and some of them can still be found in barns, forests, or some other ditches. While the police will take care of those abandoned on public properties, there might be something to do to save those left behind.

According to Utah laws, a towing company cannot remove an abandoned vehicle without permission. That may be obtained from a police officer, a law enforcement agency, a highway authority, or the property owner where the relic is located. The authorities consider a vehicle abandoned if it is left unattended for more than 48 hours on a highway or seven days on private property.

Suppose you find something worth restoring and driving down the road again. The next step would be to find the VIN on the vehicle and ask DMV for the owner or lienholder. Send them a notification via certified mail with a return receipt to inform them about the vehicle. 

There are two ways to get the car: either give it to the police and wait for them to auction it with a clean title, or go through the bonded title process. The latter situation would be better if it were guided by a local attorney. One wrong step and the bonded title won't be approved, and, moreover, the vehicle might be claimed by the police.

Yet, thanks to the low-rust present on most abandoned cars from Utah, it might well be worth it. Also, the landowner must not remove any parts from the vehicle while it is in their possession, since that would be an infraction.

Editor's note: The information in this article is not legal advice; for any info regarding abandoned vehicles rules, refer to local law enforcement agencies.


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