You May Put a Lien on an Abandoned Car in Oregon and South Carolina, But Read This First

1970 Pontiac GTO unrestored 7 photos
Photo: robert67bird/eBay
57 ford thunderbird1970-pontiac-gto Oregonburned car on tow truck foxCrater_Lake_National_Park_OregonFort_Sumter,_Charleston,_South_Carolinatesla-model-3-crashed_Oregon_
Most states allow landowners to claim the cars they found on their properties or even on public ones. But that might lead to suspicious activities, and that's why some states are stricter and others just cautious with the abandoned cars' issue.
Thanks to a good understanding between authorities and citizens, many abandoned vehicles were either removed from the roads, dismantled, or restored and drove with pride by their owners. Some of them put a bumper-sticker with "built not bought" on them, and they have all the right to do that, especially if they did it with their own hands. But sometimes, they find a nice relic in their yards or barns and have to surrender them to the authorities. They will come with a towing company that will auction it with a clean title later on.

Go deep, they said

And you can't go deeper in any of the lakes from the U.S. than on the Crater Creek from Oregon, which is 1,949 feet (594 m) deep. Also, with its 8,000 feet (2,438m) deep, Oregon's Hell Canyon is the deepest river gorge on the continent. But these are not the only unusual things here: its flag has two sides, with a beaver on the back. Also, you can't fuel your car by yourself in most gas stations since 2018, when a law passed, and customers had to be helped by a gas attendant. But some cars won't need gasoline anytime soon, the abandoned ones.

1970\-pontiac\-gto Oregon
Photo: robert6/bird_eBay
Oregon has a very strict rule regarding abandoned vehicles, either on public or private properties, meaning police will pick them up, and the landowners have to announce law enforcement about them. They also have to place a sign on the vehicle 72 hours before a tower may remove it and take it to a storage facility. Then, after another three days, the tower has to announce the police, request owner/lienholder information, and send them a certified letter with a return receipt. Only after that, the storing charges are accepted. In the end, if no one shows up to claim the vehicle, the towing company may organize an auction for it or send it to the crushers.

But the landowners cannot claim ownership of an abandoned vehicle. Moreover, DMV won't give them the address and details of the relic's owner. Still, there is a slim possibility to get it via a bonded title. But for that, the "finder" will have to talk to an attorney since claiming a property of a found vehicle is trickier than in other states.

The Palmetto State

The first shot of the Civil War was here, in South Carolina, at Fort Sumter. But, the military history of this state goes beyond that. Its nickname came from the palmetto trees used to build forts. Thanks to their elasticity, they bounced back the cannonballs threw at them. But the motorcyclists worldwide know South Carolina for the largest motorcycles rally, which gathered up to half of million bikers in 2018. Some say that some motorcycles were abandoned after the event.

Photo: National_Park_Oregon
With that in mind, we looked and found how some could take ownership over an abandoned vehicle. If it's on public property, the answer is easy: police will take them. After that, if the rightful owner/lien holder won't show up to claim it, they will sell it at an auction. If it is found on private property, the landowners must store it in an enclosed building before starting the procedures to claim it.

One of the fastest ways to get that vehicle in your name is by putting a lien on it. But for that, the landowner, towing company, or garage, must send a certified letter with a return receipt to the rightful owner of that car within ten days. If it doesn't, the lien will start only from the time the letter was sent. Suppose the identity of the last registered owner cannot be determined. In that case, the proprietor, owner, operator of the towing company, storage facility, garage, or repair shop must provide notice to a local newspaper in the area where the vehicle was found. After completing these steps, they may organize an auction to sell the car, and the state authorities will provide a clean title. After that, the purchaser may start restoring the vehicle and place that bumper-sticker on it.
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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.

About the author: Tudor Serban
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Tudor started his automotive career in 1996, writing for a magazine while working on his journalism degree. From Pikes Peaks to the Moroccan desert to the Laguna Seca, he's seen and done it all.
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