There are various reasons that a car is left abandoned at a mechanic’s shop. The primary reason is that the person who left the car did not have the money to pay for the repairs. Sometimes the car is left because the owner moved away or they just do not want it anymore. Whatever the reason, a mechanic has to make up for this loss of money, which includes labor and parts. Many times, the only way to recover a loss like this is to sell the vehicle.

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Send a registered letter, with a return signature, to the owner of the vehicle. In the letter, state the total due, including any storage charges, when the vehicle was finished, and how long he have before you attempt to take possession of his car.

Report the vehicle as abandoned to your local police department. A police officer will come to the shop and take the owner information from the vehicle and make a report. By reporting the vehicle as abandoned, you can officially document when the vehicle was left. Check with your local government or police department regarding the length of time required to wait to make an abandoned vehicle report.

Apply for a mechanic’s lien through a title services company in your area. As defined by, a mechanic's lien is, “a lien secured on property, as an automobile, building, or the like, by the contractor who has repaired or built it, in order to ensure payment for labor and materials.” In other words, a lien is a legal claim on a piece of property, and in the case of a mechanic's lien, a claim on the vehicle. You cannot sell the vehicle unless you own the title for it, so a mechanic’s lien is absolutely necessary. The process of applying for a mechanic’s lien will vary from state to state, so inquire about the procedure before you apply.

Wait for the title. There will be a waiting period before you receive the title in your name. The title company has to attempt to make contact with the current title owner and inform him that there will be a lien placed on his vehicle. If the owner does not dispute the lien, and there are no unforeseen circumstances relating to the car, then you will own the title after the waiting period.

Sell the car. After you receive the title, you can advertise it in the classifieds, online or in local trade publications. The least expensive selling option would be to purchase a for sale sign to place in the car’s window and display the car on your shop’s lot.


The process for acquiring a title can be stopped. This may happen if the vehicle owner wants to pay their bill or if they dispute the charges.

Be sure to fully document your repair bills and work authorizations. Many title applications will require a copy of a full work order and signatures from the customers.


Do not attempt to sell the car unless you own the title to it. It is illegal.