Lien Sales and Abandoned Vehicles

How to get rid of Them!

There are some diesel trucks that are a pleasure to work on, well-maintained, and that give a steady income stream to the shop. Unfortunately there’s also the flip side to this: trucks that come in and then never leave. There are many different reasons why a customer might leave or abandon a vehicle, or why a truck may stay in the shop for months at a time. There’s a few different ways to deal with this type of situation, and we’ll go over them now.

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The first type of vehicle that may be sitting around the shop for a while is a big build. This could be a 20 or $30,000 build-up on a truck that includes custom suspension, or a rebuilt engine and transmission, or all of the above. If you take this type of project on, be aware that you’ll be waiting on parts, there will be customization involved, and it’ll probably take two to three times longer than you think it will. The good part is that if you have the space this type of build cannot only be lucrative, it can also bump up your shop’s reputation. In most cases, items like storage are not charged, but make sure you have all of the money paid in full before the customer leaves with the keys.

Another type of vehicle to be aware of that could be clogging up shop space are the “customers looking for their own parts” types of builds. This includes vehicles with large items that are non-functional like engines or transmissions. Especially with engines, customers often think that they can find some type of magical deal on their own for pennies on the dollar. More often than not this isn’t the case, and the customer will have to end up getting an engine from the shop. With this type of customer, it’s best to have them on a time frame. If it’s something like an 8,000 or $10,000 engine build, it’s okay to have the vehicle around the shop for a while, but it can’t be there forever, the owner needs to be aware of that.

The final and probably worst case of a vehicle that will be sitting for a long time are vehicles where the repair cost is worth more than the vehicle itself. In this case, the shop can make an offer to buy the vehicle, and then deal with it, or they can charge and store it and hopes the owner comes back to retrieve it or decides to fix it. If you have a lot of Real Estate, these types of vehicles can simply end up being yard art, but if you run a busy and hectic shop or are in a busy area, eventually these vehicles must be gotten rid of.

One thing to remember, is that if a vehicle is parked by the side of the road or in the road it will eventually be towed by the city or county. If this happens, the owner may try to come back to the shop and hold them to blame, but it’s not likely. The other option especially if repairs have already been done is to go through a lien sale procedure that transfers ownership to the shop performing the repairs. The California DMV may have its issues, but it also has a great web page on how to go about lien selling a vehicle: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/vr/liensale Your state will vary of course on its laws and procedures, but you’ll get the general idea of how to perform this task after reading that document. Lien sales can definitely be a pain, but they can also be a source of income and a way to ensure the vehicle stays gone for good.

 

No matter what you decide to do about eternally sitting vehicles, make sure to make every effort to communicate and make contact with the customer so that a definite paper trail can be established in case the customer ever decides to try to go to court. Don’t be afraid to get rid of vehicles that have been sitting there months or years, as there is no reason a customer’s problem needs to become your own.