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Titling Abandoned Vehicles In Pennsylvania

  • 4 min read

One of the most common inquiries we get about vehicle titles is an abandoned vehicle.


Using the abandoned vehicle process to get a title and typically most scenarios that seem like they’re abandoned vehicles really aren’t it’s something where a vehicle was purchased or somebody didn’t have a title where it’s not really abandoned it’s something that there’s no paperwork for.

But if you do have an abandoned vehicle here’s an example of how that process works this comes from the state of Pennsylvania which is adjudicated by PennDOT their department of transportation it gives you all the instructions on how to do a disposal of an abandoned vehicle from private property.

First of all it tells you what is an abandoned vehicle it’s one where the owner has relinquished all rights title claim and possession with no intention of reclaiming it so as long as the prior owner has no intention of reclaiming it then that’s the first one.

Abandoned vehicle is one that has been inoperable left unattended for 48 hours has remained illegal on the highway or left on public property for 48 hours if it’s on private property without the consent of the owner then it’s 24 hours but what does that mean for you as the property owner as far as getting the title because that’s what most people are wanting to do well the rules go like this.

Methods of disposing of abandoned vehicles from private property the following methods do not apply to private parking lots unless they’re posted to notify the public so if you’re a parking lot or a parking operation this doesn’t apply but if you’re a private property owner this does apply one option is the property owner may request that a police department declare the vehicle abandoned and require a salvor meaning junkyard tow truck company to take possession of the vehicle if you just want to tow it away call the police they’ll come get it property owner may personally remove a vehicle from their private property to a place of storage and may bring an action before district justice basically you have to go to court and the landowner must provide the vehicle owner reasonable notice when you go to court and then you’ll get a judgment from the court where it may be sold at a sheriff’s auction well that doesn’t get you a title what about option three the property owner may file a suit in common please court requesting that an order be entered that awards ownership of the subject vehicle to the landowner that’s what I guess you’re looking for extinguishes the right title and interest so this is a court process it’s not a DMV process PennDOT would be able to accept the court order as evidence of ownership in lieu of a title so this is exactly what you want if you get an order from the Court you can bring that to PennDOT.

They’ll accept it as a evidence of ownership just like you have a title the order for an applicant to obtain a title must accompany the application for title along with taxes and fees and you have to prove to PennDOT that reasonable notice of the court proceeding had been provided to the

vehicle owner such as a lien holder so if you’re going to do the court order make sure you send out the proper notices they give you an example of what the court order is like this is what the judge will give you how do you do a co-order it’s a little more complicated than just walking into court you have to have some filings done

The court can’t really help you prepare that and you don’t necessarily need an attorney but it is a court case so you want to get good legal advice not just title advice so that’s your option in Pennsylvania if you want to take ownership of a vehicle left on private property have to go to court that’s the way it works for an abandoned vehicle in Pennsylvania PennDOT.

Won’t do it just on your say so they need a court order to have that done so hopefully that gives you some information there are other title methods you could use depending on your scenario and you can see those on our website at

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