For a licensed repair facility or towing company which has legitimately taken possession voluntarily or legally, there is a process for the company to obtain a title for the purpose of disposing of the vehicle.
The process involves 4 steps:
1. Present a valid automotive business license along with a repair order signed by the vehicle owner, or legal towing affidavit.
2. Attempt to contact the prior owner and any lienholder by certified mail for a period of 30 – 90 days.
3. Advertise and publicize for 4 consecutive weeks in the legal newspaper a notice of public auction to be held on a certain date. The auction must be held during normal business hours and allow the general public to bid.
4. Conduct a legal auction and sell the vehicle to the highest bidder.
When all of these steps are followed, the licensed automotive facility can submit proof of these steps to the DMV for a title to be issued to the buyer.
This process is intended to allow a repair facility to dispose of a vehicle and offset their costs. It is not intended to process titles for non-documented owners or for the garage to take ownership themself (unless they are the highest bidder).
Attempts to use the mechanics lien process to get a title for a person who has no paperwork could be a criminal violation, and subject the vehicle owner to penalties and revocation of title.
The mechanics lien process is also not the correct title process for an abandoned vehicle, unless the vehicle is abandoned at a licensed automotive repair facility.