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Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 6536
Experience:  Consumer Lawyer
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My auto has been in impound for 5 days due to a 1 month delinquent

Customer Question

My auto has been in impound for 5 days due to a 1 month delinquent registration renewal. My mechanics told me that because of an accident and other operational problems the car is not worth much. If I abandon the car can I escape the release, impound and towing fees without penalties? LA, California
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  LADY LAWYER replied 4 years ago.

LADY LAWYER : Hello! I am happy to provide you with legal information today!
LADY LAWYER : Yes. If you abandon the car, the mechanic will be able to file an impound lien and then will eventually be able to get title to the vehilce. This is done in lieu of suing you for the fees BUT you need to know that in a very small percentage of cases, a mechanic may choose to sue for the fees owed to him. While this is rarely done, you do need to know that it is a possibility.
LADY LAWYER : Otherwise, they just lien the car and take ownership and then sell the vehicle.
LADY LAWYER : If you have any further questions, I am most happy to answer them! I strive for an excellent customer service rating, so if you need any additional help with this, just let me know. If not, would you kindly consider a positive rating for me at this time? It costs you nothing further to do but it does allow the site to compensate me for helping you. Thanks!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you.I have a few more questions for you but there is something i have to attend to so i'll be back in about 15 minutes.

Thanks for waiting a few,

Val R.
Expert:  LADY LAWYER replied 4 years ago.
Hi Val! No worries! I will wait until a little after 11. Thanks!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi again.

I have a little more info. The impound guy tried to get me to agree to pay $300 (down from $450++)to release me from further fees but then when I reminded him that he got to keep the car and whatever he can auction it for, he denied that they will get anything from it. He got me to agree to pay them $200. to be free and clear.

Now, I contacted my finance company who has the lien until I pay off the loan, which is only $800.00 left. They said that impound guy should not require any money because they're going to benefit from the auction. He told me they don't do that. Do you think I have to pay the impound the $200?

And either way, am I obligated to pay the sheriff's release fee, $150, if I abandon the car? What about the registration fees to the DMV?

Needless to say, the whole thing is a sorry mess and I'm sadly left with no vehicle. I'm just trying to move on as gracefully as I can
and try to "keep my shirt".
Thanks for your expertise.

Val Rope
Expert:  LADY LAWYER replied 4 years ago.
Hi Val, I had just signed off but I saw your reply via email so I came back to answer. I didn't realize the vehicle had a lien on it. What do you plan to do about that? If the car isn't worth much but there is a lien, the lien holder is first in line for payment so the car would probably be repossessed and sold via the lienholder unless they release the car to the mechanic. If the lienholder does repossess, they would be the ones that would have to pay the mechanic for his fees. So either way, the mechanic gets paid. If you do end up paying the mechanic the $200 to release you from liability, you need something in writing from him stating this is what he agrees to. Again, because I am unsure about what your lienholder plans to do, I cannot say what the mechanic would do either but MOST of the time, I don't see them suing anyone. They would be in court all the time. You wouldn't need to pay the Sheriff's release fee or the registration fee if you abandoned the car.
Expert:  LADY LAWYER replied 4 years ago.
Hey Val,

I am going to have to sign off. I stayed online an extra hour but my eyes are shutting. I will answer any additional questions you leave me first thing in the morning, okay? Thanks so much!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
To clarify, I will be paying off my loan to the finance company asap because this loan of three years has helped me improve my credit rating.

There's no mechanic. There's the impound guys, the finance co, and me. I have to go out to the impound co. (30 mi. away) to clean out my car tomorrow, Sat. before noon, and that's when the guy said I have to pay him $200, and that he will give me a signed statement to say I left the car "in exchange" for the balance of the fees. I think, hope, that's right.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Lady Lawyer,
Hope you slept well. I look forward to more feedback in the am.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
no, i'm not right. I'm kinda remembering that the impound guy said I have to give him the title & $200. But I can't get the title until I finalize the loan pmts and to wait until I get the title wired is about 10 days to 2 weeks. Then think of the daily impound charges!

Good grief. Since you said it's unlikely I'll be sued should I just take my chances, empty the car tomorrow, pay off the loan next week and just walk away?

Expert:  LADY LAWYER replied 4 years ago.
Sorry, I was using impound guy and mechanic interchangeably. I know who he is though. In any case, that is fine if you pay off the loan--I just didn't want you to have a whole other issue to worry about. Clearly, as you said, you cannot give the impound guy your title when you don't have it. So if he wants $200 and your title to release you from liability, that isn't even an option for you right now. You can let him know that you will be paying off the loan next week and that you will be happy to title the car to him then. If he accepts title to the car and the car is at least worth what you are going to owe to him, then I wouldn't give him an additional $200 because if he sues, the court isn't going to award him more money than what his fees were to begin with and they will consider the car as your payment. On the other hand, if he accepts title and it doesn't cover the fees, then you may want to consider the $200. It's true that these impound guys usually just take title and never sue, but there's no way to know whether this one would or not. You have to ask yourself whether it would be worth the hassle of having a lawsuit filed against you, which would be on your credit, and whether you want to spend the time, energy and money defending yourself. So those are your botXXXXX XXXXXnes. I can't really tell you what to do, but I hope I have given you enough information so that you can make an I formed decision about this. Let me know if you have any other questions. I will keep checking back in as I know you are supposed to go meet this guy today.

LADY LAWYER and 2 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for giving my options. I can go ahead and have some confidence that I've done my due diligence and gotten a legal perspective when I go out to settle this thing today.

Have a good weekend,

Val Rope
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So all I did today is go and retrieve my stuff from my still impounded car, said nothing and will simply take care of my final car payments this week. Am I obligated to send the title, when received, to the impound place, notify the DMV about the car's whereabouts or anything else?

Thanks again,
Val Rope
Expert:  LADY LAWYER replied 4 years ago.

Hi Val,

No, you are not obligated to do anything unless and until a court says you have to. The impound guy can choose to file for an abandoned title and get the car that way, or he can sue you for the amount outstanding, or he may do nothing. Only time will tell.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanx! Your advice is a great relief. Just Answer is a wonderful service.

Val Rope
Happy Customer
Expert:  LADY LAWYER replied 4 years ago.
So glad I could be of assistance, Val! You were a pleasure to interact with!