Getting rid of a car with wrong name on title
May 15, 2018 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Our car is undrivable and we need to get rid of it. The title is in my partner's mother's name and she is across the country. How do we navigate this?

My partner's mother's gifted us the car but the title was never transferred to my partner's name. We have the physical title but it's still in their mother's name. She has moved to Texas and did not sign the title before leaving.

It's my understanding that to scrap a car you need to have the title and it needs to be in your name. The only way we can think of to make this work is to overnight her the title and she can sign it and overnight it back. But this would be $50 total for there and back, plus $70 to transfer the title, on top of whatever it's going to take to tow it, and it's not going to get much in scrap. I also don't know how long it takes for the DMV to process.

The problem we have is that the car is currently sitting in a mechanic's lot. Even if we wanted to pay to tow it somewhere else to leave it while we get it sorted out, there's nowhere to put it--it would be impossible to tow into our underground parking garage, my partner's dad only has street parking (where you have to switch sides every night), and my family is half an hour away so the cost to tow would be even more. Is there a less expensive way to do this that takes that reality into account? We're in Wisconsin if that makes a difference.
posted by brook horse to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Clarification that by "that reality" I mean "we need to get rid of it as soon as possible."
posted by brook horse at 8:49 PM on May 15, 2018

Check with your local municipal scrapyard. I had the same issue as you and explained it to them. Turns out I just had to sign an affidavit that I had the right to scrap the vehicle (which the tow truck driver brought with him) and they hauled the vehicle away for free with no problem.

Obviously, your local rules might differ.
posted by The Deej at 9:00 PM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Call around to different scrap yards, Pick-N-Pulls, some might give you a couplefew hundred for it. Catalytic converters can scrap for $100 alone because platinum and palladium are $900/oz and there's a couple ounces in there (dangerous to extract, though, which is why the discount at scrap).
posted by rhizome at 9:28 PM on May 15, 2018

There are many charities that will accept donations of cars that don't even run. If you did that, you wouldn't have to worry about towing -- the charity would come pick it up. It strikes me that your partner's mom could just fax a "notarized" affidavit (in quotes, because a faxed affidavit won't be bumpy) giving your partner her Power of Attorney for the purposes of financial things and maybe even specify permission to dispose of the car.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 11:03 PM on May 15, 2018

I would just get her permission over the phone to sign the title in her name. It’s not like anyone is going to challenge/investigate for a junket car.
posted by mercredi at 4:38 AM on May 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

I would just get her permission over the phone to sign the title in her name.

This is what I would do. If you are certain this is okay with her, no one is checking title signatures against some sort of signature bank for something like a scrap car. I have literally done this on a wink-nod basis within the DMV for a title that required two signatures when I only had one. "Oh, he has to sign it too. How convenient that he is OUTSIDE IN THE CAR. I will be right back" I'd just sign it and be done with it.
posted by jessamyn at 7:04 AM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Find some company and donate it. The company will cover the costs and send a small tax-exemption release to the owner and will pick it up - the experience is generally great!

I have checked at switching a title (not in Wisconsin) for a vehicle owned by a parent and at the title office they laid out the expectation that I would have to pay sales tax, title transfer tax and other things that are not free and I had to pay a fair market value for it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:12 AM on May 16, 2018

Thanks all. Their mother called the DMV (and had I not been such an anxious mess I would have thought to do the same!) and what they told her is all we need is for her to sign the title and send a letter giving us permission to scrap the car (no title transfer required). The mechanic was also very considerate and is letting us keep the car for a week or so in the lot for no charge (he knows/has worked with my partner's family before) so we can just priority mail her the title which is much less expensive. But I will check out the suggestions for ways to physically get the car removed, now that we have the title/permissions stuff sorted out!
posted by brook horse at 9:31 AM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

The scrap yards should be able to send their own towtruck just like the donation orgs do, at least they did in my case. The donations are pretty much giving the car to someone else to scrap for money, to do all the above, but pretty much anybody who wants cars like this knows how to make money from them and has their own towtrucks. Ones who require you to tow it there yourself are losers you can skip.
posted by rhizome at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2018

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