Checking for Car Liens: An Important Step

January 27, 2012

One thing a person should never have to worry about when buying a car is car liens. This article will show you how to avoid buying any cars with car liens still on them.

Car Liens Are a Huge Hassle

If you've bought a car that has a lien on it, you are in for months of stress and hassle. Especially if the person that you bought the car from is not honest and refuses to help you sort out the situation. The lender that owns the lien on the car can actually hold you responsible for the car. So, not only have you paid for the car, you will have to pay off the amount owed by the person who originally financed the car. To top that off, you have to deal with the problems it creates with the DMV. When buying a car it's important to follow a few easy steps to avoid this disaster.

Check the Paperwork

The very first thing you should do during the buying process or any financial transaction is to carefully read all the car paperwork, the title and the registration. These papers should tell you whether the car has a lien already on it or if the lien is completely paid off. You should not only check the name on the title and registration but check the seller's id if you are dealing with a private transaction. If any of these papers show that there is a lien on the vehicle, then you should ask the seller to provide paper work showing that the lien has been completely paid.

Get the VIN

You don't want to just check the name and identification. You need to get the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle and then compare it to the registration and the title. Get the VIN off the actual car instead of off the paper work. The VIN plate is usually on the dashboard of the car on the driver's side. The VIN is 17 numbers long. If the plate is missing any numbers or the whole VIN entirely, or if the numbers don't match the paper work, stop the car deal completely.

Where to Check the VIN

If the VIN matches the paper work, the next step is take the VIN and have it checked. You can take the number to the DMV to get a car history. The car history shows everyone who has owned the car and will show you whether the car has been in an accident. If anyone who's owned the car has a lien on the car still, the report will show that information as well.

Wait on the Paper Work

If the seller of the car says that they paid the lien and has paper work to show that, you should still wait until you get the final paper work. This paper work will show conclusively that the car has been paid for by the original owner. It could take 1 to 2 months for the final paper work and/or the title, but this depends on the institution sending the paper work.

Other Resources

These days, the DMV is not the only place to get information on a car. There also places you can go to online to get free reports that will show the history of the car. This history will include liens, accidents and damages.

Need a Car Loan?

It only takes a minute.