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.



Related Questions and Answers

Where Can I Do an Online VIN Number Check?

An online VIN check can reveal a number of potential problems with a car you're looking to buy. These services make it harder for dealers to hide vehicle repair and accident history data from the consumer. A quick online search yields a number of different sites where you can do a free VIN search.  One of these sites is simply called Vehicle Identification Number. This is a free site. Another site, AnalogX, allows you to view production data relating to your car using the VIN. Anybody who watches TV these days is aware of CARFAX. This site is probably the most popular of all VIN check sites.

How Can I Verify the VIN Numbers of a Car?

You're wondering how to verify the VIN numbers of your car for accuracy. The VIN will tell you just about everything about your car that you might want or need to know. If you need to verify that the VIN you see under the windshield was actually assigned to your car, one good site to do this is AutoCheck. At AutoCheck, you can input the VIN you see and verify that it pertains to your car. The site Vehicle Identification Number will help you decode what each of the numbers in your VIN means so you can verify their accuracy.

Is Selling a Car with a Lien Illegal?

Selling a car with a lien isn't as hard as it may seem. You would normally want to wait until you own the car free and clear, but selling a car with a lien (or loan) on it still is possible and done every day. Each state will have slightly different rules and legalities to play by here, but basically, you tell the buyer you still owe on the loan. The buyer (or their bank) sends a check for the payoff amount to your lender, and a check to you for the difference. After the check clears, your lender will send the title either to the buyer for transfer, or to the motor vehicles department, which will draw up a new title showing the buyer as the owner.

Where Can I Get a Claim of Lien Form for an Auto?

A claim of lien form is required of any person or entity that is owed money for work performed or services rendered that wishes to take ownership of property because the buyer is in default. This is a fairly specific form that needs to be filed in civil court for a judge to render a ruling on. It must have certain information on it so the judge has everything needed to make that judgment. There are a number of places online where you can download or copy and paste one of these forms. The first is Forms Guru. At this site, you will need to copy the text on the page and paste it into a Word or Notepad file. Public Legal Forms is another free site that you will copy and paste from. They also offer their forms in pdf format for a small fee.

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