How to Check a Vehicle Title for a Lien

How to Check a Vehicle Title for a Lien


When looking for a used vehicle, potential buyers should check whether there is a lien on the car title. This step is important, as liens can complicate ownership transfers and lead to unexpected financial obligations for new vehicle owners. A solution is to run a car title lien check. In this article, we at ClearVin have revealed everything about how to check if a car has a lien.

In addition, we provide simple online tools, such as a VIN lookup and license plate search, that will help any car enthusiast perform a car lien check. To meet our customers’ expectations, ClearVin has updated a vehicle history report with detailed information on vehicle lien verification. As a result, you receive comprehensive data about the car’s background. With solid expertise in providing VIN data, ClearVin is your reliable partner in checking vehicle liens.

What Is a Vehicle Title Lien?

What Is a Vehicle Title Lien

A car title lien is a legal claim that a lender or creditor has on a vehicle that the owner has used as collateral for a loan. This means that the private lender, financial institution, or another creditor has the right to repossess the vehicle if its owner fails to repay the vehicle lien. As a result, the car owner does not fully own it until the debt is paid off and the car title lien release is performed.

When a person buys a vehicle with a loan, the lender places a lien on the vehicle’s title. This car lien serves as a form of security for the creditor in case the borrower defaults on the loan. It remains in place until the loan is paid off in full. After this, the lender releases the vehicle lien, and the new car owner receives a clean title to the vehicle.

Sometimes, vehicle owners might not realize there’s a car lien imposed on their vehicle title. This could happen if the lender forgets to remove the lien after the loan is paid off, or if the owner neglects to follow up with the lender to get a car title lien release. To prevent any problems, we at ClearVin recommend running a car lien search to check vehicle lien status and ensure any vehicle liens, if any, are properly released.

If a vehicle owner can’t pay off the remaining loan balance and clear the car lien, the lender can repossess the vehicle. After this, the creditor has the right to sell the car and cover the remaining loan balance, making a profit. Yet, this will greatly affect the former owner’s credit score and make it hard for them to get loans in the future.

How to Check If a Car Has a Lien

How to Check If a Car Has a Lien

There are many cases when it would be useful to check vehicle lien status. This will help avoid any issues with vehicle documentation. Let’s take a look at how to check a lien on a car.

An Auto Lien Check as a Solution

Sometimes, car owners might not know there is a lien on a vehicle title. This can happen because the lender did not remove it after the loan was paid off, or because the car owner forgot to get a car title lien release. To prevent any issues, car enthusiasts and potential buyers should check the auto title regularly to ensure any vehicle liens are cleared.

Take a Look at the Vehicle Title

When buying a used car, you should check its title. This is your starting point in any operation with vehicles. As a rule, trustful sellers provide car titles to potential buyers, so the last ones can check the basic vehicle details.

Although car titles should reveal all the important vehicle details, their structure can vary by state in the US. Usually, these documents include information like the current owner, past owners, if any, and any outstanding or past liens. That is how you can check the vehicle lien status.

VIN Search for Liens Will Lend You a Hand

If you want to obtain the most accurate information that is available in VIN databases, run a VIN lien check. All you need to do is enter the vehicle identification number, and the system will provide you with a comprehensive vehicle history report. Along with the car’s specifications, accident and ownership histories, and last recorder mileage, you get a review of vehicle liens, if any.

We at ClearVin always strive to supply only relevant and updated information from reliable and official databases. That is why you can expect a detailed review of a lien on a car if it is detected.

How Do I Get a Lien Removed from a Car Title?

How Do I Get a Lien Removed from a Car Title

As a rule, car enthusiasts are scared of vehicle liens when they face them during a car purchase. Luckily, there are ways to remove a lien from a car title.

The procedure is much easier if you are the original borrower who is aware of all the nuances regarding your specific case. It may be more complicated if you are not the original borrower. Yet, it is always possible to get a car lien release in any case.

Get Details Regarding a Car Lien From a Lender

The first step to getting a car title lien release is to contact the lender or creditor that placed the lien on the vehicle. The person who imposed a lien on the car will provide more details. For example, the creditor can outline some requirements for a car lien release, such as specifying the amount of money that is needed to be repaid to release the lien, providing proof of payment, or fulfilling other obligations. Communicate with the lender to understand what needs to be done to release the vehicle lien. As a rule, you need to pay a certain sum of money and provide the lender with confirmation payment documents to solve the issue.

Alternatively, you can send a car lien release letter to the lender. It would be the easiest way. Remember that the more additional documents you attach, the higher your chance of getting a positive result from the creditor. Usually, the lender should stamp and send you your certificate of title when the vehicle loan is paid off. However, this often may not be the option.

If all the lender claims were met, get a car lien release form from the creditor. It should include the VIN, owner’s name, debt amount, and satisfaction date. Always check whether the data stated in the form matches the details in your car title.

Apply to your local DMV or another relevant institution to have a lien on a car title released. Gather all the paperwork and provide all the details to the DMV workers so they may handle the rest.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to seek legal assistance. A lawyer specializing in car lien questions can help you solve the legal issues and work towards getting a car title lien release. They can provide a legal consultation for you or even file a lawsuit on your behalf and argue your case in court to have the lien removed. The last option makes sense when the lender refuses to solve the vehicle lien question and cooperate after you meet all the obligations.

There are cases when the car lien may have been satisfied previously but not officially released by the creditor. In this situation, gather all relevant documents, such as payment receipts or loan agreements, to prove that the debt has been paid off. Once the necessary documentation is collected, submit it to the local DMV along with a vehicle lien release form to have the lien removed from the car title. Legal support also makes sense in cases like this.

Local DMV Can Be Helpful

If you have paid off your car lien and it has been in the DMV records for around 5–10 years without any updates, chances are the DMV has already removed it. After some time, the DMV clears out old records to make space for new ones. Since auto loans typically don’t last 10 years, there’s no need for the DMV to keep the record after such a long time without changes.

Yet, you may need to apply for a DMV lien check in order to verify that the lien on a vehicle title is not applicable anymore. This will be legal confirmation that you have the car lien case solved.

The steps and methods we have mentioned will help you spot a lien on a vehicle and be sure you are dealing with reliable used vehicle options.

Summing Up

Getting a car title lien release involves a few steps that need to be completed. By following our recommendations, running a car lien search to get more details, and staying organized with your paperwork, you can successfully clear the title of any liens and regain full ownership of your vehicle.

To avoid pitfalls and issues with a car lien when buying a secondary vehicle, the best solution is to conduct a VIN lien check with the help of ClearVin online tools. Receiving all the needed vehicle data has become as easy as ABC with us. To find out more, check out the tools we have or contact us online if any questions arise. Alternatively, you can call us at +1 (844) 268-5991 (8:00 AM–3:00 PM EST, Monday–Friday).

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