Checking a car title for liens

Alternatively, you may want to pay what you owe in a single payment. Another option is selling the vehicle to a dealership or private party and sorting out the payoff and lien arrangements at the same time. Taking the vehicle to a dealer is often simplest as they will work with you on the legal and financial steps.


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Selling your car to a private party puts the onus on you to handle the paperwork with the buyer. Depending on the state, the lender may be able to send the new title directly to the buyer rather than it going to the seller, who would sign it over afterwards. Some protection for both parties to consider in the private sale process is using an escrow service. Online lender RoadLoans enables you to complete our short application in minutes and get an immediate decision. If approved, choose your next car, truck or SUV knowing just how much you have to spend, and that your financing is already in hand.

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A lien on a car is like a safeguard for the lender or other interested party. Because the loan is secured against the vehicle, the lienholder can also insist the asset is protected, so the borrower is normally required to take out full insurance coverage — both collision and comprehensive insurance. With car loans, the lender usually files for a lien with the state department of motor vehicles. Besides being the lienholder, the auto lender will typically also hold the vehicle title. When the loan is paid off, the car lien is released.

How to get a lien release on a vehicle

The process for this can vary by state but, generally, the lienholder sends a release document to the state DMV, where the title is updated and then sent to you. You may receive a copy of the lien release document from the lender, too. You now own the vehicle free and clear.

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When buying or selling a vehicle, a lien is something that deserves some attention to ensure there are no surprises after the transaction. Keep these tips in mind.

Do you still need help ?

Depending on the laws specific to each state, the buyer may be able to send paperwork related to the sale and transfer instructions along with the payment to receive the cleared certificate of title directly from the lender. If this option is not available, the lender sends the cleared title to the seller. In either situation, both parties must sign the certificate of title to complete the sale and transfer ownership to the buyer. The fee for using an escrow account adds an extra expense to the transaction and is usually based on the total amount of the vehicle sale.

Because an escrow account protects the interests of both the seller and the buyer, the service fees are commonly split between parties. Home Ownership.

New York DMV Answers | If a lien on a vehicle is not listed on the title certificate

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Title Liens

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