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Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most common questions regarding car lien sales in California. If you have further questions or require assistance, please get in touch with our team. We are always ready to assist you.

What is a car lien sale?

A car lien sale is a process that allows a lienholder, such as a towing company or repair shop, to legally sell a vehicle to recover unpaid debt. The sale is conducted through a public auction, where the highest bidder becomes the vehicle’s new owner. 

How do I know if my vehicle may be eligible for a lien sale in California?

A vehicle may be subject to a lien sale if it has been left unclaimed for a specified period, typically 30 days or more, and the owner has not made any efforts to retrieve it or settle outstanding debts. If you believe your vehicle may be eligible for a lien sale, it is recommended that you consult with a professional lien service provider for further guidance. 

What are the requirements for conducting a car lien sale in California?

Specific requirements must be met for car lien sales in California. These include providing proper notice to the vehicle owner, notifying any additional parties interested in the vehicle, such as lenders or lessees, and complying with specific state regulations. Working with a reputable lien service provider that understands and follows the legal requirements is essential to ensure a smooth and compliant process. Some of the information required are listed below:

  • Vehicle identification number
  • License plate number
  • Year, make, and model of the vehicle (engine # if a motorcycle or off-highway vehicle)
  • Date of possession
  • Name and address of the person who left the vehicle in your possession if known
  • Name and address of any person who might have an ownership interest in the vehicle if known
  • Storage rate per day
  • Repair charges if applicable (only if you have a BAR #)
  • Date repairs were completed (only if you have a BAR #)
  • If you are a repair facility, your BAR (Bureau of Automotive Repair) number

Are auto registration and auto titling services included in a lien sale?

No, auto registration and auto titling services are not typically included in a lien sale. These services are separate and must be completed by the vehicle’s new owner after the lien sale process is finalized. You first get the lien sale packet, which is your ownership document. Then, you or whoever buys the vehicle from you is responsible for registering the vehicle and paying the registration fees and sales tax on the vehicle’s sale price.

Can I get a copy of the lien sale packet if it gets lost?

Yes, but you must shoulder the fee for reprinting, preparing, shipping, and handling another set of the lien sale packet. 

Can I transfer the ownership of a vehicle acquired through a lien sale?

Yes. Once you are the legal owner, you can sell or transfer the vehicle to another individual. However, following the proper procedures, such as providing a bill of sale and completing the necessary paperwork, is crucial to transfer the ownership legally. 

Are there any risks involved in purchasing a vehicle through a lien sale?

While purchasing a vehicle through a lien sale can offer great value, there are some risks to consider. It is important to thoroughly inspect the vehicle’s condition and history before bidding or purchasing. Additionally, it is advisable to research the liens and outstanding debts associated with the vehicle to avoid any unforeseen financial obligations.

Can I still register a vehicle after it has gone through a lien sale?

Yes, it is possible to register a vehicle after it has gone through a lien sale. Once you have obtained ownership of the vehicle, you can proceed with the necessary steps for auto registration with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This includes providing the required documentation, such as the bill of sale, lien sale paperwork, and proof of insurance. 

Can my lien sale be opposed?

Yes. The registered owner, the company financing the vehicle, or any other interested party could oppose car lien sales in California. You can request to continue only after doing one of the following:

  • Get an original, signed copy of a release of interest from the person or entity who opposed the lien sale. This form is at the bottom of the denial letter you received from DMV. This can also be a Statement of Facts (REG 256). 
  • Take the opposer to court within 30 days from the date on the letter of denial from the DMV, and if you receive judgment in your favor, submit a copy of the court judgment, a copy of the plaintiff’s claim (you are the plaintiff), and a Statement of Facts, REG 256 form stating: “A court judgment has been received in the lienholder’s favor. It has been at least 35 days, and no money has been received.” 
  • If you take the opposer to court, but legal service is unsuccessful under Civil Code 3072(e), you can submit a completed and signed Application to Continue Lien Sale After Unsuccessful Service, form REG 569, and the unopened certified letter or court documents proving unsuccessful personal service.