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How to Register a Lien Sale Vehicle in California

How to Register a Lien Sale Vehicle in California

 

Before sealing the deal on your purchase of a vehicle with lien sale paperwork it is advisable to do the following (set in order of importance):

  • Confirm that the VIN (vehicle identification number) on the paperwork matches the VIN on the vehicle itself. The VIN location is easily accessible from the outside of the vehicle and you should not have a problem comparing the two. If the VIN on the vehicle does NOT match the VIN on the lien paperwork then the lien sale process that was conducted is NOT valid. This is by far the most avoidable mistake.

lien-sale-vehicle-identification-number-dmv
  • Confirm that the date you are purchasing the vehicle is NOT PRIOR to the lien sale date. This again falls under an avoidable mistake.

    • Note: There are times that the lien holder is eager to sell and attempts to sell the vehicle prior to the lien sale purchase date – YOU CAN NOT do this. Below is a picture of the lien sale date listed on the REG 168A form

reg 168 a - lien sale - lien sale paperwork
  • Call the lien sale unit @ 916-657-7617 and confirm the following:

    • That no declaration of opposition has been filed. In cases where the lien sale is opposed:

      • You will need a court judgment to get authorization to conduct a lien sale.

    • That the lien sale was conducted properly. At times mistakes are made by the lien holder or the lien holder’s agent. These mistakes invalidate the lien process. Some of those mistakes can be:

      • Not sending notice of pending lien sale to the legal owners on the DMV record.

      • Not sending notice of pending lien sale to the registered owner on the DMV record.

      • Not sending notice of pending lien sale to all interested parties on the DMV record.

      • Not sending notice of pending sale lien to the Department of motor vehicles on the DMV record.

      • Notice of pending lien sale was not sent via certified mail with return receipt to the DMV.

        Note: If the lien sale is NOT valid – the lien holder (it can be the storage facilities or towing service or other public agency) has to conduct a lien sale again. All registered and legal owners, or any interested parties, that have an ownership interest, must have another notice written notice sent to them via certified mail.

  • Pro-tip: The easiest way to confirm that the paperwork in your possession and the lien sale conducted was valid is to visit the DMV in person to have the paperwork reviewed or come to an office like Quick Auto Tags to review it.

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Registration fees due

 

If the lien sale is approved by the DMV & has all of the documents required the next thing you as the buyer needs to keep in mind are the registration fees. Many vehicles that are sold at lien sale have their vehicle registration expired and have excessive back registration fees.

 

Important note: The fact that a lien sale was conducted does NOT void any back fees or penalties – this is why it is imperative that you do your homework prior to committing to the purchase of this vehicle. Sometimes the registration fees due exceed the value of the vehicle.

Registering a Vehicle as the Lien Holder

In the case where you as the lien holder (the person or entity who filed the lien for unpaid storage fees, or other unpaid services rendered) do NOT sell the vehicle you retain the vehicle. “Retaining” a vehicle means, in essence, you bought the vehicle yourself. If no sale is done on the lien sale date the lien holder becomes the first buyer. You will pay sales tax over the following:

  • As the storage facility, you will pay over the storage charges/storage fees

  • As a body shop or mechanic, you will pay over the lien amount

Transfer the Vehicle Into Your Name As Soon As Possible

After you’ve purchased a vehicle with lien sale paperwork it is essential to initiate the transfer of the car into your name as soon as possible. The date that fees become due is on the sale date. If you do not register the vehicle in a timely fashion any right to waive any sort of penalty or fee will be waived.

What Documents Will I Need To register the vehicle?

The lien sale paperwork packet that you will have will be compromised of different types of paperwork depending on the vehicle value:

  1. Vehicles valued at $4,000 or less:

    1. You will need a REG 168A

    2. A bill of sale from the lien holder to the new buyer

    3. A copy of the DMV record (vehicle report/DCS) listing the registered owners, legal owner, or interested parties.

    4. A copy of the return receipt requested sent to the DMV along with proof that anyone with an interest in the vehicle was notified by mail.

  2. Vehicles valued at $4,001 or more:

    1. You will need a REG 168

    2. A bill of sale from the lien holder to the new buyer

    3. Certified or bulk mailing receipts

    4. DMV authorization to conduct a lien sale paperwork

Lien Holder – Post Sale Details

As the lien holder it is imperative that you understand the following details:

  • The license plates that are on the vehicle, if any, need to be removed – once removed you need to destroy them – do not give the plates to the new buyer because a new set of license plates will be issued along with a new license number for the lien sale car.

  • It is strongly advised that you retain copies of the paperwork in case the buyer loses the paperwork or any other issue arises from the lien sale.

  • Submit a Notice of Release of Liability the moment you sell the vehicle. Click here to submit an NRL online

Where to Go to Register your Vehicle

First and foremost, your choices to register this vehicle into your name are two:

  1. Locate your nearest department of motor vehicles. Click here to find your nearest department of motor vehicles.

  2. For more personalized service you can come to visit a licensed registration service (or simply contact us): Click here to find a local business partner for the department of motor vehicles.

More Lien Sale Information

  • Lien sales are filed pursuant to the following vehicle code:

    • Vehicles valued at $4,000 or less (California Civil Code (CCC) §3072).

    • Vehicles valued over $4,000 or stored at a self-storage facility (CCC §3071).

    • Vessels or a vessel/trailer combination valued at $1,500 or less (California Harbors & Navigations Code (CH&NC) §§504 and 507).

    • Vessels or a vessel/trailer combination valued over $1,500 (CH&NC §503)

  • Lien sale limitations contained are located here: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/handbook/vehicle-industry-registration-procedures-manual-2/lien-sales-abandoned-abated-vehicles/

  • A storage facility must file a “long lien”(lien sales over $4000) regardless of value.

  • A lien sale is invalidated when a vehicle is wrongfully withheld.

  • A lien sale is invalidated when the vehicle is NOT located at the address listed on the lien sale or the lien holder does not have possession of the vehicle.

  • A legal owner, the registered owner, or anyone with an interest in the vehicle should be able to get to the vehicle location easily accessible.

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