Reasons for a mechanic’s lien:
Services rendered – services performed but not paid
Unpaid storage fees
Per California law, a possessory lien is a “hold” against your property, filed by an unpaid contractor, subcontractor, laborer, or material supplier, and is recorded with the county recorder’s office. If unpaid, it allows a foreclosure action, forcing the sale of the property in lieu of compensation.
But when it comes to your vehicle, if you don’t pay for repairs, tows or storage that you’ve commissioned within a specific period of time — which varies by state — the service provider who has worked on your vehicle can take steps to establish a mechanic’s lien. A mechanic’s lien, also known as a garageman’s lien, means the mechanic, storage facility or towing company may be able to sell your car to obtain compensation for the unpaid debt, depending on your state’s law.
Auto body repair shop
Auto mechanic’s shop
Owners of private property
Owner’s of storage facility / storage company
Services rendered – services performed but not paid
Unpaid storage fees
Vehicle identification number
Signed repair authorization for mechanic work performed or written statement for work performed for mechanics or body shops
For a storage company storage charges
Dates when the vehicle came into the lien holder’s possession
Date when the work was completed (if the vehicle underwent repairs)
Date when the vehicle owner or company who financed the vehicle was notified of the amount due.
In general, the state’s transportation agency issues rules, and regulations when it pertains to mechanic’s lien. In California, the California Vehicle Code that addresses lien sales are the following:
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)
DMV — The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Lien — A legal claim on a vehicle for unpaid towing, repairs, or storage costs.
Lienholder — As used in this chapter, the lienholder is the person or entity who has an interest in the vehicle due to storage and/or towing costs.
Legal Owner — The person or entity with a financial interest in a vehicle and is listed on the titling document in the “Lienholder” section (usually when there is a car loan on the car’s title).
The cost to process a lien depends on the value and the type of vehicle being liened:
$70 (maximum amount allowable to charge)Vehicles valued at $4,000 or less (California Civil Code (CCC) §3072).
$100 (maximum amount allowable to charge)Vehicles valued over $4,000 or stored at a self-storage facility (CCC §3071).
$100 (maximum amount allowable to charge)Vessels or a vessel/trailer combination valued at $1,500 or less (California Harbors & Navigations Code (CH&NC) §§504 and 507).
$100 (maximum amount allowable to charge)Vessels or a vessel/trailer combination valued over $1,500 (CH&NC §503)
You lost the title to the vehicle that you purchased
You did not receive a title, lien release, bill of sale or any documentation indicating that the vehicle has been sold to you
You have no knowledge of the registered owners and have no way to get a hold of them.
You are trying to bypass paying off a financed vehicle that have a security interest.
Note: Filing a mechanic’s lien for invalid reasons is a criminal offense. The only option for you is to conduct a diligent effort – please click here to learn more about a diligent effort.
Any lien holder can conduct their own lien, however, most lien holders hire a third-party service to conduct a lien on the vehicle, and this is because it is much easier & faster for a third-party service to get paid to process the lien. The following is a general order in which the lien sale is conducted:
Get a report from the state’s department of motor vehicles listing the following:
registered car owner
bank or other entity that financed vehicle
any other interested party that is listed on the report
individual or entity that dropped off, abandoned or stored the vehicle that are not listed on the report
Send the lien sale application form via certified letter to all interested parties:
via certified mail with return receipt requested
Send notification to the DMV via certified mail with return receipt requested
Wait 30 days and wait for a response. Getting no response is a good thing and allows you to proceed with the lien sale. However, if any of the interested parties oppose the lien sale, the lien sale will not be continued.
If the lien sale is opposed the course of action you take will depend on who opposes the lien sale. A few scenarios could occur:
Contact the vehicle owner or the owner’s agent and negotiate the resolution to the amount owed. Sometimes a final payment will satisfy the lien and resolve the matter
Contact the Credit union or entity that has a security interest in the vehicle and negotiate the resolution to the amount owed.
In cases where there is no resolution, you will have to take the interested party that is opposing the lien sale to a small claims court if the claim is less than a certain amount. In cases where the amount is higher, you may contact a law firm or local attorney to resolve this unpaid mechanic’s lien.
On the date of sale (the date the lien can legally sell the vehicle):
The lien holder must provide the buyer with the following:
Bill of sale from the lien holder to the new owner
the vehicle report that holds the lien information
a certified mail receipt for the letters that were sent
On the date of the sale, the sale is considered a public auction.
Certain vehicles have to be advertised on a local newspaper
If there is no buyer on the sale date the lien holder will retain possession and is considered the first buyer. (the lienholder can still sell the vehicle afterwards).
A new vehicle title
A new set of plates, set of stickers & registration card (received in person at the department of motor vehicle)
Click here to get step by step instructions on how to file a lien per state law: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/handbook/vehicle-industry-registration-procedures-manual-2/lien-sales-abandoned-abated-vehicles/
Click here to let our team process your Mechanic’s lien for you: https://www.quickautotags.com/services/lien-sales
If you have any more questions regarding a lien on the vehicle’s title please contact our team and we’ll answer your questions!
If you purchased a vehicle from out of state, or are bringing in your vehicle from another state - you must register it within 10 days. Let us take care of the process for you from beginning to end.
If you've lost the title to a vehicle you purchased and need help getting it into your name - we can help you fix this problem. These are called bonded titles & we can help you get these fixed for you.
Has your customer not paid you for your services? Has a vehicle been abandoned on your property? Has a customer disappeared on you with no way to get a hold of them? The lien sale process is the right solution for you!
If you’ve lost your car title, it can be a huge hassle. You may have to wait weeks or even months before getting the new one in the mail. It doesn’t have to be this way though – we make replacing your car title easy and fast so you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
If you are looking for DMV services, call (951) 409-9091 to get your suspended registration cleared. We offer the best service at reasonable rates!
Too late or too soon to file for a PNO? Affidavit of Non-Use is the right option for you
If you don’t plan on using your vehicle make sure to file a non-op on it as soon as possible.
Having your address updated on your registration card is very important
You can add your newly acquired vehicle for your PFR account through us.
Apply for Disabled Vet License Plates
If you have a vehicle that has fallen off of the DMV system our staff can help you re-introduce this vehicle into the DMV record
For vehicles with Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO) or out-of-state title
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Do you need to reassign a plate to your vehicle? Our staff can do this for you within minutes.
If your bank requires that they be on the title listed as a legal owner our office can handle this transaction for you quickly in our office.
Submitting an NRL as soon as you sell a car is absolutely imperative to avoid any legal issues or headaches. Our team can help you get this done ASAP.
When your transaction at the DMV is not complete, you will need a permit to operate your vehicle.