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Frequently Asked Questions About Lien Sales

Who can do a lien sale?

Any vehicle repair shop (with a BAR license #), or towing company, or "self-storage facility" who has possession of a vehicle that was abandoned at their property, and has a lien against the vehicle for unpaid storage fees, or unpaid service charges, and who obtains authorization from the CA DMV to process the lien sale.

How do I order a lien sale?

You can fill out the order form online, or print the order form for vehicles valued less than $4,000 or more than $4,000 or for self storage facilities and then fax or email it to us, or you can call us to give us the required information, and we'll fill out the order form for you.  We'll contact you after we have the required information to request payment from you with a Visa or Mastercard debit card, or we can send you a Paypal invoice if you request it. 

How long does it take to complete a lien sale?

Lien sales for vehicles valued less than $4,000 take approximately 35 to 45 days.

Lien sales for vehicles valued more than $4,000 or for self storage facilities take approximately 90 to 150 days.

Can I do a lien sale on a vehicle I acquired but for which I don't have ownership documents?

No. If you lost or never received the ownership documents (title, ownership certificate, pink-slip, salvage certificate, out of state title, etc.) of a vehicle that you acquired as a gift, purchased, inherited, traded or have a financial interest in, you cannot do a lien sale. If that is the case, contact us so we can help you register the vehicle in your name.

What is a lien sale?

A car lien sale is the process by which the lien holder notifies all  interested parties that a vehicle may be sold if a debt is not paid off by the lien sale date.  On the date of the lien sale, the lien holder sells the vehicle to the highest bidder.  If there are no buyers at the lien sale, the lien holder takes possession of the vehicle.


What is a lien holder?

The person or company who has the legal right to hold the property of another is called a lien holder.  That person or company is said to have a “lien” against the property.

What is a lien sale packet?

It's a set of required documents which prove that the steps necessary to have a lien sale approved have been carried out. This packet of documents is mailed by us to the lien holder (the person/company requesting the lien sale) to carry out the lien sale of the vehicle in question.

What is a lien?

A lien is the legal right of a person or company to hold the property of another person or company until a debt owed by the owner of that property has been paid off.  The debt could arise because someone (a roommate, client, tenant or unknown person) abandoned a vehicle on your property, and no storage fees or rent is paid to have the vehicle occupy your property, or when someone did not pay for services performed on a vehicle left in your care.  For example: the case of a mechanic who is not paid for repairs or services performed on a vehicle.  Another example is when a tenant or roommate moves out of your property, and leaves a vehicle behind.

What information is needed to request a lien sale?

•Vehicle identification number: VIN

•License plate number

•Year, make and model of the vehicle (engine # if motorcycle or off highway vehicle)

•Date the vehicle came into your 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

Who sets the storage  rate  per day?

Storage rates are not regulated by the government.  That means that you set your own storage rate per day.  If you are a business, the storage rate per day should be posted in public view.

Who determines the value of the vehicle?

You, the lien holder, must determine the value of the vehicle before requesting a  lien sale.

What if the owner of the vehicle pays all or part of the lien amount (what they owe me)?

If you take money to pay for all or part of the lien, the lien sale is automatically cancelled.

Can my lien sale be opposed?

Yes.  The registered owner, the company financing the vehicle, or any  other interested party who might have a financial interest in the vehicle could oppose your lien sale.

What if someone opposes my lien sale?

If you are notified by our company or the CA DMV that your lien sale has been opposed, denied, or that the authorization has been cancelled, that means that you cannot continue with the lien sale any longer.  Even if you have received the lien sale packet in the mail.  You can request to continue with the lien sale only after obtaining and submitting one of the following to the DMV’s Lien Sale Unit:


• An original, signed copy of a release of interest from the person or entity who opposed the lien sale.  This form is included at the bottom of the denial letter you received from DMV.  This can also be a Statement of Facts (REG 256).


•You can take the opposer to court within 30 days from the date on the letter of denial from the DMV, and if you receive judgement in your favor, submit a copy of the court judgement, a copy of the plaintiff’s claim (you are the plaintiff), and a Statement of Facts, REG 256 form stating: “A court judgement 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 pursuant to Civil Code 3072(e), 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.


After the DMV receives any of these documents from you,  reviews them and finds them to be correct, they will send a letter allowing the sale to continue.

What if I sell the vehicle on the lien sale date or after?

The buyer receives the lien sale packet from you, and they are responsible for registering, and paying for the registration fees due for the vehicle.  We can help them with the registration of the vehicle.

What if I sell the vehicle for more than the amount of my lien?

Any excess amount received has to be sent to the DMV within 15 days of the sale date as indicated on the "Auction Sale and Proceeds" section of the Certification of Lien Sale form you received with the lien sale packet we mailed to you.

What if I keep the vehicle?

If you keep the vehicle, you are responsible for applying to register the vehicle, paying for the registration fees due, and sales tax on the amount of your lien amount for the vehicle.  We can also process the registration of the vehicle for you.

Will I automatically receive a title when I do a lien sale?

Not automatically.  You first get the lien sale packet.  These are your ownership documents, and either you, if you want to keep the vehicle, or whoever buys the vehicle from you is responsible for applying to register the vehicle, paying for the registration fees due, and sales tax on the amount of your lien amount or sale price for the vehicle. We can also process the registration of the vehicle for you after the lien sale process has been finalized. 

Are past due registration fees waived by the CA DMV when a vehicle is bought at a lien sale?


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

Yes. The fee for reprinting, preparing, shipping and handling another set of the lien sale packet is listed on the main lien sale page.


Can I do a lien sale on a vehicle parked on the street/public property?

No, you must have possession of the vehicle at your property to be able to do a lien sale on any vehicle.


Can I do a lien sale for a vehicle located outside of California?

No. The vehicle must be located in California for you to do a lien sale based on CA lien sale laws.

Can the abandoned vehicle be moved to another location after I start the lien sale process?

No. If you do, that will cancel/invalidate the lien sale.

Do you offer legal advice?

No.  We are not attorneys and do not offer legal advice.  Any communication with our employees is not to be interpreted as legal advice, and information on our website is for informational purposes only.

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