Risks associated with car liens

Understanding car liens

A car lien is a lender’s claim for repayment that they register against a car or other type of motor vehicle. Lenders have the right to place a lien on your car. Other companies like garages also have that right. It’s called a ‘’mechanic’s lien’’.

Liens stay registered on your car until you’ve paid your debt in full. A car may have more than one lien on it.

Checking for car liens

Registered car dealerships must ensure that used cars don’t have liens before selling them.

Before you buy a used car, make sure there isn’t a lien on it. If you find a lien, you must have it removed before registering the car.

Checking for car liens in your province or territory

You may search for a lien on a used car through personal property security searches. You may need to pay a fee to use these services. You also need your vehicle identification number (VIN) to search for liens.

Check for car liens in your province or territory:

Keep in mind that a car may have a lien in more than one province or territory.

You may also check for car liens by:

Vehicle history reports reveal important information about a car’s history. They include a detailed lien search across all provinces and territories. They may also include information on accidents, damages, open recalls, service history and registration status.

In some provinces and territories, private sellers must provide information about existing liens. They must do so before they transfer the car ownership to you.

Removing a lien

If the car you’re interested in buying has a lien on it, make sure the seller removes it.

You may do so by:

Filing a complaint about a registered car dealership

Registered car dealerships must provide you with a full vehicle history. If you have a complaint about a car you purchased from a dealer, contact your provincial or territorial Consumer Affairs office.

Find your provincial or territorial Consumer Affairs office.

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