FAQ: I am buying a used car. How can I find out if it has a lien against it?

The MVD has a resource to assist you with one step of the used car buying adventure: Lien Motor Vehicle Check !

If you are in the market for a used car or you’re thinking of selling your car, there’s a new resource to help ensure there is not a lien on the car you’ve got your eye on.

Vehicles with liens are often sold without a lien listed on the title, this is because the vehicle was acquired prior to a lien being placed so the title the seller has is clean.  The lien will show up once the vehicle is sold and the new owner tries to title it in their name. The lien must be paid prior to the vehicle being titled in the new owners name.

Scroll to the bottom of this blog if you have purchased a vehicle with a lien.

What types of liens can be placed on a motor vehicle title? Liens fall into two general categories…

  • Financial liens will appear on the front of the title in the space marked, “Lienholders.” These liens are generally for a defined period of time and when paid/satisfied, the vehicle owner receives a “lien release.” The owner may take that lien release to an MVD or Authorized Third Party office to obtain a new title (or, the vehicle owner may give the buyer the signed and notarized title with a lien release from the lender).
  • Unresolved financial obligations can be added electronically and are not shown on the title as financial liens are. Unresolved financial obligation liens are not for a defined period of time and can be added or deleted at any time – think child support liens or court fines/fees (operation of law liens). These must be paid before the title can be transferred.

Anyone buying a used vehicle should visit the Lien Motor Vehicle Check prior to making the final sale, at this time it is $1.50 per search:   https://servicearizona.com/webapp/lienmvr/search?execution=e1s1

AZ MVD – Vehicle Lien FAQ’s https://servicearizona.com/applicationFAQ/lienmvr

You may be able to request a hearing from the Arizona Department of Transportation if you purchased a vehicle and later found out about a lien on it. The hearing officer will determine if you qualify to title the vehicle in your name without paying the previous owner’s lien. Below is how to request the hearing pursuant to Arizona Administrative Code (AAC) R17-1-502.

R17-1-502. Request for Hearing

Form for requesting a hearing http://www.azdot.gov/docs/default-source/mvd-forms-pubs/40-5009.pdf?sfvrsn=4

A. A petitioner or petitioner’s attorney shall file a request for a hearing:

1. By mail or hand delivery to the Executive Hearing Office’s street address:

Executive Hearing Office, Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division, 3737 N. 7th St., Suite 160, Phoenix, AZ 85014-5017;

2. By fax to (602) 241-1624; or

3. By e-mail to the Executive Hearing Office’s electronic mail address: hearingoffice@azdot.gov; and

4. Timeliness of filing is determined as of the date the Executive Hearing Office receives a request for hearing.

B. A request for hearing shall be submitted to the Executive Hearing Office within 15 days of the date of an agency action notice.

C. A request for a hearing shall include the petitioner’s name, mailing address, and telephone number.

Visit the Secretary of State’s website for further AAC’s regarding the administrative hearing process.


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