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How to Sell A Car with A Lien? All That You Need to Know 

How to Sell A Car with A Lien? All That You Need to Know 

If you're looking for how to sell a car with a lien, here's all you need to do:

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  • Understand your vehicle's worth 

  • Understand how much you still own the vehicle 

  • Select your best buyer 

  • Received multiple offers 

  • Check for lien transfer 

  • Have a conversation with the lienholder 

  • Be clear with the buyers 

Since automobiles are not very cheap, many people seek loans to buy their favorite vehicle. To ensure that people pay the loan back, a lien is usually placed on the car title preventing selling the vehicle till the money is paid off. 

When a lien is placed on the title, it indicates that you owe some money for this vehicle and don't own it completely. Thus, it might sound that you won't be able to sell the car at all. However, that's not the case, and some workarounds help you sell your car even if it has a lien placed.

While the process of selling a car with the lane is a little more complicated than selling your own car, it is not impossible. This article provides you with all you need to know about how to sell a car with a lien. It also highlights some of the tips and tricks to keep in mind to ensure a smooth process and eliminate any hassle. 

Can you sell your car if you owe money on it? 

Before we dive into the details about how to sell a car with a lien, let's step back and make sure that we are clear about selling vehicles that you owe money on. There is a very common misconception that if you owe money on a certain vehicle, you can't sell it because the lender holds the title and won't release it until they clear out the debt.

However, that's not the case. There are plenty of workarounds where you can sell your car to a new buyer and use the money to clear out the loan or the debt so he can obtain the title and transfer ownership

If you're looking forward to the easiest and simplest methods for selling a car where you owe money on ads, it's recommended that you reach out to dealerships. They understand how things go in terms of paperwork and can easily take care of the process without causing any trouble. 

How to sell a car with a lien? 

Some used vehicles are getting much easier nowadays, especially with the evolution of larger platforms that allow you to connect with thousands of customers every day. However, when you're trying to sell a car with a lien, things get a little more complicated and require a certain procedure to sell your car successfully and for the most money. 

Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind when selling a car with a lien

  • Understand your vehicle's worth 

The first thing you need to know is how much your vehicle is worth. There are plenty of available tools that could help you evaluate your car and provide you with rough estimates about the minimum and maximum value your vehicle can make around your area.

You can look at some of the common tools like Kelley Blue Book where it requires inputting basic information about your vehicle and immediately populates expected values. The nice thing about Kelley Blue Book is that it provides you with values for selling your car to a private buyer and will provide you with an estimate about the trade-in value. 

The one drawback about Kelley Blue Book is that it doesn't consider any major damages in your vehicle, and it's your own responsibility to subtract the price of fixing these damages on your own.

  • Understand how much you still own the vehicle 

Since you're selling a car with a lien, you don't want to rely on the last time you looked at the statement and the last number you saw. Instead, you must sit and do the math correctly by looking into the paperwork in detail to confirm how much exactly you oh on this vehicle. 

  • Select your best buyer 

While private buyers are usually recommended for purchasing any used vehicle because you'll make a lot of money, it's not recommended to sell a car with a lien to a private buyer. Instead, you are advised to sell your vehicle to dealerships.

Dealerships understand all the paperwork complications and usually have the money to cover the lien numbers and can't take care of all the hassle to handle these complex situations. Dealerships can reach out to certain agencies that could lend them the amount of money where they can't pay it off to the lienholder without getting you involved. 

  • Received multiple offers 

Yes, dealerships are the best option for selling a vehicle that has liens. However, this does not necessarily suggest that you must accept the first quote you'll receive from the dealership. Instead, it is recommended that you shop for multiple offers at least from three different dealerships.

Dealerships are known for underestimating the vehicles' prices, and if you're trying to sell a vehicle with liens, they might take advantage of you and never pay you the number you're looking for. In some scenarios, you might pay on top of your lien because the dealership did not offer a higher number of the amount you owe to the lender. 

  • Check for lien transfer 

If you're not convinced about selling your car to a dealership and you concern about being underpaid, you still can sell your car to a private buyer, but you want to make sure that he's clear and upfront about billing.

There are some scenarios where you can't even transfer the lien to the future buyer as long as they qualify to the lienholder's requirements. 

  • Have a conversation with the lienholder 

Sometimes the lienholder might not be a financing company. It could be and mechanic shop or a tolling company that you owe some money for. In that case, you might need to have a conversation with the company to ensure that they are satisfied with transferring the debts to the new buyer. You forgot the nice thing about deciding on selling your car to a dealership because they can take care of all this hassle without any problem.

  • Be clear with the buyers 

If you're selling your car to a private buyer, it's important to be upfront with the buyer and clarify that your vehicle has a lien. Sometimes if you did not clarify this at the beginning, you might lose the deal, and the buyers could walk away thinking that you're trying to trick them or scam them. 

Anyways, you and the buyer have to work together to transfer ownership. That might involve bringing in the lienholder to the conversation and ensuring that they are satisfied with transferring the debts or the loans to the news wire. Thus, it's better for you to be upfront with the fire to save yourself a lot of time and effort, even if it takes you longer to find the right buyer.

Who holds the title when there is a lien? 

Typically, when a lien is placed on your car, the title is owned by the lienholder. In other words, you are not the legal owner of the vehicle anymore, and once you resolve all the issues with a lienholder and pay off the debt, he will not release the title. Therefore, you will not sell the vehicle unless you have a clear conversation with the potential buyer.

It's most likely that private buyers will not accept your vehicle if it has a lien placed on it. Therefore, taking care of the lien is a must and can save you a lot of hassle if you would like to get the most money out of your vehicle. Otherwise, you can reach out to dealerships who usually underestimate your car and will not pay you the top dollars. Still, they can save all the hassle regarding old paperwork and dealing with the lienholders. 

What happens when you sell your car but still owe money? 

Usually, when you sell a car that you still owe money on, you must pay it back. In other words, say that you sold your car for $10,000 and you owe $4000 to a previous lender, you must pay this $4000 to the lender and get only $6000 out of this car.

In general, you will not be able to finalize the deal without paying the lender his money. Your vehicle's title will have a note saying that you also have money to another person, and the DMV office will not transfer ownership to the new buyer. Either way, you must clear your debts out and pay them off to the lender first before finalizing your deal. 

Frequently asked questions about how to sell a car with a lien: 

In this section, we will cover some of the very common questions that we usually receive about selling a car with a lien:

  • What is the lienholder mean? 

When you hear the term lienholder, it basically refers to the person holding the title against you because you all money for them. This could be a lender, a mechanic shop, a towing company, etc. 

  • How do I know if my car has a lien? 

If your car has a lien placed, you'll see this information on the car's title. The lien is a way for the lender to secure his money and ensure that you make your payments on time and never sold the vehicle without clearing out the payments. 

  • Is the lienholder the same as the owner? 

No, although the lienholder will have his name on your car's title, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's the owner. However, you, as the owner, won't be able to search your vehicle until the lien is removed, which means that you have to pay off all you owe to the lienholder to proceed. 

  • Can I remove the lienholder? 

As we indicated earlier, the lien is a place for security purposes. To remove the lienholder's name from the title, you have to ensure that the lienholder is satisfied by ensuring that you cleared out the remaining money you owe or convinced the lienholder to transfer the depths to the new buyer. You must provide approval to the local DMV office so they can remove the lien. 


Selling a car with a lien is not a very simple process, but it's not impossible. You can follow many workarounds to sell your car for the most money and prevent any hassle.

Usually, to sell a car with a lien, you need to understand the car's value, review how much you still owe on this car, decide on your buyer, received multiple offers, consider lien transfer, check for escrow service, have a conversation with the lienholder, and be clear with any potential buyer.

If you are still concerned about selling your vehicle through private buyers or dealerships, we can provide you with a hassle-free car selling process that doesn't involve more than quick, simple steps. By selling your car to Cash Cars Buyer, you'll get your car removed within one to three days only! 

Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and will provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States. 

Our process is very straightforward and doesn't take more than a couple of days to get your car removed safely and for the most money. 

All it takes you is to:

  • Describe your car’s type and condition
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  • Accept the quote 
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To learn more about our process and our teen, you can reach out to us by giving us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer.