To search for liens against a vehicle, obtain the vehicle identification number and take it to the Department of Motor Vehicles to check the history of the car, or check the title and registration papers of the vehicle for outstanding liens. Online services such as VINSmart also allow individuals to search for car liens for a fee.
The paperwork of a car, including its registration and title documents, can show if there is a lien on the car, as well as on the current lien holder. Check the vehicle identification number of the car and the seller's identity documents, and compare them to the registration and title of the vehicle. If the documents show a lien, the seller should provide documents that show that the lien is completely paid.
An individual can search for liens by obtaining the vehicle's identification number, model year and make, and submitting a search on the website of the Department of Motor Vehicles. The service displays the date that the Department of Motor Vehicles issued title to the vehicle, the number of liens on the vehicle, and the names and addresses of the lienholders. If a car seller claims to have paid the lien, wait until he obtains the final paperwork to verify the status of the lien.