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How to Remove a Lien Holder From a Title at the California DMV

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A creditor can place a lien on a vehicle as a security interest to ensure payment of a debt before the car is sold and transferred to a new owner. In California and across the country, the most common liens are placed on titles by lenders that provide financing for the purchase of the car. Liens also can be placed by repair shops and impound yards if a vehicle owner fails to pay for work done on the car or for storage. Both types of lienholders must be paid in full before a car can be sold by the owner, but the process of removing the lien is different for each one.

The Electronic Lien and Title Program

In California, the title for a car that has been financed will be held by the lienholder until the principal, interest and all fees on the loan are paid in full. If the lender is a participant in the DMV’s voluntary Electronic Lien and Title program, …