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File A Lien Against A Vehicle For A Title

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to claim a vehicle due to repairs or storage, it’s essential to explore the available avenues. Two common options for claiming a vehicle are through a mechanics lien or a civil lien. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the differences, pros, and cons of both, helping you make an informed decision based on your specific circumstances.

1. Mechanics Lien: A Brief Overview

A mechanics lien is a legal tool utilized by automotive businesses to recover funds owed for services such as repairs, storage, and towing. While the process varies between states, it typically requires the automotive facility to be licensed. However, we’ll explore a scenario in Washington state where licensing may not be mandatory.

Requirements for Mechanics Lien:

  • License Requirements: In most states, a licensed automotive facility is necessary to execute a mechanics lien.
  • Filing with County Auditor: File a certified copy of the lien with the County Auditor’s recording office.
  • Certified Letters to Owners: Send certified letters to all owners of record, notifying them of the lien.
  • Affidavit of Service: Complete an affidavit of service by mail, attesting to the correctness of the submitted information.

Limitations of Mechanics Lien:

  • DMV Dependency: The mechanics lien process solely operates through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If the DMV faces restrictions in issuing a title, the mechanics lien process may fail.

2. Civil Lien: A Powerful Alternative

A civil lien, also known as a court order title or magistrate title, is a potent alternative to the mechanics lien. It elevates the process beyond the DMV, involving a higher authority, often a court, which can compel the DMV to issue the title.

Civil Lien Advantages:

  • DMV Independence: Unlike a mechanics lien, a civil lien bypasses DMV requirements, seeking intervention from the court.
  • Court Order Authority: The court issues a binding order directing the titling authority to grant the petitioner a motor vehicle certificate of title.
  • Overcoming DMV Limitations: If a mechanics lien fails due to DMV restrictions or denial, a civil lien provides a more assertive approach.

Filing for Civil Lien:

  • Petition to the Court: File a petition in the court of the relevant county, seeking a court order for a motor vehicle certificate of title.
  • Comprehensive Documentation: Attach a thorough affidavit, providing details on how possession of the vehicle was acquired, along with other necessary documentation.
  • Refusal from DMV: Include documentation of any refusal or denial from the DMV in the filing.

Court Order Outcome:

  • Judgment Entry: Upon approval, the court issues a judgment entry directing the DMV to issue a title for the motor vehicle.
  • Court’s Finding: The court finds that the petitioner has complied with requirements, and the evidence is sufficient to warrant a certificate of title.

Making the Right Choice

In the realm of vehicle title claims, choosing between a mechanics lien and a civil lien requires careful consideration. While a mechanics lien is a viable option, especially when DMV procedures can be adhered to, a civil lien provides an additional layer of authority. If faced with DMV limitations, a civil lien ensures that the court intervenes, offering a more decisive resolution.


It’s crucial to note that the information provided here is not legal advice. If you require legal assistance, consult with an attorney for guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Learn More:

For further insights, instructions, and services related to mechanics liens and civil liens, visit Our platform offers valuable resources to navigate the title claim process effectively. Whether you choose a mechanics lien or a civil lien, empower yourself with the right knowledge and procedures.

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