lientitles logo

Why Was My Mechanics Lien Title Rejected?

  • 5 min read

Did you try to file for a mechanic’s lien on a vehicle, but it was rejected by the DMV and sent back? This is a common issue. We receive around a hundred calls a day from automotive facilities, auctions, dealers, towing companies, and repair shops that have filed for a mechanic’s lien and had it rejected.  

Why does this happen?

Well, more than half of the applications for mechanic’s liens get sent back, and here’s why. A mechanic’s lien is a process licensed automotive facilities can use to obtain a vehicle’s title when the owner fails to pay the bill. However, many mechanic shops will file a fake mechanic’s lien to help their friends obtain a car title or charge a few hundred bucks to solve a title problem.

As a result, titling authorities in every state are aware of the prevalence of fake mechanic liens and scrutinize these applications carefully. Even if you submit a correct application, they may still send it back, claiming it is incorrect, simply to deter you from submitting a fake mechanic’s lien. If you are a licensed and legitimate mechanic shop, and you are filing a mechanic’s lien for a car that was brought to your shop, and you have a repair order assigned for the work that you have done, then if it’s correct, you can resend it, and it will probably go through the second time.

What are other reasons why your application could get rejected? 

Well, in almost every state, there is a time limit for filing a mechanic’s lien. You cannot wait for years to file it later. Instead, you must file it within a certain period of time, which varies from state to state. It could be six months, 12 months, 18 months, or two years, depending on your location.

Moreover, in most states, you cannot just arbitrarily claim that you have worked on a car. You must have the approval to do the work and a signed request to do the work, along with a quote and acceptance of the quote. If you do not have these documents, your application might get rejected.

To file for a mechanic’s lien, you must send out notices to the lien holder and the owner via certified mail, put it in the newspaper, and conduct an auction. There is a series of hoops that you must jump through, and if you do not follow any of them correctly or do not allow the right amount of time, you will be out of luck. For example, you may encounter difficulties if you send out certified mail but do not wait for 30 days before proceeding to the next step. Or, if you send certified mail and use the address from the repair order or the glove compartment, it might get sent back because you should obtain a printout from the titling authority or the DMV showing the correct address to which you must send the notices. If you have not requested this printout from the DMV, they will reject your application.

Therefore, expect that more than half the time, if you file for a mechanic’s lien, it will get rejected.

Mechanic’s lien alternative processes

Instead of a mechanic’s lien, you should consider a civil lien, which is also known as a magistrate title or a court order title. The civil lien process bypasses the DMV’s requirements. With a mechanic’s lien, you must meet specific criteria to obtain a title from the DMV, and if you fail to meet any of these criteria, you will be out of luck. However, the court has much more leeway in this regard. The magistrate, court clerk, or other civil authority can give you some leeway and may say, “Well, you did all the right things, so here’s your paperwork.” Therefore, we recommend starting with the civil lien process first.

However, the court might suggest you try the mechanic’s lien process first. If that does not work, you can return to the court for assistance.

We recommend starting with the civil lien process first, as it is a more direct route and goes over the head of the DMV. Additionally, it is less likely to get rejected. The only time we see it get rejected is if it is clear that you do not deserve the car, such as if it is stolen, if someone else has a claim to it, if you are not in possession of it, or if there is something fishy going on. In such cases, you will not get a title even if you try to obtain one through the court.

The court is there to assist you if you have difficult title problems. Therefore, look at the court-ordered title or civil lien title (whichever it is called in your jurisdiction) as an alternative to a mechanic’s lien. If your mechanic’s lien has been rejected, turn right around and explore the civil lien process, as it may solve your problem. In fact, in the future, you might prefer to use the civil lien process exclusively. Many of our clients come to us to file a mechanic’s lien, but once we discuss the civil lien process with them, they wonder why everyone doesn’t use it instead. It is a more powerful and effective process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *