Can I Sell My Car With Title And Lien Release? All You Need To Know

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By Mark Webber

Selling a car that still has a lien on it can be a bit more complex than a straightforward transaction, but with the right steps, it can be done smoothly. Before putting your car up for sale, it’s crucial to have the vehicle title and lien release in hand. These documents are essential for transferring ownership to the new buyer.

Gather Required Documents

Obtain the Vehicle Title

The vehicle title is proof of ownership and is needed to legally sell your car. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a duplicate title if you can’t find the original.

Obtain the Lien Release

A lien release is a document that shows the lender no longer has a claim on the car. This is crucial to reassure potential buyers that the car’s title is clear.

Check for Outstanding Loans

Contact the Lender

Reach out to your lender to get the exact payoff amount needed to clear the loan. This amount will determine how much you need to sell the car for to fully pay off the loan.

Review Loan Payoff Amount

Make sure to review the loan payoff amount provided by the lender to ensure accuracy. This amount will need to be settled before transferring ownership.

Advertise the Car for Sale

Detail the Vehicle

Before listing the car for sale, make sure it is clean and in good condition. Consider detailing the vehicle to make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Set an Asking Price

Research the market value of your car and set a competitive asking price. Be prepared to negotiate but also have a minimum price in mind that you are willing to accept.

Complete the Sale

Transfer Ownership

Once you have found a buyer, complete the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership. Make sure to sign over the title and provide the buyer with a bill of sale.

Provide Necessary Documentation

Hand over all relevant documents to the buyer, including the title, lien release, and any maintenance records you have. This will ensure a smooth transition of ownership.


Selling a car with a title and lien release is possible with proper preparation and documentation. By obtaining the necessary paperwork and following the steps outlined above, you can sell your car legally and efficiently.


Q: Can I sell my car if I can’t find the title?

A: It’s possible to sell your car without the original title, but you will need to obtain a duplicate title from the DMV before transferring ownership.

Q: How long does it take to receive a lien release?

A: The time it takes to receive a lien release can vary depending on the lender, but it typically takes a few weeks once the loan is fully paid off.

Q: Do I need to pay off the loan before selling the car?

A: Yes, you will need to pay off the loan in full before transferring ownership to the new buyer to ensure the title is clear.

Q: What if the payoff amount is higher than the selling price?

A: If the loan payoff amount is higher than the selling price, you will need to make up the difference to clear the loan before completing the sale.

Q: Can I sell a car with a lien on it?

A: Yes, you can sell a car with a lien on it, but you will need to pay off the loan and obtain a lien release before transferring ownership to the buyer.

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