Car titles will now show liens that prevent transfer

Beginning this week, paper car titles will now come with a warning that the title can't be transferred because of unpaid liens.

We've been hearing from consumers who bought cars only to find out later they couldn't get titles unless they paid the liens.

What is going to occur is that on any vehicle title that is printed starting on April 29 will have an advisory at the top "NONTRANSFERABLE" and a line at the bottom of the title "***WARNING *** THIS VEHICLE IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR TRANSFER. CONTACT ADOT LINK AT WWW.AZDOT.GOV TO ASK FOR MORE INFORMATION"

This advisory or warning will only appear if the title cannot be transferred to a new owner due to information contained in the motor vehicle record that indicates the title cannot be assigned to a new owner. Most likely it will be due to an operation of law lien (court or government ordered).

Only financial lien holder information will appear in the bottom section of the printed title just as before. The printed title will not contain the actual lien holder information if the restriction or nontransferable status was due to an operation of law lien, then only the advisory I noted above will be indicated on the title. 

So a prospective buyer should consider the warning in their decision to buy or not buy fully understanding at that point in time the title cannot be transferred into their name. Some action will be required to satisfy a mandate before the title can be reassigned or transferred.

The "operation of law" additionally will not show the lien purpose, just the warning noted above will appear.

The primary suggestion is that any prospective buyer should obtain the VIN number then visit any MVD office and a check will be performed of the motor vehicle record. If the person requesting the check is not the owner of record, they will only be advised the title cannot be transferred into their name if they attempted to do so. No other information from the file will be provided.

A prospective buyer could also request to see a printed copy of the vehicle title that has the authentication date shown on the printed attachment which indicates what date the title record was checked and the date the title was printed. Again if printed on or after April 29, the warning will appear if there are any liens.

Also beginning June 30, prospective buyers will be able to check that VIN number through and receive a response to indicate either lien free or not. Basically on June 30, the online service will be the same as what would be received by visiting an MVD office. Again, if the requestor is not the owner of record then no additional file information will be provided.

See our original story when we helped a first-time car buyer who bought his car and didn't know about a $4,400 lien.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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