Can A Mechanic Get A Title For A Car?

  • 4 min read

Are you a licensed mechanic looking to get a title for a car that was left behind by its owner? If so, you may be eligible to file a mechanic’s lien to get a title. However, it’s not as straightforward as filing a mechanic’s lien and getting a title. How can a mechanic get a title for a car?

What is a mechanic’s lien?

A mechanic’s lien is a legal right that attaches to real property (in this case, the property being the vehicle) and protects mechanics who have done work on a car. Mechanics are able to file liens against cars after they have performed repairs/repairs on them because they have been damaged by the owner. The purpose of this law is to prevent mechanics from having their work go unpaid by people who abandon their cars before paying for repairs.

How does the mechanic’s lien process work?

The mechanic’s lien process is a legal process available in every state. Once all filings and contacts have been completed, the final steps of the process include selling the vehicle at a public auction. It is at this point that the mechanic can also bid on the vehicle, purchase it, and get a new title. As an example, take a look at how to get a mechanic’s lien in Kentucky.

Kentucky mechanic’s lien example


In order to be eligible for a mechanic’s lien in Kentucky, a vehicle or vessel must be in the possession of a person engaged in the business of selling, repairing, or furnishing parts for vehicles and the owner of that vehicle owes that person charges for repairs, labor, or supplies for more than 30 days. Once the vehicle or vessel has met this criterion, it may be sold at auction in order to pay for the accrued charges.

Contact and public notice

Before the sale can proceed, you must make all reasonable attempts to contact the registered owner and any security interests such as lienholders. This information must come from a title search to ensure the proper parties are contacted according to the DMV’s records. This contact must be made through certified mail to notify the owner and lienholder of the proposed sale. This initial notice of sale must be sent at least ten days prior to the proposed sale date. Be sure to keep all certified mail receipts as they will be needed when applying for a title.

In addition to the notice, you must also advertise the sale in the local newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks. The advertisement must include the year, make, model, VIN, name of the owner(s), name of the lienholder(s), and the name, address, and phone number of your automotive shop.

Public auction

Once all notification requirements have been completed, you can proceed with the sale. The sale may be made to an outside buyer, or your shop may also bid on the vehicle. In compliance with Kentucky statutes above (KRS.376.270, KRS 376.280, and KRS 424.130), the purchaser of a vehicle sold under a mechanic’s lien must provide the following documents when applying for a vehicle title:

  • Affidavit of Motor Vehicle Sale (TC96-159) completed by the seller
  • Bill of sale from the seller on the autobody shop’s letterhead (KRS 186.200)
  • Kentucky Application for Title and Registration (TC96-182)
  • Affidavit of newspaper advertisement publication & copy of the advertisement
  • All certified mail receipts (green or white slip) and the return receipt (green slip) from the owner(s) and the lienholder(s)
  • Sheriff’s inspection if the vehicle was last registered outside of Kentucky

The mechanic’s lien process is a very powerful legal tool for licensed mechanics to recoup their losses when a bill goes unpaid. A mechanic can, in fact, get a title for a car, but they must follow the steps of the process and purchase it from the public auction as anyone else would. The benefits of filing a mechanic’s lien are immense for mechanics. Before filing, make sure you know your state’s process so you can get the payday or the car you’ve been waiting for.

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