How to Find Out if an ATV Has a Lien on It

By Duncan Jenkins

All-Terrain Vehicles, or ATVs, are two- or four-wheeled recreation vehicles (three-wheelers are no longer legal). These vehicles must be registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles in your particular state. If you are looking to purchase a new or used ATV, you must first make sure the title to the ATV is free of outstanding liens. This is only possible if you're looking to purchase the vehicle.

Negotiate a purchase price on the ATV you wish to buy. Before handling the transfer of ownership on the title, you must first nail down an agreement for purchase--regardless of whether you're buying privately or through a dealership.

Obtain ATV financing if you cannot pay the full price of the vehicle. While it's not required to have solid financing (an approved loan) before going through the Department of Motor Vehicles, it will save you any hassles down the road (if your loan application is rejected, for example).

Ask to see the title on the ATV if the seller owns the vehicle outright. Make sure the title does not have any liens--vehicle or tax--on it. Make a photocopy of the title.

Schedule a meeting with the seller and the seller's lender if the ATV is still financed. You cannot look at the title without the authorization of both the seller and lender. Make sure the only lien on the title is the loan to which the seller is still obligated.

Schedule a closing at the seller's lender. Bring your certified check to pay for the ATV. If there will be a shortfall (your purchase price doesn't cover the seller's loan balance), make sure the seller is bringing a check to cover the difference. Complete the purchase with a notary present to notarize the Bill of Sale.

Pay off the loan balance with your check and the seller's shortfall check (if necessary). Have the seller's lender sign and notarize the Release of Lien. Bring the title and the Release of Lien to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV will remove the lien and transfer the ownership on the title from the seller to you.

About the Author

Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.