One of the great dangers of working in the automotive service industry is the fact that some people will take advantage of your skills, and then fail to pay you for your services or the parts you have put into their vehicle. Nothing is worse than seeing a customer’s car with several hundred dollars of your parts and labor, pulling out across the parking lot with the unpaid bill in your hand. This is why there are automobile mechanic liens.
Function of Automobile Mechanic Liens
An automobile mechanic’s lien is a legal claim placed against the owner of an automobile stating that you as the mechanic have an unpaid debt associated with that vehicle. Therefore, you have a monetary interest in what happens to that vehicle. The filing of a mechanic lien modifies the title of the vehicle in question. The owner cannot sell or transfer the vehicle without first satisfying the amount of the lien. This way, you receive your money if the client tries to sell the automobile or otherwise dispose of it without your knowledge.
Laws on Securing a Lien
To secure a lien in most states, all you have to do is file a written notice to the county where you made the repairs within 60 days of the work's completion. To file this notice you must contact the county recorder’s office and give a description of the work performed. Additionally, give a description of the vehicle. The county recorder will note the facts and notify the owner of the vehicle of the lien's filing. There may be a small paperwork filing fee to process the lien.
States with Lien Laws
Only 34 of the 50 states have laws regarding automobile mechanics liens. So, in some states, mechanics remain unprotected if a customer decides not to pay his bill. If you face a situation where you have performed service work on an automobile without payment, check your state and local laws or contact a lawyer for specific procedures in your state.