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Can a mechanic’s lien be put on a car if the titled owner did not request or approve any repairs?

2 years ago

My 26 year old son had my husband’s (his stepfather’s) truck towed to a mechanic’s shop to get an estimate to repair the transmission. Over the phone the mechanic shop told my son that it would cost about $2,500 to fix it. The mechanic shop gave him a phone number to call to try to get a loan, if needed, for the repairs. I do not know if the two businesses are affiliated or not. Regardless, he applied via phone, but was rejected. After my husband and son discussed it further they concluded that since the truck is so old, a 1997 Ford F150, and not of much value they would hold off on the repairs so they could try to find an alternative such as a used transmission that the same or another mechanic could install. He has been looking for a used transmission to no avail while the truck stayed at the mechanic’s shop. Yesterday, my husband went to pick up the UNREPAIRED truck and the shop owner said that the truck now belonged to him because it was left there so long. He claims that he sent a certified letter regarding the truck, but no one in my household signed for a letter. The shop owner says that he has filed a mechanic’s lien and will NOW repair the truck and sell it, or we could buy the truck back from him for $2500. To me there are several major issues. First, no one received or signed any sort of written estimate or contract to fix it. Second, even if the mechanic claims that there was a verbal agreement between him and my son, my son is NOT the titled owner of the truck. So, how could a lien be put on it. Third, the shop owner admitted to my husband in person at the shop that now that he had a lien he WILL fix it and sell it. According to the law I researched, a lien can be placed only for actual work done, not work after a lien is filed. Furthermore, other claims such as storage fees (which were never disclosed or agreed to) are not considered repairs and cannot be included in the lien. The truck is so old and of such little value that no one would invest $2500 in a transmission for it. I guess that is why the mechanic says that he will NOW fix it and sell it after he has gotten the lien. We received no phone calls, no letters, no written docs of any sort (the mechanic claims he sent a certified letter, but no one in my house signed for it.)
How do I proceed?

Chief Legal Officer Levelset
90 reviews

While we try to focus on construction law question here, and the construction-type of mechanics lien rather than auto-mechanic’s liens, I’ll try to provide some information you may find helpful.

A general “mechanics lien” for repairs to a conveyance works pretty much like you outlined above. That is, the lien exists “for any repairs or improvements made or parts or fixtures furnished at the request of the owner, or the owner’s agent, in favor of the mechanic, contractor, founder, or machinist who makes . . . any repairs or puts thereon any improvements, fixtures, machinery, or materials . . .”

So, a general auto mechanics lien can only be claimed for work performed (at the request of the owner or the owner’s agent).

However, there is additionally a lien called a “Garagekeeper’s or towing firm’s lien.” This lien arises when a vehicle legally comes into the possession of the garagekeeper or towing firm and is retained in the possession of the garagekeeper or towing firm until all charges are paid. This particular lien does not require repairs to be performed on the vehicle, although there must be charges incurred and unpaid.

With either type of lien there are specific requirements that must be met by the party attempting to claim the lien and sell the vehicle. It would likely be a good idea to talk with a local attorney who could take a closer look at the particulars of the situation and help you pick a path forward to get your truck back.

Guest
Anonymous

here is my question. my neighbor hired me to repair his car, toyota echo. After i have fixed it and hand him the bill, he loses his job and cant pay me for services rendered. so he asks if i would take the vehicle in exchange of paying me. as with anything free i said yes. a week goes by and the neighbor hands me a letter from the finace co. it said that neighbor owes under a thousand. what can i do other than pay this financial co. which lien will fit?

Guest
Anonymous

Your neighbor is a piece of shit

Guest
Anonymous

I gave a mechanic 1800 down for parts on my old cj7 jeep. He never touched it for 6 months.He lied to me the entire time he had it. I have my jeep back but he won’t give my money back. Can I file a lein against him? If so, what kind? Should I call the attorney Gen office? I think he does this to another of people. He takes the parts he needs from your car to put in someone else’s without buying any parts…

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