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Mechanics lien? I have a small auto repair shop in Washington

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Mechanics lien? I have a small auto repair shop in Washington State. A customer brought his 05' Dodge P/U into my shop on 3/6/2013, requesting a lot of misc repairs. I inspected to truck, wrote an estimate, have initial written auth & all followup estimates have been auth via phone, which I have documented both date/time of auth to a final amount of $2500.00

The cust was supposed to bring in about $1000. w/i a couple weeks & then pay off on April 1st. I have not received any monies @ all to date, with continual excuses as to why not. I informed the customer I was starting storage charges, interest & finance fees, he agreed & said would still try to get some money for the repairs as soon as he could, again, to date, I have not received anything.

I found papers in his truck indicating he has a finance company (the Lien Holder) that he still owes approx $12000. to & has been keeping his payments up to them, even though he has not paid me. The current bill w/ storage & finance charges is now up to over $3000. with me.

I am wondering about filing a "mechanics--possessory Lien" on the vehicle for his repairs & storage & how that works w/ having a finance company involved that is the lienholder on the vehicle? I have been told in the past, & am under the impression that a mechanics possessory lien takes precedence over a lien holder, be it a bank or finance company, for the repairs made to a vehicle & that as long as I maintain POSSESSION of the vehicle that I have 1st right to recover & if the lienholder wants to regain possession of the vehicle, that they must "1st Pay off my bill for the charges" then may reclaim the vehicle for the registered owner???

I just need to know the details in a situation like this & the steps I must take to proceed from here to recover my monies for Authorized Parts & Services rendered?

Attorney William B. :

Dear Customer, a possessory lien does take precedence ("priority") over a security interest in Washington (see:

Attorney William B. :

The rules for creating a valid possessory lien for an auto repair are straightforward, the Washington State Attorney General's Office has created a site (for consumers, but it shows the duties and obligations for the mechanic as well) with the necessary information:

Attorney William B. :

As for procedure, I have located a post that lays out the steps to perfect your lien (sell the vehicle) under WA RCW 60.08.010 You can find the post here:


Thanx for the sites, I will check them out. But since I'm not a lawyer & I'm sure these regulations are not written in "LEGAL EASE" for the laymen to understand, can you @ least answer the part directly; relating to if the Mechanics Lien for services, takes precedence over a lienholders right as "1st person" in a situation like this?

Attorney William B. :

Yes, it does.

Attorney William B. :

(for your purposes, I would recommend focusing on the last link I posted, the article laying out the steps to sell the vehicle if you choose to do so the other two are statutes that provide the authority to do so).

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanx, I've read thru all the articles & RCW's you've linked, its prettey much answered all my questions, except doesn't go as far as to tell me "what about the Lien Holder?"


The customer owes me $3000.00 {@ this point}, but I've seen documents in his glovebox from the financier/lienholder that he is on time payments w/ them & owes them roughly $12k for the truck still!


So #1--if I do file this lien, do I notify just the Registered owner, or also notify the Legal owner/Lienholder as well?


#2-after, whatever, notification & filings, what happens to the monies the the customer owes to the Financier? Do I sell the truck for whaatever I can get for it, then pay myself what is owed, then give the balance to the Financier? Or would the financier simply loose all rights to the vehicle once I've completed a chattel lien & forfeit his interest? Or would the financier, upon notice of the truck to be sold, via Chattel lien, possibly want to pay my bill & recover the truck themselves?


#3-is there anyway for the Financier to legally repossess the vehicle from me w/o paying the customers bill here 1st?


#4-Is it possible for the Financier to Legally block my Chattel lien?, etc, etc

Dear Customer,

Your lien is first in priority to the lender. This means that you must be paid first from any sale of the property - they cannot unilaterally erase your claim.

#1: Yes, you must notify both the registered owner and the leinholder (if you have that information - check with the Department of Motor Vehicles).
#2: Once you sell the truck for a fair market value (a reasonable action price, this means you cannot "lowball" an auction, such as selling the truck only for your claim amount when you could easily have received much more with reasonable efforts), you are entitled to take both the entire amount of your lien, plus interest, and the costs of the sale (including any mailing, auction costs, and advertising). Once that amount is exhausted, you must send the remainder to the lienholder (if you know who that entity is - DMV), or to the owner of the vehicle.
#3: No. The lender cannot stop the sale without you first being compensated in full.
#4: No. Your lien is secure so long as you follow all of the appropriate steps as outlined in the links you reviewed.

The statutory scheme is set up to provide protection to mechanics and shops such as yourself, and the protection is very strong.
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