“Acquire the VIN number. Go to your state DMV site and see if they have a title checker feature. Pull a vehicle report.
Use a site such as CarFax, AutoCheck or CarProof to pull a vehicle report. While this option is not free, it will not only put your lien concerns to rest, it can also alert you to recalls associated with the vehicle as well as if the car has ever been in an accident. Note: Fees vary by site.
Visit the DMV. If your local DMV does not provide online access to titles, it is possible to visit their local office and request a title report.
Warning: Do not complete the purchase of a vehicle until you have a free and clear title to the vehicle. Even if the seller has proof via a lien release, until the DMV notates that on the title, you will not own the car free and clear. The hassle and fees of contacting the DMV to correct any errors on the title will fall to you.”