What Does a Long Lien on a Vehicle Mean?

Longer car loans make more sense when you have uncertainty about future income.
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A lien is a legal claim of ownership against your personal property. When you buy a house or car, your lender places a contractual lien on your purchased property as collateral in case you don't meet your repayment obligations. When you pay off your loan balance, the lien is removed and you get outright ownership.

Vehicle Loan Basics

Cars are usually purchased with a vehicle loan. Banks and other types of lenders provide money for your purchase in exchange for your commitment to repay the loan with interest over a specific period of time. The repayment period varies, but you can usually select from loan terms as short as 24 months and as long as 72 months. Normally, the shorter your loan term, the lower your interest rate.

Long Lien Meaning

A long lien on your vehicle simply means that you have a longer-term loan and your lien will remain on the car title until the loan is paid off. Usually, when you have a lien on your vehicle, your lender holds the title and your state vehicle registration indicates the lien is in place. Loan terms are usually consider long at 60- to 72-month terms.


A longer loan term means you have more time to pay off your loan balance. When the loan is spread over a longer period, your monthly payments are usually lower as well. This makes it easier to keep up with the monthly payment obligations. You also have more control over how much you pay each month because you usually have the option of paying extra principal in months when you have extra money. This helps you pay down your balance more quickly.


One disadvantage of a longer loan term is that your lender holds the lien for a longer period of time. You could lose your vehicle to repossession at any time during the loan period if you don't make your monthly payments. Another drawback of a longer lien is that your interest rate is typically higher. This means that your monthly interest payments are higher and your total interest over the loan's life are greater. This means you will end up paying a lot more money on a 72-month loan than you would on a 24-month loan, for example.

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