Lien placed on vehicle despite loan payoff

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- It's called procrastination-- a common human condition that causes us to put off what we rather not do. Some 25 years later, procrastinating has come back to haunt a South San Francisco man

Ricky Ruano's 1993 Saturn has a body only a mom and dad would love. With its faded paint job and moldy looking interior, this car isn't likely to win any contests.

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But to Ruano and his wife of 29 years, it was a thing of beauty.

"Because it was our first new car together, it would have been nice to keep," said Ricky.

But a storm last year left an inch of rain in the vehicle. It's also been in a recent accident. Not to mention, the car being as old as it is, is a big polluter.

Ruano reluctantly decided to sell the vehicle under the Bay Area Air Quality Management's Vehicle Buy Back program.

The program, however, refused to take his car.

"There was a lien on the vehicle that I never took the time to take care of in the past," he admitted.

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Ruano doesn't know why there's a lien on his car. He paid it off in 1994 and thought everything was free and clear.

In fact, despite the lien, nobody has ever brought it up to him.

"I've never been hassled. I guess just as long as we pay for the registration of the car, DMV was happy," Ruano said.

Before he could qualify for the buyback program, he had to get rid of it. That wouldn't be easy since the credit union that gave him his car loan had shut down years ago.

To prove the credit union no longer existed, the DMV asked him to send a "lien satisfied form" to the credit union via certified mail.

Then he would have to wait for the letter to be returned to sender and send that proof off to the DMV.

A month later, the DMV requested more forms and documentation along with a $37 fee.

The DMV a month later rejected his documentation.

'"We only take original copies of the insurance bond, we don't take copies,' Ruano recalls the DMV saying. "So they sent everything back to me."

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That sent his blood pressure to a boiling point. Seeing that, his boss suggested he contacted 7 On Your Side-- so he did.

We contacted the DMV and things moved quickly.

"I've been going through this for seven months and now I got everything taken care of in two week period," an amazed Ruano said.

The DMV suggests after you pay off the loan to check your new registration card. It should show the removal of the prior legal owner.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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