Technically, if a creditor gets a judgment against you, they can levy on this type of asset. However, it is highly unlikely that this will happen. Getting a judgment takes a while, courts are slow and there are delays, it is also costly to go get a judgment because they need an attorney to do so. Even if they do go to the trouble to get a judgment, you are correct in that there is an exemption in California for a motor vehicle, which is about $1,700. You'd have to carefully fill out the claim of exemption forms from the Sheriff's office and request a court hearing to get the judge to rule on your exemption, but it is available if you were to go to the trouble of doing it. Good luck.
Take into account that if a creditor obtains a judgement they must still obtain a writ of execution and then, after the writ of execution, you would have a window of time to file the exemption claim with the court.
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