What Happens If Your Car Is Repossessed?
It’s every car owner’s nightmare. One day while you are at work, you helplessly watch as a tow truck
hooks up your car and drives it away. Not only is it embarrassing, but it puts you in an uncomfortable position—you no longer have a car to
get you to the places you need to go. Maybe you had some major medical expense that caused you to be late with your payments, or perhaps it
was just bad money management, but either way, you need to understand what rights you now have. Read the following information to help you
better understand what steps you need to take now...continued below
It’s much easier to prevent a repossession than it is to reverse one. It seems that once the repossession is in process,
it begins to take on a life of its own and it’s almost impossible to stop. On the other hand, most lenders will be willing to work with you
for a short amount of time if you are having problems making your payments. If you find yourself in this situation, call your lender and
explain the circumstances that are preventing you from making your payments on time. They may allow you a short grace period, or may even
create a new payment schedule that you can stick to. (If they do this, be sure to get it in writing!)
If the lender simply won’t work for you, and you know that repossession is just around the corner, then you may consider
turning in the car on your own. Why? Because if your car is repossessed, you will not only be responsible for the balance due after
it’s sold, (more on this in a moment), but also the costs involved in the repossession, such as towing and manpower.
If you default on your loan, the lender will have the right to come and haul your car away. Depending on the state you
live in, they may or may not be able to come on your property to do so, without advanced notice. They are not allowed to create a “breach
of peace,” while repossessing your car. In other words, they can’t make a big scene and let everyone around you know that they’re taking
your car because you didn’t make the payments! If you have personal belongings in the car, the lender will likely have to return them to
you in good shape, or reimburse you for them should they disappear. (Again, the laws vary per state, so be sure to find out what they are
in your state.)
Once the lender has your car, they will likely try to sell it in order to recoup at least some of the loan balance. By
law, they will have to inform you when and where your car will be sold, and allow you the opportunity to buy it back. To do so, you will
have to pay the entire balance due, plus any expenses associated with the repossession process.
If you feel that the car wasn’t sold responsibly, you have a right to dispute it. In other words, if you feel that the
lender didn’t try to get an honest price for the car, you should talk to an attorney about your options.
When the lender sells your car, you will be responsible for the difference between the loan balance and what the car was sold
for. For example, if your loan balance was $10,000 and the car sold for $6,000, you would still owe $4,000 to the lender.
The key here is to keep careful record of the entire repossession process. When you are in front of a judge being sued
for the deficiency amount, it will be your only chance to dispute the lender’s claim that you still owe them money. If you can prove that
they acted wrongly in either the act of repossession, or while selling your car, the judge may dismiss that balance.