Vehicle Repossession : What you need to Know

Vehicle Repossession

If you’re like most people, you rely on your vehicle to get you where you need to go – and when you need to go – whether it’s to work, school, the grocery store, or the soccer field. But if you’re late with your car payments, or in some states, if you don’t have adequate auto insurance, your vehicle could be taken away from you.

To Do

If you know you’re going to be late with a car payment, contact your creditor right away. It’s easier to try to prevent a vehicle repossession than to dispute it later.

  • Many creditors will work with customers they believe will be able to pay, even if a little late.
  • You may be able to negotiate a revised schedule of payments.
  • If you can reach an agreement to change your original contract, get it in writing to avoid questions later.

If your vehicle is repossessed:

  • your creditor may decide to keep it as compensation for your debt or resell it in a public or private sale.
  • you may be able to buy back the vehicle by paying the full amount you owe (usually, that includes your past due payments and the entire remaining debt), in addition to the expenses connected with the repossession, like storage, preparation for sale, and attorney fees.
  • check with your state consumer protection agency. Some states have laws that allow you to “reinstate” your loan. This means you can reclaim your car by paying the amount you are behind on your loan, plus your creditor’s repossession expenses.
  • a creditor may not keep or sell any personal property found inside the vehicle.