Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bergingstruck_met_auto_%28tow_truck_with_car%29.jpgBy Frank Ling

Sometimes unforeseen circumstances come up that prevents people from making their car payments, especially during tough economic times. But whatever the reasons, if you car is repossessed by the bank, you only have a very limited time to correct the situation.

Depending on what state you live in, you may have the option of reinstating the loan, which basically means you have made arrangements with the lender to let you catch up on your back payments plus additional fees and charges.

Legally speaking, if your car is repossessed, this means it will be auctioned off by the lender to recoup some of the money due to the default on the loan. You must be notified by the lender of their intent to sell, and you may have as little as 15 days to take action to get your car back.

You’ll Still Owe Money


Getting your car repossessed doesn’t mean you are free of any financial obligations to the lender. What usually happens is that the car will be auctioned off at a fraction of its price. If it was worth $10,000 for instance, and it sells for $5,000, you will be responsible for the “loss” or difference of the car’s original worth; in this case, $5,000.

But you’ll also be liable for any storage costs, towing charges, and processing that were incurred during the time the car was repossessed. So although your payment balance is $5,000 for the car, you’ll also have to pay for additional fees and services that may total up to $1,000 or more.

Refinance the Loan


After your car has been repossessed, you may be able to strike a deal with the lender and ask to refinance the loan. This may mean a lower interest rate to keep the payments more affordable, but it will also mean the loan will be stretched out over a longer period of time.

While this solution means you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan, it also means that you’ll have a car for transportation.

But before considering this option, you may want to take a self assessment and list the reasons why you originally fell behind on payments. If the car was beyond the reach of your financial means and you were struggling to keep up with car payments, taking out a second loan may just lead to repossession again.

Redeem the Loan


To exercise this option, you can redeem your car from repossession anytime before the car goes up for auction by paying off the entire loan balance, plus additional fees. The bank or lending institution will need to send you a notification on what the steps are to redeem your car, and how long you have to enact this.

Source: Nolo.com

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