When an individual purchases a vehicle on credit, the creditor retains certain rights and an interest in that vehicle until it is paid off. If you fail to make monthly payments, the creditor may retake possession of your vehicle without notification. Vehicle repossession can occur up until the final payment is made.

Can a Creditor Seize My Car Immediately?

Normally, a creditor can seize your car as soon as you fail to make a payment. However, there are exceptions where a creditor may not be able to repossess the car right away, generally depending on the contract that was signed between the creditor and the car owner. For example, if a creditor has promised to accept late payments, they cannot seize your car immediately without giving you a chance to make a late payment that they promised to accept. Furthermore, a creditor cannot take your car by force because it would constitute a breach of peace, which is illegal. It is important to keep in mind, though, that creditors have no obligation to inform the vehicle owner of its intention to repossess the car.

Do I Have the Right to Sell My Car?

A creditor must notify you about the sale of a car. In addition, you have the right to have your car sold. If the vehicle is worth more than you paid, it may be worth it to have the car sold because you can gain a profit from the sale.

Should I Talk with My Creditor?

Talking with your creditor is an important step because creditors have an incentive to allow car owners to make payments. Creditors might take the following steps:

  • Agreeing to accept late payments
  • Allowing the modification of your contract by making the payment schedule more reasonable for your situation

What Should I Do If the Sale of My Car Does Not Satisfy the Debt?

Frequently, many car sales do not satisfy the debt required. This is called a deficiency, and the creditor still has the right to file a suit for the money still owed. It is imperative that if you owe deficiency payments, you address it immediately because a judgment in court could leave your other assets vulnerable to creditors.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

An experienced attorney can help you to determine what rights and liabilities you may have with regards to vehicle repossession. In addition, an attorney can guide you through the process of selling or repurchasing your car. If you owe a deficiency payment and are required to appear in court, an attorney can also assist you in that process.