Recovering Your Car After a Repo

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


, - June 29, 2021

Just because your car was towed away doesn't always mean it's too late to get it back. You have to hurry though! You only have until the vehicle sells to take care of any costs and claim your vehicle.

Options for Getting Your Vehicle Back

If you find yourself running after the repo man, cursing as your car is hauled away, take a breath. There's no use chasing down the tow truck, but you can take action right away. The first step is to call your lender and find out all the information you can about your repossession.

If you had personal belongings in the repo'd car, the recovery company is required to let you recover them, so be sure to find out who recovered your vehicle for the lender, and where it's being stored.

Your lender can also outline your choices for getting the vehicle back. There are typically a few options to consider after a repo:

Reinstatement – This allows you to make up all missed payments, plus additional fees, in one lump sum to get the vehicle back and continue your loan. This is a one-time deal though. If you fall behind again you can't use this option in the future. This is called the "right to cure the default,” but not everyone has it. In order for reinstatement to work for you, you must live in a state that allows it, or it must be listed as an option in your contract.

Redemption – Redemption means paying off your total auto loan balance, including all repossession, storage, and additional fees, to take ownership of the car. But, you may be hard-pressed to come up with the remaining balance of your loan if you were having trouble keeping up with payments. However, if your loan payoff amount is relatively low, or there's a lot of equity in your vehicle it may be worth considering and could work to your advantage.

Negotiate with your lender – In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with your lender in order to get the vehicle back and get out of your loan. One example of this would be if you have someone willing to buy the car privately for more than the dealer is likely to sell it for at auction. If this is the situation you find yourself in you may be able to get the vehicle back to sell, and pay off your loan with the profits.

Buying Your Car Back

If all else fails, you have the right to attend the auction of your vehicle and bid on its purchase. Lenders are required to alert you in a reasonable timeframe as to the date and time of the auction so that you can attend. If you're able to win the auction for a lower amount than you owe the lender, you're still responsible for making up the entire loan balance, called a deficiency balance.

If you're unable to win the auction, and the sale of the car doesn't cover what you owe, you still owe the lender any remaining money not paid by the sale, and typically still have to cover the costs incurred during the repo.

Not Able to Recover Your Vehicle?

If you find yourself in the midst of a repo situation and aren't able to get your car back, it may be time to consider a vehicle that's more affordable. This can be a little tougher with a repossession on your credit reports, especially if you had bad credit to begin with. This is where we come in at CarsDirect.

We know that bad credit and negative marks such as repossession can make it harder to get a car loan through traditional means. Since not all lenders work with bad credit borrowers, you may not know where to turn. Fortunately, you don't have to search when you work with us!

We've built a nationwide network of special finance dealerships all across the country that have subprime lenders available to work with people who have credit challenges. It's fast, free, and easy to get started – simply fill out our auto loan request form and we'll get to work locating a dealership in your area!

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


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