You're free to drive your car as you please, customize it to your specifications, and it's you who pays for the vehicle's gasoline, but until you make the final payment to your auto lender, you don't own your car free and clear. The lender's lien against the vehicle gives it the right to repossess your car if you start missing payments. The lender then sells the car in an effort to minimize its losses. Losing your car to repossession, however, doesn't mean your dealings with the lender are over for good. If your lender has to repossess your car, it will charge you both repossession and towing charges. When a repossession becomes imminent, returning your vehicle to the bank yourself via a process known as voluntary repossession lowers the fees you'll face after the transaction is complete.
Call the bank that holds your auto loan. Explain that you can no longer afford the loan and would like to return the car voluntarily. Schedule a time and place to drop off the car.
Ask for a supervisor if you know you owe more on the loan than the car is worth. Ask the supervisor to reduce or waive any deficiency on the car in exchange for you returning the car voluntarily. The deficiency is the difference between the loan balance and the car's sale price. Not all banks will negotiate a vehicle's deficiency, even when you give the car back voluntarily, but some do.
Ask a loved one to follow you to the designated drop-off location in his vehicle. This provides you with a way home after returning your car to the bank.
Drop off your car as agreed. Give the lender the keys and registration paperwork. Sign any documents the lender presents noting that you relinquished the vehicle voluntarily.
Ask for a written statement from the bank proving that you returned the loan's collateral in lieu of paying off the loan. Put the documentation in a safe place. This receipt protects you in the event your lender makes an error and either claims you did not relinquish the car or that you owe repossession and towing fees.
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