One consequence of not paying your auto loan on time is losing your vehicle to repossession. A lender may wait several months before initiating a repossession, or it may do so as soon as you miss one payment. Repossession, however, does not mean that your car is gone forever. The Federal Trade Commission notes that you have several options to reclaim your repossessed vehicle – provided you can pay what you owe. The process for reclaiming your car after repossession depends on your state of residence.
Read over your original loan contract. Look for a clause giving you a “right to reinstate.” If your loan contract provides you with this right, you need only pay off the car payments you missed, along with any late fees and repossession costs, to recover your lost vehicle.
Call your lender and explain that your car was repossessed and you would like to get it back. Ask how much you need to pay to recover the vehicle. If your state does not require lenders to provide consumers with the right to reinstate a vehicle after repossession, you will need to pay off the full outstanding loan balance – plus fees – before the lender will release your vehicle.
Visit the lender’s office and pay off the full amount you owe. After your reinstate the loan or pay it in full, your lender will return the vehicle to you.
Banks often sell repossessed cars at auction. If the bank sells the cars in a public auction, rather than an auction open only to car dealers, you can attend the auction and attempt to buy back your repossessed car.
If you cannot pay what you owe in person to recover your car, send it by overnight mail. Different states have various time frames during which you have the right to reinstate your loan or redeem your vehicle. These time periods are typically short.
If you do not recover your vehicle, the lender may sue you for the amount of your loan it was unable to recover through the vehicle’s sale.
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