What Happens When Your Car Is Repossessed

  • Post category:Loans

When a car is repossessed, it is typically because the owner fell behind on their car payments. The auto loan company is then forced to take back their property. As scary and alarming as an auto loan company repossessing your car can be, it is essential to understand why it is happening and what you need to do. Even though the car company has taken your car from you, there are steps you can take to reverse what's been done. We've researched the topic extensively to answer all the questions that are probably swirling around in your head.

When your car is repossessed, it is eventually sold through an auction. It will also negatively affect your credit. On top of that, your car loan does not disappear. The price your car sells for in auction typically goes towards your loan balance (which is usually not close to what you owe). You will also owe all the costs associated with having to repossess your car. This all happens if you are not able to work out an agreement to get your car back after a repossession or if you do not contact them at all.

A collage of man auctioning repossessed car, What Happens When Your Car Is Repossessed

Keep reading below for details and information as we answer more questions about car repossession.

Can A Car Be Repossessed Without Notice?

Yes and no. Your car will not be repossessed without going into default first. Going into default means you have not paid your monthly payments for a priorly-agreed upon timeframe. When you miss a monthly payment, or you go into default, the auto loan company will send you notifications and phone calls to see why you are missing your payment or tell you that you are in default.

Once this has been done, they will come and repossess your car without warning. They can do this at any time and do not have to find you to let you know they are taking your car when they arrive.

How Does The Repo Man Find Your Car?

They are provided with all the information they need, such as your address, work address, phone numbers to references, social media, credit, etc. They will use all of this information to find you by driving past your house, work, or anywhere they might think you are. Once they can locate your car, they will take your vehicle when it is unattended.

Companies will even go as far as to persistently call you or people you're close to who's phone numbers they've found to find out where your car is. They will perform soft checks on your credit to see if they can get any information from there as well.

Can A Repo Man Come On My Property?

Yes. A repo company is allowed to come on your property and take your vehicle if it is sitting outside. They cannot, however, "disturb the peace." This means they cannot enter into anything such as your house or closed garage. They also cannot use aggressive tactics to take your car.

Do Police Get Involved In Repossession?

Police are not allowed to assist in the repossession of your car; however, they can be called by either party to assist in keeping the peace and ensure the safety of the situation for all people involved.

Is Hiding Your Car From The Repo Man Illegal?

It depends. In most states, it is not illegal to purposely hide your car from repossession. However, some states have different laws that make it illegal to hide your car from repossession. Make sure you check to see which states it is legal or illegal, so you know the laws in your state. However, we do not recommend purposely avoiding responsibility by hiding from a repossession company.

If you need more time to make payments, consider calling your auto loan company and trying to work something out to buy you some time. After all, they are the ones sending out the repo men. They have the control to give you some extra time. Talking it over with people is always better than trying to hide.

Can A Repo Man Move One Car To Get To Another?

No. They are not allowed to move another person's car to get to your car. This breaks the "breach of peace" rule they must follow. However, this law is not easily defined, so they may be able to find other ways to get around moving someone else's car, such as having a duplicate key. This allows them the ability to get in your vehicle and drive it away simply.

Can A Repo Man Drive On Your Lawn?

In most cases, no. The "breach of peace" rule indicates they cannot destroy or harm any of your property while repoing your vehicle. If driving across your yard destroys your grass, then you may be able to use it against them in a court case. This rule can still, however, be a gray area, and you could still lose the argument. If your yard is mostly dirt, then they could make the argument that they did not harm or unlawfully enter into anywhere they shouldn't have.

Making sure you have a considerable amount of proof is critical in situations like these.

Is Voluntary Surrender Better Than Repossession?

Slightly. Voluntary surrender may look better and be easier for all parties involved, but it still doesn't take away the ramifications. One may look better, but both are very negative.

However, all the costs involved with a repossession company taking your car will be nonexistent since they did not have to repossess your vehicle. So it will save you money to voluntarily surrender as opposed to having your car repoed.

Can You Get Your Car Back After A Repo?

Most of the time, yes. You can get your vehicle back in either two different ways: reinstatement or redemption. To reinstate your loan, you have to get caught up on all the work you're behind on. This means you need to pay all the late fees and monthly payments you've missed, including the costs to repo your car. This can be difficult as they may require it to be done quickly.

Redeeming your vehicle just means paying every payment owed on it so that you can own the vehicle outright. Doing this is the more challenging option as most people would not have gotten into the situation, to begin with, if they had been able to pay for the car in full.

Where Do Repossessed Cars Go?

Repossessed vehicles usually go to storage somewhere. They are kept there until they are sold at an auction. Generally, you owe all the fees associated with storing the vehicle, auction fees, etc.

Do You Still Have To Pay If Your Car Is Repossessed?

Yes. You still owe the balance of your loan, the fees associated with the repossession, your loan, and any costs accumulated after the repossession, such as storage and auction fees.

Once your vehicle sells at auction, part of that amount will be deducted from your loan balance. But you will still owe whatever is leftover on the loan.

What Happens To Your Credit When Your Car Is Repossessed?

A repossession will have an adverse impact on your credit score. You will still owe everything you owed before, plus your credit will have a bunch of soft inquiries if they were needed to locate you or something else. Having a car repossessed in general negatively impacts your credit score. Even voluntarily surrendering your vehicle is not enough to undo the negative impact on your credit score.

How Can I Fix My Credit After A Repossession?

Having a car repossessed impacts a credit score in a terrible way. It is impacted the entire time someone misses their monthly payments. This means that the repossession is not the only time someone's credit score is dinged. If your credit score is bad after a repossession, there is not much that can be done to reverse this problem. However, there are steps you can take to repair the damage that has already been done.

This repossession is going to stay on your credit for around seven years. In the meantime, repairing your credit is about all you can do. To do this, start by using a credit card but paying it off frequently. Do not use more than 1/3rd of your credit at one time. Be sure to make all your payments on time, as this is what hurts your credit to begin with. Lastly, be sure not to cosign on any loans.


All in all, repossession is never a circumstance anyone wants to be a part of. In the event, your car is repossessed, knowing your rights, what you can do, and what you should do is a vital part of navigating this tough time successfully. Make sure you know the laws in your state, as well as refer to this article to answer any questions you may have. Repossession can be a major pain, but it's not the end of the world. You can recover from this.

How many payments do you have to miss before your car gets repossessed? We've got the answer.

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