What is my recourse after having a car repossessed?

I don't think they were right.

If they repossessed it because of non-payment then you would have to pay the past due plus the charges that they want to tack on for repossession.

You should have been given a notice that the vehicle was repossessed and you can find information about requesting a court hearing.

The first thing you must do is find the original contract that you signed. Then put together all the cancelled checks or other proof of the payments you made. You will need to show copies of all of these to recover your car. If you can show proof that you made your payments then contact your state's attorney general.

What Happens if My Car is Repossessed?

In Texas, secured creditors are allowed to repossess their collateral (your vehicle) without a court order as long as they do not breach the peace.

Secured creditors (your finance company or bank) are not required to give advance notice of intent to repossess.

There is no set waiting period before a secured creditor can repossess their collateral; if you are one day late on a payment or have violated some other term of the contract, your vehicle may be repossessed.

After repossessing a vehicle, a secured creditor must notify you the car has been repossessed and allow you to retrieve any personal possessions left in your vehicle. You should not be charged for retrieving your property. Nor should you be required to sign a release.

A secured creditor must send a letter telling you that they have repossessed your vehicle; that the car will be sold at either a public or private sale; that the sale will be conducted on or after a certain date and you must be given an opportunity to redeem the vehicle prior to that date.

If the vehicle is sold, the sale price must be applied to the balance of the loan. You may be liable for any deficiency.

The secured creditor may accelerate (call the whole debt due) and require the entire balance of the loan be paid, including a repossession fee, before releasing the vehicle.

If the secured creditor does not send the letter telling of their disposition of the vehicle, they will be barred by Texas law from collecting any deficiency that may be due.

In addition, you may have a claim for statutory damages from the secured creditor.

If the secured creditor wants to keep your vehicle in satisfaction of the debt, they must send you, in writing, their proposal to do so. They must have your consent. You may object or deny their request, preferably in writing. If you refuse, then the secured creditor must send you the notice referred to above, about disposing of the vehicle.

Two tips: make sure the secured creditor has your current address. With regard to the notices described above, they are required only to send them and are not required to make sure you receive them. Second, make sure you keep a complete copy of all your paperwork in some place other than your vehicle; if your car is repossessed, you may not be able to retrieve your papers. You should also know that any agreements for extension of time to make payments which are not in writing will not be enforceable. If you make an agreement for late payments, be sure to send something in writing confirming your agreement.

If you think a secured creditor has not followed the law by repossessing your vehicle or in their disposition of the vehicle after disposition, please call me to discuss your legal options.

My Car Has Been Repossessed! How Do I Get It Back?

The bank may decide to repossess your car if you stop making payments on your auto loan. When this happens, you have to act quickly. State laws differ on the amount of time you have to get your car back after repossession, but the banks are required to hold the car for a “reasonable time” before auctioning it off to recuperate their investment.

How Long Do I Have To Get My Car Back?

There is no specific rule on how long the bank needs to wait before auction, but a typical period of time would be 1-2 weeks. At any point during this time, it is up to you to contact the lender and begin negotiating the return of your car. To begin this process, look at the notice of sale that the bank sends you and call the telephone number given to you.

The notice of sale should come within a few days of the vehicle repossession. State law differs on the exact timing, but the bank must notify you before putting your car up for auction.

How To Get My Repossessed Car Back

To get your car back after it has been repossessed, you may either redeem the vehicle by paying off the entire loan balance or reinstate the loan by paying off overdue amounts to make the loan current. Both of these options require you to pay additional costs and fees related to the repossession, as well.

If you have enough money on-hand to reinstate the loan, you need to contact your lender as quickly as possible to get the process started. If you don’t have enough money on-hand to reinstate the loan, there is one other option: bidding on your car at auction.

After a “reasonable time” period elapses, your lender will put the car up for auction. If you wish to get your car back, you can bid for it at the auction, but you will be bidding against other potential buyers, making it a risky endeavor.

When To Fight Car Repossession in Court

There are legal options available to vehicle owners who have had their cars repossessed . For instance, if you find a procedural fault in the way that your lender recuperated the car or feel like your rights have been violated, you may be able to take the fight to court and get your car back that way.

Examples of situations where you a consumer lawyer may be able to help you include:

  • If your property was damaged during repossession
  • If the lender repossessed property that wasn’t part of the agreement (items left inside the car, for instance)
  • If the lender used aggressive tactics to repossess the vehicle
  • If the car goes to auction and sells for far less than its market value
  • If you declared bankruptcy before repossession

Whatever the case is, you can be sure that the means to get your car back exist. Start the process by opening up communication with your lender and finding out if you can find common ground on making your payments.

My Car Was Repossessed Can I Get It Back

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The Choices We Make (or, What I Learned from Getting My Car Repossessed)

When I was in college, my car got repossessed. As in, one minute I had a car and the next minute I didn’t.

What had happened was . . . my mom had been paying my car note and, unbeknownst to me, had fallen on hard times and stopped making the payments. (This was about 10 years ago, way before she got a fancy MBA degree and her own business.)

Anyway, one weekend I went to visit mom and the repo man came and got my beautiful blue Toyota Corolla right from the parking lot of her building.

At the time, it was devastating. Embarassing, even.

I had been saving up for a study abroad trip to Greece led by my poetry professor and mentor. My grandfather had also given me some money to help me travel there. I was already working three jobs to pay for my off-campus apartment and all my other expenses. I could not afford to get a new car AND still be able to pay for the trip to Greece.

I remember taking out all the savings I had at the time – about $3,000 – to buy a beat-up old red Saturn to replace my beloved Toyota. I went to the bank to get it all in cash, which is what the seller had asked for in the classified ad.

I handed over all those hundred dollar bills in quiet resignation, wondering if having my own ride was worth the pain of not being able to visit one of my dream destinations. I also wondered if I would ever get that chance again.

To this day, I wish I had gone to Greece instead of buying that damn car.

The thing is, I could’ve made do without a car. My fellow students were doing it everyday. They were the ones bumming rides off of me! I could’ve learned to take the bus, used the university shuttle, or rode with friends.

But somehow, I got it into my head that my only choice was to replace the car that had been taken from me. I thought I needed my own car to be OK, to be able to get to all of my jobs and not have to depend on other means.

That is just one (of many) choices in my life that I wish I had approached differently. I suspect that the way I am choosing to live now (and my plan to travel abroad later this year) is being subconsciously influenced by the perceived mistake I made in the past of placing more value on things vs. experiences.

You probably have your own story like this. Maybe not of your car getting repossessed, but of a choice you made in the past that you would likely do-over if you got the chance. Maybe you think about it every once in a while (or all the time) – how your life would be different if you had just taken that other fork in the road.

But of course, the only thing that matters is the way you choose to live your life now.

The choices we made in the past are part of our history but the choices we make now will be part of our future.