How to get your car back
If you get behind on your car payments or don’t have auto insurance, the loan company can take your car. This is called vehicle repossession.
If your car is repossessed, you must act quickly to get it back.
What can I do if I am behind on my payments?
If you are having trouble making your monthly car payment:
Do they have to tell me they are going to take my car?
No. The loan company does not have to tell you in advance that they are going to take your car.
How do I get my car back?
First, make sure your vehicle was repossessed. Contact your local police department to check.
Second, call your finance company. You may have make up all the back payments or, sometimes, the entire loan balance. You also have to pay repossession and storage fees. You must prove that you have current insurance and a valid driver license.
How do I get back the things I left in the car?
Within 48 hours from the time they take your car, the repossession company must send you a list of the things in your car and tell you how to get them back. You will have to pay storage fees to the repossession agent. If you do not pick them up within 60 days, they can get rid of them.
What notices should I receive?
Within 60 days after they repossess the car and at least 15 days before your car is sold, the loan company must send you a document called Notice of Intent to Sell Vehicle with this information:
If you don’t take action and your car is sold, you have the right to ask your loan company in writing, how much they sold the car for, and how much it cost them to sell it.
Can they refuse to return my car?
The loan company can refuse to return your car, unless you pay the full balance, if any of the following has happened:
What else should I know?
If you return the vehicle to the dealer or the finance company because you cannot afford to make the payments or you no longer want the vehicle, this is called a voluntary repossession.
Whether the repossession was voluntary or not, you will be responsible for costs and fees under your contract. This will damage your credit score.
What happens after the vehicle is sold?
You may get a letter from the finance company with an itemized bill for what you may owe under the contract plus fees, with a credit for what the vehicle was sold for. You can ask for this itemized statement up to one year after the sale. The finance company has 45 days to send this to you.
What else can I do?
Call us as soon as possible to discuss your options. Sometimes we can help lower the amount due or arrange extensions.
Civil Code Sections 2983.3
Contact us for more information or speak with one of our counselors at (800) 593-8222. If you live outside of Southern California, call us at (213) 974-1452.
Updated Apr. 14, 2011
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