Getting Your Car Back After Repossession

Learn about your options to get your car back after it has been repossessed.

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You do have options to get your car, van, truck, or other vehicle back after it has been repossessed. Which option is best for you depends on how much money you have, your state's laws, your loan agreement, and the car loan lender's willingness to work with you.

(To learn more about when and how your car can be repossessed, see the articles in our Car Repossession topic area.)

Redemption

The most sure fire way to get the car back is to pay off the loan. This is called exercising your right of redemption. To redeem the loan, you must pay back the entire balance of the loan as well as certain fees and costs (such as repo and storage fees). You can redeem the car at any time prior to the private sale or auction. The bank is supposed to send you written notice that contains the information you need to redeem. If you haven't received that notice within five days of the repossession, contact the creditor right away to get the payoff amount and instructions for redemption. Your right of redemption ends when the car is sold.

Reinstatement (If Applicable)

If you don't have enough money to redeem, then another possible option is to reinstate the loan. With reinstatement you bring the loan current by making up all of the past due payments, including applicable fees and late charges, in one lump sum.

The right of reinstatement is only allowed in some (not all) states, or by the terms of your loan agreement. If you can and are able to reinstate, you should act quickly. Usually, you are allowed only a very short time after the repossession (sometimes 15 days) to reinstate the loan. If your right of reinstatement is based on the loan agreement, then the time period may be more or less, depending on what the agreement says.

See, Car Loan Redemption vs. Reinstatement for more details. 

Buy the Vehicle Back at the Auction

If the car is going to be sold at public auction (the bank is supposed to give you notice if it is), then you can attend the auction and bid on it yourself.

Talk to the Bank

If none of the above options are doable for you, don't rule out trying to negotiate an alternative arrangement with the creditor. For instance, if you owed three payments but only have enough funds to pay for two, you could negotiate a partial reinstatement and pay the rest of the past due payments later. You could also try to work out a new payment plan or even refinance the car loan. Talk to the bank and find out what it would agree to. (Of course, all of these options are more feasible if you try to negotiate them before your car is repossessed.)

If you have reason to believe that the bank violated your rights during the repossession, such as breaching the peace, you could use this as bargaining leverage to get the car back.

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