My Car Was Repossessed What Are My Rights

Owning a car is often seen as a symbol of independence and mobility, but what happens when financial difficulties arise, and your car faces repossession?

Like I always say, repossession is not what you can wish even your worst enemy because of how sad it is. The idea of losing your car and not having a means of mobility is sad and depressing. Therefore, understanding your rights before, during, and after repossession is important to navigate the process more effectively.

My Car Was Repossessed What Are My Rights?

Your rights before, during, and after your car is repossessed are as follows:

1. Right to Notice

You have the right to receive a notice from the lender before the repossession occurs. This notice outlines the terms for bringing the loan current or surrendering the vehicle.

It is important to know the kind of notification you will get from your lender. If you fail to make your car payments, your lender will notify you of the deficiency encouraging you to pay to avoid repossession. They will tell you that failure to pay will prompt repossession.

However, they will never tell you when the car will be repossessed. The lender will contact a third party which is usually a repossession company to come repossess the car. The date and time the repo man will come will not be communicated to you because it is not part of your notification right?

2. Right to Cure

Some states provide a “right to cure,” which allows you a grace period to catch up on missed payments and prevent repossession.

During this time, you may have the opportunity to bring your loan current and retain ownership of the vehicle.

This right depends on your state of residence as well as the laws governing repossessions in your area. You can only exercise this right if it is feasible in your state of residence.

3. Right to No Breach of the Peace

Lenders and repo agents are prohibited from using force or engaging in threatening behavior during repossession. They cannot breach the peace, which includes actions such as breaking into a locked garage or using physical force against you before and during repossession.

For example, if the car that is up for repossession is parked inside your gated and locked garage, the repo man cannot break the locks or that garage to tow the car. Rather, he will get your permission and request you to open the locks so he can go with the car.

If you refuse to oblige to the request, the repo man would have to wait until the car is available so he can repo it without breaching the peace or breaking the locks.

If you leave the car parked in your locked garage and refuse to make it available for repossession, your lender can get a court order forcing you to make the car available for repossession. If you however refuse to obey the court order, you will be held in contempt of the court.

This is to say that, while you have the right of no breach of peace before and during repossession, you can’t purposely lock the car up in your private garage and expect your lender to forget about it. They will obtain a court order which will force you to make the car available for repossession.

4. Right to Property Inside the Vehicle

Personal belongings inside the repossessed vehicle still belong to you. Therefore, the lender or the repo agent is not allowed to keep or sell them.

It’s advisable to remove valuables before repossession to avoid any complications. But if your car was repossessed with your personal belongings inside it, you can contact the repo company or your lender on how to get them back. They don’t have any right to prevent you from getting the back.

If the repo company or your lender does not want to release your personal belongings inside your car, contact a lawyer and have him/her take up the case. Seeking legal advice is the first step to getting your belongings back if they refuse to give them back to you.

5. Right to Notice of Sale

After the repossession, the lender is legally obligated to provide you with a notice of sale. This document outlines essential details about the upcoming sale, including the date, time, and location.

Being informed about the sale allows you to make decisions about redeeming the vehicle or preparing for any deficiency.

Again, this might not be feasible in all jurisdictions. It can only work if the repossession laws of your jurisdiction permit it.

6. Right to Redeem The Repossessed Car

The right to redeem a repossessed car refers to the legal ability of the borrower to regain ownership of the vehicle by paying off the outstanding balance, along with any additional fees and charges associated with the repossession. This can be done before the sale of the car or within a specified period after repossession.

You should reach out to your lender as soon as possible after repossession to inquire about the outstanding balance and other fees associated with the repossession. The lender should provide you with a precise amount required to redeem the vehicle.

Gather the necessary funds needed to cover the outstanding balance and fees. Ensure that you have the exact amount required, as the lender is generally not obligated to accept partial payments during the redemption process.

Once you’ve redeemed the vehicle, confirm that ownership is transferred back to you. Ensure that the lender provides documentation reflecting the satisfaction of the loan and the release of their interest in the car.

Furthermore, redemption timelines vary by state and are often outlined in your loan agreement. Some states may allow you to redeem the vehicle shortly after repossession, while others provide a specific window of time before the lender can sell the car.

So the earlier you start the redemption process, the better the chances of getting your car back as soon as possible.

7. Deficiency Balance Rights

If the sale of the repossessed vehicle does not cover the outstanding balance on the loan, you may be responsible for a deficiency. The deficiency is the amount you still owe the lender.

However, state laws vary on whether lenders can pursue this balance, and some states limit or prohibit deficiency judgments.

If a deficiency exists, and the law permits it, the lender must provide you with a notice detailing the amount owed. You have the right to dispute discrepancies or negotiate a repayment plan for the deficiency balance.

You should carefully review the notice of deficiency to ensure accuracy. Check the calculations and verify that all the information provided is in accordance with your loan agreement and applicable state laws.

If you believe there are errors in the deficiency calculation or if you face challenges in paying the remaining balance, consider negotiating with the lender. Some lenders may be open to setting up a repayment plan or settling the deficiency for a reduced amount.

If you’re finding it difficult to understand everything about the deficiency balance rights, seek legal advice.

8. Right to Legal Counsel

While there is no specific right to legal counsel during the repossession process itself, you have the right to seek legal advice and representation if you believe your rights have been violated or if you are facing challenges related to the repossession of your vehicle.

A consumer rights attorney can help you understand your rights in the specific context of your situation. They can explain relevant state laws, your contractual rights, and courses of action.

If there are disputes with your lender or issues related to the repossession, the attorney will be the one to assist you in negotiating with the lender to resolve the disputes or explore alternative solutions.

Furthermore, the attorney can review the documentation related to your loan agreement, notices, and communications with the lender. They can identify any potential violations of your rights and advise you on the appropriate steps to take.

9. Right to Documentation and Communication

You have the right to document and Communicate with your lender before, during, and after repossession.

  • You should maintain a record of all your loan or lease payments in case there are disputes about missed or late payments.
  • Keep copies of all communication with your lender, including emails, letters, and notices.
  • If possible, document the repossession itself. Take photos or videos to record the condition of the vehicle and any interactions with the repo agent.
  • If you engage in phone conversations with your lender or repo agent, consider documenting the discussions.
  • Keep a copy of your loan or lease agreement and any other legal documents related to the repossessed car.
  • If you anticipate financial difficulties that may affect your ability to make payments, communicate with your lender early.
  • Ask your lender about available options if you’re struggling with payments. Some lenders may offer alternatives such as loan restructuring, deferment, or other arrangements.

Understanding these rights empowers you to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions before, during, and in the aftermath of a car repossession. It’s essential to be aware of the specific laws in your state, as they can vary, influencing the extent of your rights in this situation.

How to Protect Your Rights Before Repossession

To protect your rights before repossession, you need to:

  • Know Your Loan Agreement: You need to familiarize yourself with the terms of your loan or lease agreement to enable you to understand the conditions that may lead to repossession and any rights or remedies mentioned in the contract.
  • Communicate with Your Lender: If you’re facing financial difficulties, communicate with your lender early because your lender may be willing to work with you to find a solution, such as restructuring the loan or temporarily lowering payments.
  • Understand State Laws: Research and understand the repossession laws in your state. This includes any “right to cure” periods, notification requirements, and limitations on the repossession process. Knowing these laws will help you assert your rights.

How to Protect Your Rights During Repossession

To protect your rights during repossession, you need to:

  • Remain Calm and Cooperative: While it can be a stressful situation, try to remain calm and cooperative during the repossession process. Avoid confrontation, as repossession agents are prohibited from breaching the peace.
  • Do Not Resist: Resisting repossession can escalate the situation and may lead to legal consequences. It’s generally better to allow the repossession to proceed peacefully and address any concerns later through legal channels.
  • Document the Repossession: If possible, document the repossession process. Take photos or videos of the event, as well as the condition of the car and the items inside the car before it was towed. It will be valuable if there are disputes about damage or missing belongings.

How to Protect Your Rights After Repossession

To protect your rights after repossession, you need to:

Ensure to Receive a Notice of Sale

After repossession, the lender must provide you with a notice of sale. Ensure you receive this document, as it contains information about when and where the vehicle will be sold.

Review the Notice of Sale

Carefully review the notice of sale to confirm the accuracy of the details. Ensure it complies with your state’s laws, and be aware of your options, such as redeeming the vehicle or preparing for any potential deficiency.

Exercise Your Right to Redeem

If applicable in your state, consider exercising your right to redeem the vehicle by paying the outstanding balance and associated fees before the sale.

Address Deficiency Balance

If there is a deficiency balance after the sale, be aware of your rights regarding notification and dispute resolution. The lender must provide you with a notice of deficiency, and you have the right to address any discrepancies.

Negotiate Repayment Plans

If you are unable to pay the deficiency balance in full, inquire about negotiating a repayment plan with the lender. Your lender may be willing to work out a reasonable arrangement to settle the remaining balance.

Consult Legal Advice

If you believe your rights have been violated, or if you encounter difficulties in resolving issues with the lender, consult with a consumer rights attorney. They can provide guidance on your specific situation and help protect your rights.

Keep Records

Maintain thorough records of all communication with the lender, notices, and any documentation related to the repossession. These records can be crucial if you need to dispute actions or defend your rights in the future.

By taking these steps, you can actively protect your rights after repossession and work towards a resolution that aligns with your financial circumstances.

Don’t deceive yourself. If you don’t want the car anymore, you can just let it go. Redeeming the car means you still want to drive it. It’s up to you.


Facing a car repossession can be a challenging experience, but understanding your rights is essential for navigating the process. By being aware of the legal protections in place and taking proactive steps, you can work towards a resolution that minimizes the impact on your financial well-being. Remember, knowledge is a powerful tool when it comes to protecting your rights in challenging situations.