When you borrow money to buy a car, you should know that:
- The lender can repossess if you miss a payment or for any default (a violation of the contract).
- The lender can repossess without advance notice.
- After repossession, the lender might be able to accelerate, meaning the lender can require the borrower to pay off the entire balance of the loan in order for the borrower to get the vehicle back.
- The lender can sell the vehicle at auction.
- The lender might be able to sue the borrower for the deficiency if it sells the car for less than the borrower owes. This is true even in voluntary repossessions.
- The lender cannot commit a “breach of the peace,” for example, breaking into a home or physically threatening someone, in the course of a repossession.
- If you know you’re going to be late with a payment, talk to the lender to try to work things out. If the lender agrees to a delay or to modify the contract, be sure you get the agreement in writing. Some states have laws that give consumers additional rights. Contact your state or local consumer protection office for more information.