How Many Days Late Must a Payment Be for a Car to Be Repossessed?

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The number of days that a payment can be late before a car is repossessed is usually stated on the loan documents. For instance, one agreement might state that the debtor is in default if the payment is one day late, whereas another may state that the debtor isn't in default if fewer than 30 days have passed.

There are some loan agreements that state that the debtor first has to receive a notice that he is behind on his payment before the car can be repossessed. In the event that a creditor has accepted late payments in the past without mentioning repossession, or if the creditor altered the terms of the lease agreement, including the due date, then the debtor is legally allowed to use that as a defense if he decides to go to court.

There are specific laws that have to be followed whenever a car is repossessed. Creditors are not allowed to make threats, damage the vehicle or damage property in the process of repossessing the vehicle. A court order needs to be obtained before the car is repossessed if the debtor is a member of the military, as of 2014. Creditors are not legally allowed to sell any personal property left in the vehicle after it has been repossessed.