How Do You Get Your Repossessed Car Back?

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Three options exist for getting a car back after repossession: redeeming the car or reinstating the loan (if legal in your state or in your contract), bidding on the car at the auction and negotiating with the creditor. No matter which option you choose, you have to move quickly.

Redeeming the car involves finding the funds to pay off the entire balance of the loan during a period established by the contract or state law. This varies from one state to the next, so familiarize yourself with your state's requirements before pursuing redemption. Reinstating the loan involves bringing the loan up to what the lender is willing to consider current.

The lender must wait a certain time period between repossession and selling the car. In some states, this is only defined as a reasonable time, while other states set a specific time period. In California, this requirement is 15 days of notice before the sale, as of 2015.

If you can't line up the money to pay off the note or negotiate a way to bring the note current and get the car back, which often involves paying a fee to the tow lot and an administrative fee to the lender, you can go to the auction and try to bid on the car.