You can try to hide your car from the recovery company, but it just extends the repossession process. Here’s what could happen if you try to hide your vehicle from the repo man.
Hiding Your Car From Repossession
Playing hide and seek with the repo man isn't a good idea. It’s certainly tempting to hide your vehicle from the recovery company if you know they’re coming. However, it’s not a great idea, and it’s illegal in some states to deliberately hide your car from them.
Experienced recovery companies are familiar with most tricks that borrowers try to pull when it comes to concealing or hiding their car from an impending repo. Stowing it away in garages, parking garages, around the block, and at the workplace are all common avoidance tactics – but it isn't going to end the repossession process.
Keeping your car in a locked garage forever doesn’t mean the lender has to give up on recovering it.
Hiding your car is just a bandage. One of the only places a recovery can’t take your vehicle from is out of a locked garage, secured by either padlock or chains. A repossession company can’t pick a lock, break it, or cut chains in an attempt to recover the vehicle. This is considered “breaching the peace,” and it’s one of the rights a repo man can't break during the repo process.
If you lock your vehicle away and the recovery company is unsuccessful in collecting it, the lender can take you to court and attempt to get a replevin. It requires a lawsuit, but if the lender wins, they get a court order to collect the vehicle.
The replevin process is different from the repossession process. In most states, your lender isn’t required to let you know when/where they’re going to collect your car via recovery company. For a replevin, though, the lender must notify you if they pursue it, and you have the right to attend the hearing and dispute it. However, if you’ve defaulted on your auto loan or broken the loan contract, it’s likely that the lender can win the case and get the order to take the vehicle.
In addition to taking the car, the lender can still charge you for hiring the recovery company and any storage fees that your vehicle incurs (since most repo’d vehicles are stored before they’re sold at auction). You’re still responsible for the remaining loan balance after the auction sale proceeds are put toward the balance, called the deficiency balance.
Can You Stop a Repossession?
Communication is key to stopping a repo. Stopping a repossession usually means being proactive and upfront with your lender – not hiding your car and avoiding contact with them. In fact, avoiding your lender’s calls and notices can strain the relationship between you two, making them less likely to help you out. It’s recommended you contact your lender at the first sign of financial instability, or as soon as you think you’re going to miss a car payment.
Can an auto loan deferment help? Some lenders offer deferment programs for borrowers that are going through hardships such as sudden job loss, medical emergency, or other unexpected events that cause financial strife. A deferment pauses your car payments for a little while. Believe it or not, your lender probably wants to avoid the repossession process too. It’s a lengthy process that can cost you both time and energy.
Each lender’s deferment policy varies, so it’s important to read the fine print. For example, some lenders require that you continue to pay the interest during a deferment period, so you’re only skipping the principal payment. Keep in mind that deferred payments aren’t skipped and forgotten, either – they’re typically added to the back of the loan to be repaid later. A deferment option typically isn’t available if you’ve already missed a payment.
You've got options if deferment isn't the answer. If you're already in the repossession process, there may be other avenues to explore to stop a repo. Typically, there are three options available to get out of a repo situation, only two of them leave you with your car, though.
- Reinstate your loan – If you’re already behind on your car payments, you may be able to reinstate your loan if you’re facing default and repo. These agreements typically involve paying all your missed payments in one lump sum to get back on track.
- Redeem your car loan – This involves paying for your auto loan’s balance in full. If your vehicle was repo’d already, you may be able to get it back by redeeming the loan. However, this may not be a viable option for many unless you have the money on hand.
- Surrender the vehicle – If deferring, reinstating, or redeeming your car loan aren’t options for your situation, then surrendering your vehicle could be the path of least resistance. Instead of waiting for the repo man to collect your car, you can voluntarily surrender it. This can save you money, too, since you don’t have to repay the lender for recovery fees, and you can drop off your car at your own convenience and remove your possessions.
The bottom line is that there are processes in place to assist borrowers in sticky situations with their auto loans. Hardships happen, and the more preemptive you are about resolving a possible repossession, the better your chances of getting a favorable outcome.