Repossession of cars and trucks, like making sausages and politics, undoubtedly has its benefits, but the actual process can be extremely unjust and disturbing to watch. This article is going to pull back the veil and let the average consumer take a look at what goes on in repossession. This article should help you decide what foreclosure could do to you if you’re struggling with car payments and wondering what actions to take.
Deal Gone Wrong
It is well-known that, when you buy a new car it depreciates substantially as soon as you drive it off the lot. In plain English, that means the car is worth much less money right after you buy it than before you own it. Depending on the size of your down payment, then, you could very well be, and most often probably are, “under water” on the loan-the car is worth less than you owe. For this reason, I prefer to buy used cars, myself, but if you don’t, and you buy well, things will eventually straighten themselves out. Provided you can continue to make the payments, the car will lose value more slowly than the note does. But what if something comes up and you can’t make the payments? That’s when you’re in for a rude surprise.
After missing a payment, you will find the auto dealership has become very interested in you. They will call and write. And they’ll keep calling and writing until your payments are current. If you can’t pay, the dealership will eventually suggest you return your car-or the idea might occur to you. If you don’t return the car, the dealership may send out “repo men” to repossess the car. You may go to your accustomed parking place only to find the car gone. They won’t leave a note, either.
But not too long later, you will probably get notice that your car is to be sold “at public auction” within a certain amount of time. They may tell you about a “right to redeem,” which at least in some states is your right to make good on the payments and get the car back. Let’s assume for the present example that you can’t do that. Let’s say (to keep the numbers simple) that the purchase price of the car was $15,000, and you made a down-payment plus other payments of $5,000. The car is two years old now, and its “blue book value” is down to $8,000. So you figure that after the company sells the car, you’ll owe about $2,000, right?
Repossession in the Real World
Wrong! A month later, you’ll find out that the car was sold for $2500. They charged you $250 for the “repossession fee” and another $250 for “reconditioning.” So they “credited” your account with $2,000 against the $10,000 you owed, and now they want another $8,000 from you. They send you a letter outlining everything they’ve done. You had a camera worth $200 in the glove compartment, and you ask about that. They tell you it’s “lost.”
That’s repossession in the real world.