Repo Review

Unless you are fortunate enough to pay for your vehicle purchase 100% at the time of purchase you will finance some portion of your purchase.  Vehicle financing has evolved from a standard maximum time of 36 months to loans which can now stretch to 84 months…that’s 7 years.   There are many tips and tricks to financing and though you do not need to earn your MBA to understand it all there are several basics that you should review.  And when you are financing your vehicle you have an ongoing obligation to make those payments and meet all other conditions of the purchase agreement and finance contract lest your vehicle be repossessed.

Virtually every finance contract allows the seller to repossess the vehicle if the buyer does or fails to do certain things.  The most common examples of contract breaches that will lead to a repo are failure to make timely payments, failure to maintain collision and/or comprehensive insurance coverage on the vehicle, and even tampering with GPS and vehicle-monitoring devices.

A few basic facts on repos:

  • Your creditor is NOT required to give you any advance notice before repossessing your car.  
  • There is no automatic legal right allowing a buyer to cure default, pay the repo fees, and recover the vehicle.
  • A repo agent can enter onto private property to retrieve a vehicle so long as no property is damaged and there is no breach of the peace.
  • The buyer or “owner” of the vehicle has the right to retrieve personal property from the vehicle including the vehicle license plate(s) BUT property which is installed in the vehicle is not automatically required to be returned (ex:  stereo equipment).
  • If the creditor repos the vehicle and decides to sell the vehicle he must apply the sales proceeds to the outstanding loan balance and any deficiency remaining can be assessed to the buyer.

I should note that as the American economy struggles to recover more people are at danger of losing their vehicles to repossession. And creditors are repossessing vehicles in greater numbers.  Repossession agents face a fair amount of danger when they go to retrieve the creditor’s collateral.  Click here, here, here, and here for stories of repossessions gone wrong.

Click here for more information on vehicle repossessions.  Repossession laws vary from state to state.  If you are a North Carolina resident and believe your vehicle has been wrongfully repossessed do not go it alone—contact Attorney John O’Neal for a free consultation.  You may have valid defenses and claims at your disposal.


  1. Robert Taylor

    Thanks cousin John! Some are not aware of these things.

    Greg Taylor

    Sent from my iPhone-Please excuse any typos from my handheld device.

  2. Alex Standt

    Some great information here to think about! Remember, just because there are laws set in place for repossession agencies to follow, it does not mean that they will. These agencies make money off of repossessing each vehicle and sometimes they will throw the laws to the wind so they can get their pay day. Know what the laws are in your state and if need be enlist the help of an experienced attorney to guide you out of your situation safely. Never try and go at something like this alone!


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