The loan agreement that you sign at the time of purchase details your rights if your car is repossessed. If you financed through the dealership, this document is called the Retail Installment Sales Contract, or RISC. It will state whether you must pay off the full balance of the loan or pay only past due payments. In addition to satisfying loan payments, the lender may require you to pay towing and storage fees.

If there is a “default" - such as late or partial payment, a lapse in insurance coverage, or death of borrower - the finance company, bank, or credit union may repossess your vehicle.

After the repossession, you are entitled to receive a notice that details the terms for you to get your car back. This notice may be called a Notice of Intent to Sell Property. You should receive this notice before the vehicle is sold at private sale or auction with enough time for you to get the car back.