Navigating Repossessed Cars: Protecting Your Vehicle and Finances

by | Feb 19, 2024 | NDA Blog

From driving to work and dropping our kids off at school to running errands, our cars play a pivotal role in maintaining our routines, and the thought of dealing with repossessed cars adds an extra layer of stress that no one can afford. However, the financial commitment that comes with car ownership can sometimes become a burden, leading to the risk of repossession.

In this blog, we unpack the implications of bank repossessed cars and knowing how to avoid it can save you from significant stress and financial strain.

What is Car Repossession?

Repossessed cars are a circumstance that stems from falling behind on their vehicle finance payments, allowing the credit provider the right to seize the car without going to court. This action not only deprives you of your vehicle but can also have a detrimental impact on your credit record. It’s crucial to fully grasp the details of your vehicle finance contract, including the terms of repossession, to protect yourself and your credit score.

What Happens To Repossessed Cars

What Happens To Repossessed Cars?

Repossessed cars are usually stored by the lender before being sold off at repossessed car auctions. Repo auctioneers will try and sell the car to the highest bidder and the proceeds from the sale at the bank repossessed cars auction will be used to settle the outstanding balance of the vehicle finance.

However, if the repo car auction sale doesn’t cover the full amount owed, you may be asked to pay the deficiency. This can be a significant financial burden, especially if you need help to meet your payments.

What To Do If Your Car Is Repossessed

Even if your vehicle has been repossessed, there are steps people can take to potentially retrieve bank repossessed vehicles before they are auctioned. Here are your options:

1. Buying Back Repossessed Cars from the Lender

Assess the Value of Repossessed Cars: Start by determining the current market value of your vehicle. You can use online resources or seek professional appraisal services.

Compare Market Value with Loan Balance: Check the outstanding balance on your car loan. If the value of your repossessed car exceeds this amount, you may have the option to buy it back from the lender.

Negotiate with the Lender for Repossessed Cars: Reach out to your lender to discuss the possibility of purchasing the vehicle back. Negotiate terms that work within your financial means, such as setting up a repayment plan if needed.

2. Reinstating Finance For Repossessed Cars

Review Loan Agreement: Repo auctions for bank repo cars do not always go well, and lenders are always willing to talk with the vehicle owner before auctioning off the car. If you are considering reinstating your car loan, carefully examine the terms of your loan agreement, particularly regarding reinstatement options.

Communicate with the Lender: Contact your lender as soon as possible to express your intention to reinstate the loan for your repossessed car. They can provide you with specific instructions and requirements for the reinstatement of repo cars in SA.

Meet Financial Obligations: Fulfil any outstanding payments or obligations according to the terms outlined in your loan agreement for repossessed cars. This typically involves catching up on missed payments and covering any associated fees.

3. Seeking Legal Advice For Repossessed Cars

Evaluate Budget: Before consulting with a consumer law attorney, assess your current financial situation. Determine what you can afford in terms of legal fees and potential outcomes.

Research Attorneys: Look for experienced consumer law attorneys who specialise in bank repossessed cars in South Africa. Consider factors such as their track record, client reviews, and fees.

Consultation: Schedule a consultation with the attorney to discuss your case in detail. Be prepared to provide documentation related to the repossessed cars in South Africa and your financial circumstances.

Explore Options: The attorney can help you understand your rights and explore possible legal strategies to reclaim your vehicle. They may also negotiate with the lender on your behalf or represent you in court if necessary.

Options For Managing Deficiency On Repossessed Cars

Lenders typically require the deficiency on repossessed cars to be settled in a lump sum, which can further strain your finances. Negotiating instalment payments may be a more manageable approach, but it’s essential to get any agreement in writing before proceeding.

Should a lender demand a lump sum, it’s vital to consider your overall financial health before agreeing, as this could impact your ability to cover basic living expenses.

Strategies To Avoid Repossessed Cars

Strategies To Avoid Repossessed Cars

Fortunately, repossession is not inevitable. Early intervention is key. At National Debt Advisors, we can also help renegotiate payment terms and prevent your car from ending up in repossessed car auctions, offering options like reducing payments or extending the term. Here are some options that you can apply to avoid ending up with repossessed cars:

1.      Communicate with Your Lender

Anticipate Difficulty: If you foresee challenges in meeting your loan payments, don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out to your lender as soon as possible to discuss your situation openly and honestly.

Negotiate Payment Terms: Request a meeting with your lender to renegotiate your payment terms. This could involve exploring options such as reducing your monthly payments, extending the loan term, or restructuring the loan to make it more manageable.

Seek Legal Assistance: If you’re unsure about how to negotiate with your lender or if you feel overwhelmed by the process, consider seeking assistance from NDA’s in-house legal department or a qualified attorney specialising in consumer finance issues. They can provide guidance and support throughout the negotiation process.

2.      Explore Alternative Solutions

Downgrade Your Vehicle: If your current vehicle is beyond your financial means, consider downsizing to a more affordable option. This could involve selling or trading in your current vehicle for a less expensive model that better fits your budget.

Consider Refinancing: Investigate the possibility of refinancing your existing loan with better terms. This could potentially lower your monthly payments and make them more affordable, thereby avoiding situations of repossessed cars.

Seek Financial Assistance: Explore other sources of financial assistance, such as government programs, non-profit organisations, or community resources that may offer assistance with loan modifications or debt relief through debt review.

3.      Develop a Financial Plan

Assess Your Finances: Take a close look at your income, expenses, and overall financial situation. Identify areas where you can cut back on expenses or increase your income to free up more money for loan payments.

Create a Budget: Avoid repossessed cars by developing a realistic budget that prioritises essential expenses and allocates funds towards loan payments. Stick to this budget rigorously to avoid falling behind on payments in the future.

Seek Professional Help: Consider seeking help from an expert who can assist you in creating a personalised plan for managing your debt and improving your financial stability.

The Last Resort: Voluntary Repossession

In cases where negotiations fail and selling the car isn’t an option, voluntary repossession might be considered. Although this form of repossessed cars may save some costs associated with involuntary repossession, it doesn’t free you from all financial obligations. You might still need to cover the costs of storage and sale of the vehicle by the lender.

Repossessed Cars: The Reality of Voluntary Surrender

The option to “hand the keys back” to the bank and walk away from a vehicle finance agreement is not as straightforward as it seems. This process for repossessed cars is known as voluntary surrender and does not absolve you from the financial obligation if the vehicle sells for less than the outstanding loan balance at auction. This could result in continuing to pay off a loan for a car you no longer possess, highlighting the financial implications of voluntary surrender.

Your Rights Under Voluntary Surrender

Under Section 127(1) of the National Credit Act, consumers have the right to terminate their vehicle finance agreement through voluntary surrender. This process allows the sale of repossessed cars at auction to offset the debt owed, offering a potential exit for over-indebted consumers. However, it’s vital that this process is initiated by the consumer, free from undue pressure or intimidation by the bank or its representatives.

Can Your Car Be Repossessed Under Debt Review?

Despite the growing number of people facing financial distress with their home and vehicle loans, debt counselling shines as a hopeful solution, aiming to protect your assets and restore financial balance with manageable repayment plans.

Understanding Debt Counselling And Repossessed Cars

Introduced under the National Credit Act in 2007, debt counselling stands as a critical intervention for individuals overwhelmed by debt or on the verge of ending up with repossessed cars. Its core objective is to forge a viable route to financial recovery, enabling people to fulfil their debt obligations without losing their homes or vehicles. This process highlights the essence of proactive financial management and the critical nature of seeking timely assistance.

The Process and Negotiation

The debt counselling journey commences with an in-depth financial evaluation by a registered debt counsellor, which is vital for gauging the depth of indebtedness and determining the suitability of debt counselling.

With a formal application, the process begins, transitioning from individual creditor negotiations to a structured approach. This phase involves renegotiating terms across all relevant credit agreements to achieve reduced monthly payments, including adjustments for vehicle and home loans to levels that align with the debtor’s realistic payment capacity, typically achieving significantly lower interest rates.

Asset Protection To Prevent Repossessed Cars

Central to debt counselling is its role in preventing the repossession of assets such as repossessed cars. By negotiating more affordable repayment plans and consolidating these into a single monthly payment, debt counselling minimises the risk of missed payments, thereby protecting valuable assets like homes and vehicles. An independent payment distribution agency plays a crucial role in ensuring payments are accurately disbursed to creditors, maintaining the integrity of this process.

Take Control of Your Financial Future with National Debt Advisor

Take Control of Your Financial Future with National Debt Advisor

Facing the risk of car repossession due to overwhelming debt can be a distressing experience. However, with National Debt Advisors by your side, you have a leading ally in the realm of debt counselling. As one of the premier debt counselling firms; in the country, we specialise in crafting personalised, manageable repayment plans that not only aim to save your car from repossession but also pave the way to financial stability.

Don’t let debt dictate the course of your life. Reach out to National Debt Advisor today and let us help you navigate through your financial challenges with expertise, compassion, and a tailored plan designed to secure your assets and restore your peace of mind. Your journey towards financial freedom starts here. Contact National Debt Advisors now to safeguard your repossessed cars and take a significant step towards reclaiming your financial independence.

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