Frequently Asked Questions About Repossessions

Please Note



Nothing on this web site should be viewed as creating an attorney-client relationship between you and our law firm, or any of our attorneys. The information here is general in nature and should not be viewed as applying to your specific circumstances. Only a qualified consumer rights attorney can advise you about your specific situation. Hyde & Swigart are California consumer rights attorneys. State laws, and the interpretation and rulings on federal laws, are different in each jurisdiction. If you feel you need consumer rights legal advice, contact Hyde & Swigart at (619) 233-7770 for a free consultation.



If I decide I need to talk to a lawyer, what does it cost for me to talk with Hyde & Swigart?

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I live in California. How many days must I be behind on my car loan before my car can be repossessed?

Normally, if you are behind by even one day, your car can be repossessed without notice. However, it is possible your contract will outline different circumstances. (But, not usually.)


I live in California. The finance company repossessed my car without telling me ahead of time. Is this legal?

Yes, under most circumstances.


I live in California. The finance company told me they would not repossess my car for a week while I got the money to pay, but then they repossessed it the next day. Is this legal?

No, but it is hard to prove that they said this. Get agreements like that in writing or by e-mail.


I live in California. A repossession employee came to my home to repossess my car, which was in the garage. I told him to get off my property and he said he had a right to be there because he was there to repossess the car. He would not leave. Is this legal?

No. Call the police.


I live in California. What does "reinstate" mean?

To reinstate means to get the car back after it has been repossessed by paying what back payments are due plus all the repossession costs associated with the repossession. You may not have that right, depending on the circumstances.


I live in California. What does "redeem" mean?

After your car is repossessed, but before it is sold, you may redeem by paying in full the indebtedness evidenced by the contract along with any collection or repossession costs and fees.



I live in California. I am behind on my car payments so I keep it at my friends house. Is this OK?

While it is "legal," you need to be careful. If you "hide" the car to keep it from being repossessed, the finance company may not allow you to make reinstate.

I live in California. My car was repossessed and the finance company will not let me reinstate because they say I damaged the car. Can they do that?

You need a lawyer. Often, finance companies will claim a car has been damaged as an excuse to keep from allowing the buyer to reinstate. Sometimes the "damage" is a scratch. That is not legal.