Is it legal to repossess a vehicle after payment was only 3 days late?

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2011

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UPDATED: Jun 21, 2011Fact Checked

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Is it legal to repossess a vehicle after payment was only 3 days late?

I’m taking the dealer to small claims court anyway but was wondering what kind of chance he has of slithering away from this without paying me back? I really don’t even want the car back anyway but I had it approximately 1.5 months and the payments were barely $60/biweekly. I paid him $2000 down and owed only $500 (plus tags, tax, etc). I didn’t come in on the Friday of that week and had repossession papers the following Monday. How can he do that legally? Also, isn’t a late fee supposed to be added on before repossession?

Asked on June 21, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, North Carolina


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Car loans are contracts. Usually there is a provision within the loan agreement that states that if you are even one day late, the lender or servicer has the right to repossess the vehicle, often without notice. Late fees do not necessarily need to be added to exercise the right to repossess. Check your state's laws on repossession and notice requirements and then check your contract to a) see if the provision I mentioned is included therein and is clear and b) if it conforms to the state law you found. Basically, I don't believe you will prevail in the small claims matter but keep it in mind for any future motor vehicle purchases that depending on the lender or servicer, the possibility of repossession is actually quite real.

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