Is it legal for a dealership to use my car for personal use after I relinquished it and still sue me for remaining balance?

I had a car for almost a year and I had to relinquish it. I explained my issue with them and they said bring it back. I’ve seen the dealership use the vehicle for driving around. I actually even seen it at a fast food place. I know it’s mine because I know that’s the only black jetta they have there with a messed up antennae and a spare tire on back driver side. Now, a couple months later, I have received a summons to court for the remaining balance on car but there had been no auction on it yet.

Asked on March 17, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you turned in your vehicle (relinquished it) to the dealership that you bought it from, then you by your conduct have nothing to complain about since you gave up custody and control over it. Whether or not it is legal or allowable for the dealership to use the vehicle now depends upon who holds the paper to the car with respect to any loan.

If you received a summons for the car for the balance owed on the car, possibly the dealership is willing to let you have the car back and waive its security interest in it and sue you for the balance owed. I suggest that you consult with an attorney experienced in the area of automobile law. From what you have written, the dealership can sue you for the balance owed on the car.

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