Does a car dealer have to give notice before it repossesses a car?

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Does a car dealer have to give notice before it repossesses a car?

A car was repossessed from a friend just now. She just moved to a new home and had not yet given the new address to the car dealer. She was not behind on payments, and she received no notice that this was going to happen. They came in an unmarked tow truck to get the car from her driveway. She thought the car was being stolen and called the police. The police informed her that they had gotten a call from the car dealership stating that the car was being repoed and not stolen. The police said that they would not help her and to contact the dealership in the morning.  Does the repossession have to be done in a marked vehicle?

Asked on November 8, 2010 under General Practice, Arkansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The key issue is not whether or not the repo'ing vehicle was marked (there is no requirement for any particular marking, by the way) or whether she received a notice specifically before or of the repossession--it's that if she was on time with her payments and not in default of other material (important) terms that specifically give rise under the financing or security agreement to a right to repossess, he car could *not* be repossessed. Lender's can't simply arbitrarily repossess a car whenever they want; they can only do so when the car owner is in default of some term, default of which specifically gives them the right to repossess. The main term, of course, is payment; usually, if someone is paying on time, they don't have to fear repossession. So the question is, why was her car repossessed if she was paying on time? Where her payments being intercepted or stolen? Was there an error so they weren't credited to her? Did her checks bounce? Etc. She needs to ask the lender and/or dealership (whoever repossessed) *why* the car was repossessd.


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