What happens if you default on a title loan? | finder.com
motorefi car loan refinancing review

What happens if you default on a title loan?

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Avoid having your car repossessed and ruining your credit.

Defaulting on an auto title loan is expensive and can affect your ability to qualify for credit in the future. If you fall behind on your payments, there are a few ways you can try to get out of the loan — starting with reaching out to your lender to discuss your situation.

What is defaulting on an auto title loan?

Exactly what it means to default on an auto title loan varies by lender and your state’s regulations. But in general, you’re in default when you’ve failed to make a certain number of payments — sometimes just one — and have broken your contract. At this point, your lender can legally begin the repossession process.

If you think you might default, reach out to your provider’s customer service team as soon as possible. It may be willing to extend your loan or work out a new payment plan. Defaulting is expensive for lenders too, so if you’re up front, you may find yours is forgiving of a late payment.

What happens when I default on a title loan?

If you can’t pay your car title loan, you face a number of expensive consequences. These can have a huge impact on your finances — and your ability to get to work.

Fees

The fees you pay for a missed payment or repossession depend on your state regulations. Some states set a cap on how much lenders can charge for late or repossession fees, while others allow lenders to charge high fees for even being a few days late on a payment.

If your car is repossessed, lenders may be able to charge you attorney and storage fees as well as other costs involved with the repossession process.

Repossession

Because you used your title as collateral, defaulting often results in your vehicle being repossessed and sold. But the specifics of the process varies by state. Some require lenders to notify you of default weeks in advance, while others allow lenders to swoop in unannounced and tow your vehicle.

What can you do when this happens? It depends. You could pay off your loan in full and reclaim your car before the lender sells it. However, if you can’t afford to pay, your lender is legally allowed to repossess and sell your car to recoup its losses.

After the sale, you may be entitled to any money left over once your debts are settled depending on where you live. For example, if you owed $5,000 in principal, interest and repossession fees but your vehicle sold for $7,000, your lender may be required by law to compensate you the extra $2,000. However, in some states you’re on the hook to make up the difference if your car sells for less than what you owe.

Will defaulting on a title loan impact my credit?

It can. Short-term lenders usually don’t report your payments to the major credit bureaus. But if you default and have your car repossessed, your lender — or the collection agency your debt is sold to — may report it.

Defaulting on a title loan can stay on your record for up to 15 years. This impacts your ability to get a loan, as many traditional lenders shy away from a borrower who’s defaulted. Not only that, your credit score will likely take a huge hit, keeping you from qualifying for the best rates and terms for loans and credit cards in the future.

How can I get out of a title loan?

There are ways to get out of an auto title loan, but it involves communicating with your lender and coming to a compromise.

Pay off your loan

This is likely the least realistic option if you’re facing large financial issues. But if you have the money, contacting your lender and asking for a payoff amount can prevent default. Just keep an eye on your loan status and make sure it’s closed out properly.

Negotiate with your lender

Don’t have the money to pay off your loan? You may find that your lender is willing to accept less than you agreed on after some negotiating.

Get your new payoff amount in writing and settle things quickly, but know that your credit may still be impacted if your lender reports the settlement. It won’t be as bad as defaulting, but it can still make it hard to qualify for the best rates on any future loans or credit cards.

Refinance your loan

Not all states allow you to refinance your title loan, but if you can, it may help you lower your interest rate and save money. Refinancing with a different lender isn’t always easy, however. Beyond following your state’s laws, you might struggle to find a lender willing to refinance your title loan.

Unfortunately, refinancing your loan doesn’t actually get you out of your title loan. You’re just shifting loans from one lender to another. Your car is still at risk if you can’t meet the payments, so only consider refinancing if you’re sure it will make your loan more affordable.

Consolidate your debt

If you have multiple sources of debt, consider consolidating your debt with a settlement company or lender. Online lenders and credit unions often have less stringent credit requirements than banks. While you may not qualify for the lowest interest rate, it’s likely less than your payments for your auto title loan. And a personal loan for debt consolidation has an added bonus — it won’t use your car’s title as collateral. This means you won’t risk losing it if you default.

Compare debt relief options
Rates last updated February 17th, 2019
Unfortunately, none of the short term loan providers currently offer loans in your state. Learn more about short term loans in your state to find an alternative.
Name Product Product Description Costs Requirements
Freedom Debt Relief is a debt settlement company that works to help people with unmanageable, unsecured debt get back on their feet.
Monthly payment based on enrolled debt, no upfront fees
Must have at least $15,000 in unsecured debt and live in a serviced state.
Get back on your feet with a top-rated debt relief company that works with multiple types of debt.
18–25% of total enrolled debt
Must have a legitimate financial hardship which is preventing the ability to pay creditors and a minimum of $7,500 in debt.
This debt settlement alternative can help you find a path to financial freedom.
Fees regulated by client's state of residence, can range from
$0 to $69 with an average monthly fee of $35. No upfront or contingency fees.
Debt must not be payday loans or secured loans.
This company claims to significantly reduce your consumer and tax debt.
20% of enrolled debt or less, no upfront fees.
Must have verifiable income and more than $10,000 in unsecured debt or tax debt — excluding payday loans.
This A+ BBB-rated service offers free consultations to lower your monthly payments help you get out of debt faster.
Charges and fees vary by the company you're ultimately connected with
Must be at least 18 years old and a legal US resident; additional terms may apply based on services and products used.

Compare up to 4 providers

Ask for voluntary repossession

Some lenders allow you to voluntarily surrender your vehicle to close out your loan. This still negatively impacts your credit and leaves you without a car, but like negotiating, you’ll close out the loan. Without large monthly payments, more of your finances are free to help you get back on your feet and improve your credit.

Sell your car

If your lender allows it, you can sell your car and use the funds to pay off your loan amount. If your car has more resale value than you owe on your loan, it could be worth looking into.

File for bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy should be a last resort, but if your auto title loan is one of many debts weighing you down, this can eliminate the problem. However, your car can still be repossessed, and bankruptcy stays on your record for seven to 10 years. This making qualifying for a loan much harder in the future. If you’re considering this route, speak with a lawyer that specializes in bankruptcy to learn your best options.

Bottom line

Auto title loans can be a quick and easy way to get the money you need, but they often end in default and repossession due to their high costs. If you fear you could lose your car, contact your lender as soon as possible to find a solution.

If you’re unsure of the process and regulations in your state, browse our guide to auto title loans to learn more.

Frequently asked questions

Kellye Guinan

Kellye Guinan is a writer and editor with finder.com and has years of experience in academic writing and research. Between her passion for books and her love of language, she works on creating stories and volunteering her time on worthy causes. She lives in the woods and likes to find new bug friends in between reading just a little too much nonfiction.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

US Payday Loans Offers

Important Information*
CashNetUSA Loan

Apply for a short-term loan with an easy online application and dedicated customer service.

Check into Cash Payday Loan

With 1,000 branches in 30 states, get $50 to $1,000 in days from this direct lender.

OppLoans Installment Loans

Installment loans with competitive rates from a top-rated direct lender.

LendYou Short-term Loans

Apply online with this loan-connection service offering unrestricted short-term loans with fast turnaround.

Go to site