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Can't Make Auto Loan Payments? Seven Steps for Getting Help

[Jul 13, 2009.]


The American Bankers Association (ABA) notes in a July 6 report  that delinquency rates for five of eight types of loans increased during the first quarter of 2009. Increasing delinquencies rates include auto loans, which rose from 2.03% to 3.01%. The President of the ABA attributes increasing loan defaults to unemployment.

Delinquent Auto Loans: Get Help Immediately

If you're having problems making auto loan payments, it's important to get help right away. Here are some tips for negotiating a repayment plan or making other arrangements with your lender.

  • Determine if and how how much you can pay: Review your finances to determine if it's feasible to continue making auto loan payments. If you can continue making payments, identify an exact amount if you must pay less than your current payment amount. Make notes so you won't get off track when contacting your auto loan company.

  • Contact your lender immediately: Auto loans are secured by your vehicle, which gives the lender the right to repossess your vehicle for non payment.  As soon as you know you're going to miss a payment, call your lender to negotiate affordable loan terms. Answer your lender's questions honestly and avoid being defensive or rude.

  • Be Proactive: Offer what you can afford to pay today. Ask your lender about repayment plans or loan modification options. Affirm your commitment to making payments and bringing your auto loan payments current. Don't make promises you cannot keep; this will only escalate your problems.

  • Finding Sources of Cash: If you're employed and a homeowner, you may be able to qualify for a home equity loan or line of credit that provides cash for catching up or paying off your car loan. Be careful of "robbing Peter to pay Paul," as consumer loans such as cash advances from credit cards and pay day loans often carry high finance charges and can lead to more debt. Instead, have a garage sale or consider listing items for sale online.

  • Review your spending habits: Look at your household expenses and see if you can cut back anywhere to raise funds for paying your auto loan.

  • 401(k) loan: If you're contributing to a 401(k) plan, you may be able to take a loan against it through your employer. Contact your human resources office for more details. Borrowing against a 401(k) account is preferable to withdrawing funds, as there may be penalties and additional income taxes involved.

  • Auto loan modification: Your lender may agree to modify your auto loan by adding past due payments to the back of the loan and adjusting your payment due date. This is best negotiated when you've gotten a job or can otherwise afford to make payments, but need help in getting caught up.

If you're having problems keeping your auto loan payments current, call your lender today. Preventing repossession can help in avoiding additional expenses and  negative credit reporting.


About Author:

Peter Andrew has been writing about -- and for -- business for more than two decades. For the last couple of years, he has found himself increasingly specializing in the U.S. financial sector.

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