If you’re wondering, “How long before Santander repossess my vehicle?” you’ve come to the right place. If you have a car loan with Santander and are struggling to make your payments, Santander may repossess your vehicle between 60 and 90 days after the date of your last payment. While you won’t be charged any late fees as long as you make your monthly payment within 15 days of the due date, Santander may repossess your car if you miss payments outright without contacting an account manager to explain your situation. To help you sort out Santander Consumer USA’s repossession policy, we have policy information and steps you can take detailed below.

The Santander Repossession Policy

Like most auto lenders, Santander will repossess your vehicle if you default on your loan. The repossession policy for your particular loan will vary depending on the terms of your contract. Below, we’ve outlined general processes to expect when facing repossession, as well as Santander’s specific policies where available. However, since Santander customer service cannot share the specifics of its policies without reviewing a customer’s contract and account history, you should consult your contract or contact the company for more specific information.

When Santander Will Repossess Your Vehicle and How to Prevent It

Laws vary slightly from state to state, but your car can usually be legally repossessed immediately after you default on your loan. Typically, failure to make a prompt payment will put you in default, but your contract should tell you what exactly constitutes a default in your case. Some Santander customers have reported their cars being repossessed between 60 and 90 days after their last payment due date.

If you’re just a few days late on your payment, you shouldn’t face any consequence as long as you make the payment soon. The Santander car payment grace period without fees though is 15 days. doesn’t charge a late fee until you’re 15 days late on your payment. If you can’t make your monthly payment, Santander suggests contacting an account manager right away to work out a solution. You can reach an account manager by calling Santander at (888) 222-4227.

Keep in contact with Santander and let them know you’re trying your best to make timely payments. Generally, companies that give out car loans don’t want to repossess your vehicle because doing so isn’t nearly as profitable as receiving the entire loan value. A Santander account manager may be able to defer your payments for a couple of months or make another deal to help you get back in good standing. That said, if you’re unable to work out a solution with Santander, your vehicle is in danger of being repossessed.

Note you can always agree to a voluntary repossession at any time. If you know you’re not going to be able to make your payments, this is the wisest move. Call Santander to get it done. The sooner, the better.

Military Protection

Santander notes that it provides a program that “goes beyond the minimum requirements” of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which provides benefits and protection when a service member is called to active duty. Santander not only includes protection from repossession unless a court order or written waiver is obtained but also a fixed interest rate of six percent and the option to end a vehicle lease without an early termination fee.

The Santander Repossession Process

As mentioned above, Santander customers report having their car repossessed between 60 and 90 days after their last payment due date. But how exactly does the repossession process work?

Each state has its own laws regarding car repossession, but most are very similar because of the Uniform Commercial Code, which applies to securities and repossessions and has been adopted by the majority of states. In general, your creditor (or the repossession service they’ve hired) is free to come to your home, workplace, or any other location to take your car. While Santander does send notices of missed payments and past-due amounts, most states don’t require the creditor to notify you ahead of time when they are planning to pick up the car.

That said, you do have some rights. The Breach the Peace law varies slightly from state to state, but in general, your car must be taken in a peaceful manner. Technically, your creditor can’t take your car if you object to it because it creates a risk of violence. Courts usually rule that creditors who open garage doors in order to take a car have “breached the peace.” If there’s a risk of violence, the creditor will have to ask for the local sheriff’s assistance to collect the car safely.

If your car has been successfully repossessed, any property inside the car is still yours. This includes loose items such as clothing, cell phones, and CDs. If you aren’t able to get your belongings out of the car before it is repossessed, the law requires that your creditor return them to you — it’s your car alone, not the possessions within it, that’s collateral for your auto loan.  Note, however, that any “fixtures” on your car (such as CD players, sound systems, and GPS devices) are considered part of the car, and therefore are counted as collateral for the loan and can be repossessed.

After Santander Repossession Goes Through

Once your car has been repossessed, you do still have a few options to get the car back or at least settle your debt. We have the next steps detailed below.

Redemption and Reinstatement

Santander is required to give you notice which allows for reasonable time to react and review your options before your vehicle is sold. State laws differ slightly but generally, you will have at least 10 days. We suggest quickly making a call to Santander to see if you can work something out. Most often, you’ll have two options for getting your car back at this point: redemption or reinstatement.

In most states, you have the right to redeem your vehicle by paying your past due payments and the entire balance on the loan. This may also include fees from the repossession such as paying the repossession service, storage fees, and even attorney fees. Your right to redeem ends when your vehicle has been sold.

If your car has been repossessed, the chances are high that you don’t have the funds to redeem your vehicle. That said, reinstating your loan might be a better option. You can reinstate your loan by paying the amount by which you’re behind on your loan as well as any fees related to the repossession.

Auction

If you’re unable to work something out with Santander, your vehicle will likely go to auction. Most states require your creditor to notify you when and where the sale will take place. You do have the right to bid on your car at the sale, but will still have to pay your owed amount (plus any repossession-related fees) to Santander.

Paying the Deficiency

The deficiency is the difference between the remaining amount on the loan and what was received for the vehicle at the auction. The deficiency also includes fees related to the repossession.

While not all creditors actively pursue the deficiency fee, Santander and other creditors do have the right to sue you if it isn’t paid upon their request. They may give you the option to set up a payment plan for the deficiency or even settle for a percentage of what you owe. If you don’t have the means to pay back the deficiency or any assets, you may not have to take any action; though, if the debt continues to trouble you, filing for bankruptcy may be your best option.

Renewing Your Registration

If you managed to get your vehicle back after repossession, you might have trouble renewing your registration. Some states require a title to be placed in the creditor’s name after it has been repossessed. Santander states that it will make every effort to get the title back into your name, but your help may be required to do so. If you’re having trouble renewing your registration, contact the Santander title department at (800) 526-0157.

Raising Your Credit Score

Having your car repossessed is not kind to your credit score. In fact, it will show up on your credit report for seven years. Initially, it will have a significant impact on your score, though the significance will lessen over time. Your credit will be clean again (the repossession won’t be there anymore) seven years after the original delinquency date — that is, if your car is repossessed, the seven-year period begins on the date of the first missed payment that led to the repossession.

If you’re able to pay off the deficiency on your loan or set up a repayment plan with Santander, you may be able to improve your score more quickly. You may also want to request that Santander report the loan as resolved. It can then be noted as “Paid in Full” or “Satisfied” on your report, lessening the impact.

In Summary

If you’re in danger of having your car repossessed, you’re not alone and you’re not without options. A missed payment doesn’t mean immediate repossession. You can expect to be charged a late fee by Santander if your payment is 15 days late and may see your car repossessed after two to three months of nonpayment. Santander is likely to work with you to reach a solution if you contact an account manager when you know you’re going to miss a payment. Selling a repossessed car is not as profitable for Santander as receiving the entire loan amount, so they will be willing to work with you in many cases, as long as you do your part and contact the company as soon as possible. If your car is repossessed, you may be able to redeem or reinstate your loan, or buy your car back at auction.

Want a change? Consider Capital One’s Repo Policy.

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