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Most of us will obtain a vehicle loan at some time. This loan will be one of the most substantial debts we get. Yet, when getting this loan, the decision will often be impulsive, made without taking the time to consider its cost carefully. As time passes, paying for the vehicle may become unaffordable. People often need to analyze why this happens. For example, the financial circumstances might change because your income decreases or other obligations have increased. Or the car may turn out to be a lemon or lose its value for several reasons.

In the law, none of these reasons matter.

To “do the right thing,” someone might voluntarily return the vehicle. In contrast, others will discover that a “repo man” has towed their ride in the middle of the night.’

In the law, none of these reasons matter either.

The result, however, really does matter. Whenever lenders repossess a vehicle, the already hard-strapped borrower will learn about an all-too-common problem with the unclear and technical description called a “vehicle deficiency.”

Here is how it happens – 

  • You sign a vehicle loan contract. Although you might be the car buyer, often you believe you are only “secondary” on the note. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter who has the vehicle. Anyone that signed the loan paperwork is 100% responsible for paying it. There is no such thing as being “the secondary.” The secondary is usually the person that must pay the deficiency since they became involved because the “real borrower” had bad credit.
  • No one made the payments. It doesn’t matter if the car was repossessed or returned voluntarily.
  • The creditor sells the vehicle at a huge loss, often at a rigged auction reserved “for car dealers only.”
  • The creditor sues everyone that signed the vehicle loan, seeking payment of the difference between the net sale proceeds and the loan balance.
  • The creditor obtains a Court judgment, and this judgment affects everyone that signed the vehicle loan.
  • The creditor finds someone named on the Court judgment with a job and garnishes their wages.
  • The creditor finds the person on the judgment with a bank account and seizes the money in the account.
  • The creditor records their judgment with the County Recorder, which puts a lien on every person named on the judgment who owns real estate.

Here is why it happens –

  • You bought a vehicle that was too expensive for your income.
  • You lost your job or suffered other unexpected financial problems.
  • You cosigned a vehicle for a partner, child, other family members, or friend.
  • The vehicle turned out to be a lemon or wasn’t worth what you thought.


Would you like more information about ways to solve a vehicle deficiency? Request a same-day call back from our team at (702) 551-3256 or schedule a comprehensive consultation with bankruptcy attorney Dorothy Bunce. The initial consultation is always free.

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