2010 Fall Car Guide
Couple in car
When your car loan is killing you

The consequences of missing payments
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You need to confront your car loan problem, says Eric Hoffman, spokesman for Americans Well-informed on Automobile Retailing Economics, a consumer-education organization in Washington D.C.

"It's very hard to confront that you don't have enough money, but if you don't, you can compound it," says Hoffman. "Try to make this call before you're late with a payment or you totally miss one. This will help keep your credit in good standing."

Auto finance companies want to work something out with you, Hoffman says. They want to avoid the cost of repossessing your car. "There's no incentive to repossess your car because that costs the financier about $8,000," says Hoffman.

Even if you voluntarily return the car to the finance company, it will show up as a negative on your credit report, says Williams.

You'll need to do some research before calling your lender. According to Hoffman, you should calculate the value of your car, how much you owe on the car loan and what you can reasonably pay.

Williams recommends you prepare a complete monthly budget that includes your reliable income, expenses and other credit obligations.

"Being prepared puts you in a good negotiating position," says Williams.




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