Key takeaways

  • A co-signer or co-borrower can request a release from a car loan, refinance the loan, pay off the loan or sell the vehicle to remove themselves from the loan agreement.
  • It is important to communicate with the other borrower and come to an agreement on how to handle the loan before taking any action.
  • In the case of a relationship breakdown, it may be necessary to consult a divorce lawyer or check the vehicle title to determine the best course of action.
  • Failure to remove oneself from a co-signed or co-borrowed loan could result in a damaged credit score, even if the vehicle is no longer in the co-signer's possession.

Signing off as a co-signer or co-borrower on an auto loan can result in more competitive rates and terms. But life is unpredictable and if you need to exit a car loan, a few options are available. Here’s how to get a car out of your name.

Options if you co-signed a car loan

In the case of a co-signed loan, one borrower makes payments while the other takes on responsibility for continuing payments if the first defaults. If this is a situation you have found yourself in, consider the following options to remove your name from the loan.

But remember that you’ll need the primary borrower’s cooperation to pursue these options.

Get a co-signer release

While not all lenders offer this, a co-signer release is simply paperwork that removes the co-signer from the loan. Keep in mind that leaving can negatively impact the rates the now-primary borrower will receive, especially if your credit score is better than theirs.

Note that not all lenders will agree to a co-signer release if the primary borrower’s credit is still lacking.

Vehicle refinance

The process of refinancing essentially presents the primary borrower with an entirely new loan with a new lender. The new loan pays off the one to which you were attached as co-signer, freeing you from the obligation.

If you co-signed a vehicle because the primary borrower couldn’t qualify independently, finding a lender willing to refinance the loan could be a challenge. But consider shopping for a bad credit lender. Some refinance lenders now offer acceptance criteria outside of traditional credit scores, opening up your options.

Pay off the loan

Paying off the loan is the most straightforward manner to exit the loan agreement as it ends the loan. If this is a manageable option, you must contact the lender and pay off the current balance along with the payoff amount.

Once the loan is paid off in full, the responsibilities of both the primary borrower and the co-signer will end. Skip this choice if it furthers any financial strain you are experiencing.

Options if you co-borrowed a car loan

A co-borrower, on the other hand, holds equal responsibility with the other borrower for the loan and the vehicle. More than this, the title will be in the name of both co-borrowers. Here are some ways to remove yourself from the loan as a co-borrower.

Pay off the loan

As explained above, if you have the money, you can contact the lender and pay the agreed-upon amount. It’s easier to do this with a co-borrower situation than as a co-signer since, as a co-borrower, you have ownership rights to the car.

If this puts you in a tricky financial spot, it is not worth the additional risk. Remember that once the loan is paid off, you’ll still share ownership with your co-borrower.

Sell the vehicle

By selling the vehicle, you and the other borrower will be completely removed from the loan agreement. Before the final sale, you will need a signature and agreement from the other party.

Selling the vehicle may also give you the necessary cash to pay off any remaining loan balance.

Refinance the vehicle

Refinancing the car loan will give your co-borrower an entirely new loan, minus your involvement. Following approval, the remaining borrower will receive new refinancing rates and terms. Once it’s paid off, they will get to keep or sell the vehicle.

How to get a car out of your name if the other person isn’t cooperating

Any potential solutions rely on you and your co-signer or co-borrower communicating and agreeing on what to do. But that may be impossible if you need to exit a loan because of a relationship breakdown or another challenging situation.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much your lender can do in these situations. The lender has a financial stake in this conversation and the incentive to do what is needed until they get the balance paid back in full. And a legal agreement like co-signing or co-borrowing doesn’t end when a relationship does.

If you are going through a divorce, make sure to consult your divorce lawyer about handling the auto loan. Your separation agreement can lay out a course of action, along with consequences if one party or the other doesn’t stick to the agreement you reach.

It is also wise to examine the vehicle title. If the loan is joint, it will say “or” or “and/or.” These small conjunctions give you the power to sign as an owner of the vehicle.

The bottom line

If your circumstances have shifted and you need to get your name off a car loan, you can get a release, refinance, sell the vehicle or pay off the car loan.

To avoid any future headaches, check with the other borrower to ensure you are fully removed from the co-signed or co-borrowed auto loan. Otherwise, if the other party stops paying, you could be left with a damaged credit score even if you don’t have the vehicle in your possession.