Auto Loans


Most auto loans involve credit you used to purchase a vehicle. You may also have taken out a title loan on a vehicle you owned. Are you having trouble making payments on your auto loan? Read below to learn more about your rights and COVID-19-related resources.


What happens if you cannot make payments on your car loan?

If you stop making payments, the lender that has a lien on your automobile may declare you in “default” on your loan. Generally, if you do not make a payment within a certain time after a payment is due, you will be considered in default. Also, a common default condition is not maintaining the required insurance. Read your credit contract to determine what default conditions apply to you.

Once you’re in default, the owner of the loan may “accelerate” the credit contract, which means the owner can tell you that you must pay the entire loan. If you do not do so, then the owner of the loan may seek to repossess your car and sell it in order to cover the balance owed on the loan. Each state has its own laws about when the account can be accelerated, and what notices, if any, must be sent. Generally, at minimum you must be given a notice of sale before the owner of the loan that has repossessed your vehicle can sell it, so you have an opportunity pay off the loan and get your vehicle back. If you do not pay off the loan and your car is sold, you should also receive a notice regarding how much the vehicle was sold for and any charges associated with the repossession and sale. Any money left on the loan balance that the money from the sale of the vehicle does not cover is called a “deficiency balance.” Check your state’s laws regarding what protections are available to you in such situations.

The other danger you face if your auto lender places your loan in “default” is damage to your credit report. See Protecting Your Credit

Some states have taken action to prohibit repossessions and even debt collection during this crisis. For example, in Illinois, the governor has issued Governor’s Executive Order 2020-16 which prohibits self-help repossessions from March 27, 2020 through the end of the declared emergency. And in Massachusetts: the attorney general issued emergency regulation 940 C.M.R. 35.00 which will apply for 90 days or when the state of emergency expires, whichever comes first. The provision provides that it is unfair or deceptive for any creditor to repossess a motor vehicle; visit to the consumer's household or place of employment; or communicate in person with the consumer. Other states have made the suspension of repossessions and cooperation with consumers voluntary, but have recommended or asked that lenders do so. Most reputable and reasonable lenders will do so.


What should you do if you cannot pay your car loan because of COVID-19?

Reputable auto lenders are offering individual programs to assist borrowers who cannot make their car payment because of the COVID-19 crisis. Most of these are doing so only when the consumer contacts the lender directly.

It is important that you immediately contact your lender to request assistance. Lenders are under significant governmental, media and practical pressure to cooperate with impacted consumers to prevent them from defaulting on their loan, losing their automobile or suffering credit report damage.

Importantly, the COVID-19, or CARES Act, passed by Congress, prohibits negative credit reporting for consumers who receive a waiver, deferral or other relief from their lender. For example, if you request to skip three monthly payments (90-day deferral), and the lender agrees, as most will, the lender and credit bureaus are not allowed to report that deferral as a negative or derogatory event or payment status. It cannot harm your credit score. However, if you do not contact the lender and confirm its agreement, the missed payments may hurt your credit.

Different lenders are offering various relief for borrowers experiencing trouble with making loan payments (see below section for how to determine who your lender is). Some lenders are open about the relief, detailing it on their webpage, while others provide you details on a “case-by-case” basis when you contact the lender.

Payment deferrals. The lender allows you to miss (usually between 2 and 4) payments without a late charge or credit damage. With a deferral, you won’t have to make a payment until your extension period ends. After the extension period ends, you resume making your regularly-scheduled auto payments, and your contract will be extended by the number of months your payment was deferred. However, your loan will still accrue interest.

Payment reductions. You may ask your lender to allow you to make smaller payments for a fixed number of months.

Waive late fees. You may ask the lender to allow you to pay late, but without incurring any late charge.

Lease extensions. If you lease an automobile, and your lease is about to end, you may ask your lender to extend the lease.

Turn in automobile. Under some circumstances, where your car is worth significantly less than you owe on your loan, it may make sense to contact the lender and arrange to have the vehicle voluntarily repossessed.

Below is a list of resources available from different lenders. Keep in mind that for almost all lenders, you need to contact the lender to request assistance.

With the large number of consumers contacting banks and lenders, it may take some time to get through by phone. Many lenders allow you to request deferral by online form. Others have “Chat” functions that usually provide quicker access than by telephone. Lenders also suggest that customers use their Mobile or Online accounts (or sign up for one) in order to obtain relief without having to speak to an agent.

You may also find helpful suggested telephone numbers from other consumer websites such as Dial a Human. []


Major Lenders

Note: Current as of 4/3/2020. Contact your lender for up to date information.

Lender & Relief Link
Ally is offering 120-day deferral upon request. Customers who need relief are encouraged to enroll in Ally’s auto online services to defer payments online and avoid long wait times on the phone.
Bank of America
Bank of America is offering loan payment deferrals and pausing repossessions. The best way to contact BoA is through its customer “chat” function. The bank says many questions, including those related to the coronavirus, can be answered by Bank of America’s virtual assistant, Erica, which is available online or through the mobile app.
BMW Financial Services
BMW Financial Services is urging customers in need of financial or account assistance to contact it to discuss assistance. It is working with customers on a case-by-case basis.
Capital One Auto Finance
Capital One Auto Finance is offering financial relief options upon request, including limiting fees, providing minimum payment assistance and offering deferred loan payments.
CarMax Auto Finance
CarMax Auto Finance is automatically waiving all late fees effective March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2020. Customers may also be eligible for a payment extension of up to 60 days for those impacted by COVID-19. Contact CarMax to obtain a payment extension: 800-925-3612.
Chase Auto
Chase Auto is offering 3 month deferral upon request.
Chrysler Capital (Fiat-Chrysler or FCA) (Also may be through Ally or Santander) Chrysler Capital is assisting current customers who reach out to it. Relief includes expanded payment deferrals, waiver of late charges, and extensions for lessees unable to return their vehicles. Call 1-855-563-5635 to discuss potential relief options. Link
Credit Acceptance
Credit Acceptance advises borrowers to call 1-800-634-1506 to discuss arrangements that fit your current financial situation.
Fifth Third Bank
Fifth Third Bank is offering auto loan payment deferral for up to 90 days, and you will not have to pay late fees. The bank is also pausing auto repossessions for 60 days.
Ford Motor Credit
Ford Motor Credit is offering flexible payment arrangements, as well as potential payment extensions on a case-by-case basis. Customers are encouraged to access their Account Manager profile either online at or, through the FordPass app, or through a special hotline at 1-800-723-4016.
GM Financial
GM Financial is offering payment relief, including payment deferrals, extensions and deferred lease payments on a case-by-case basis. It is also waiving late fees on loan and lease payments due between March 1 and April 30. (There’s no need to contact the company; the fees will be automatically waived.). The lender is also granting an automatic one-month extension to lease customers who can’t or don’t want to return their vehicles. It encourages customers to reach out by using their online account, the GM Financial Mobile app, or by texting INFO to 53721.
Honda Financial Services
Honda Financial Services is offering payment extensions and deferrals, as well as late fee waivers are available. You can request up to 60 days of deferred payments.
Huntington is offering up to 90 day payment deferral upon request
Hyundai Motor Finance
Hyundai Motor Finance is offering up to 3 month deferral upon request but must show proof of job loss and not be more than 90 days behind on payments. Additional deferment available for new car purchases between 3/14/20 and 4/30/20.
Kia Motor Finance
Kia Motor Finance is offering 30-day payment extensions to current customers who are providing care for themselves or a member of their household resulting from the current global health crisis and are temporarily not able to work. Customers can request 30-day payment extensions up to three times.
Lexus Financial Services
Lexis Financial Services if offering payment relief options. Call 1-800-874-7050 for more details. You can also reach out via the online support center after logging into your account at
Lightstream (Truist, SunTrust, BB&T)
Lightstream is offering payment deferrals to borrowers who are facing financial hardship due to an interruption in your income. To start this process, email lender at
Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
Mercedes-Benz Financial Services is offering assistance to customers who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus. Call 1-800-654-6222.
Nissan Motor Acceptance
Nissan Motor Acceptance may offer payment deferrals to both retail and lease customers based on each customer’s current situation. Call 1-800-456-6622.
Old Point National Bank
Old Point National is offering deferrals for auto loan payments. Call 1-757-728-1290.
PNC Bank
PNC Bank is offering up to 90 day payment deferral upon request with no late fees during the postponement period.
Santander Consumer USA
Santander Consumer USA is assisting current customers who reach out including: expanded payment deferrals, waiver of late charges, and extensions for lessees unable to return their vehicles. Call 1-855-563-5635 to discuss potential relief options.
TD Auto
TD Auto is offering deferment of payments and waiver of late payment fees. For easier service and to request financial relief, use lender’s Secure Message Center.Or call 1-800-556-8172.
Toyota Financial Services
Toyota Financial Services is offering payment relief options. Call 1-800-874-7050. You can also reach out via the online support center after logging into your account at
US Bank
US Bank may provide hardship relief. Call 1-888-287-7817.
USAA is offering special payment assistance programs for eligible members including a 60-day payment extension. Call 855-764-4617.
Wells Fargo Bank
Wells Fargo Bank is suspending involuntary automobile repossessions. The lender also is offering fee waivers, payment deferrals and other expanded assistance for customers who contact the company. Customers experiencing hardship from the coronavirus can call 800-219-9739.
Other lenders
Contact your lender directly to see what options are available.


What should you do when you contact your lender for assistance?

Contact the financial institution that owns your loan and ask for a payment deferral and interest rate reduction. If that is refused, ask what can be provided. Keep notes about when you asked, how you contacted the lender, who you communicated with and what relief you were given. If relief is granted, ask that confirmation be sent you by email, text, or US mail. If you cannot get some written confirmation, then write your own letter back that confirms who gave you the relief and what specifically was given. Keep a copy of that letter or any confirmation you receive back. In the future, you may need that confirmation. Remember, you are modifying an existing written agreement, and you want to have written confirmation of any modification. The written confirmation also helps reduce any miscommunication about what relief you were provided.

If you are given relief, you should also check to be sure that the information being reported by credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) is accurate. If you are being reported late even though you are complying with the relief plan, then you need to send a written dispute to the credit reporting agency that includes a copy of the written documentation of the relief you were given.


What if my lender will not help?

If you are not able to work out an arrangement with your lender, consult with an attorney in your state. Protections vary by state, such as some requiring a notice before your car is repossessed. However, your state may have additional general protections and there may be other protections specific to COVID-19 that your state has passed.

Your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may also be implicated. Please consult that page to learn more.



Here are some additional tips to consider if you are having trouble making payments on your car loan:

  1. Contact your lender to learn about hardship programs available.
  2. Read your credit contract.
    1. Check when your payments are due.
    2. Check if there’s a grace period if you’re late.
    3. Check what conditions put you in default.
  3. If you are able to work out an arrangement with your lender, be sure to get it in writing and keep a copy of that writing.
  4. If you are not able to work out an arrangement with your lender, consult with an attorney in your state to learn more.
    1. If you have trouble finding an attorney, try contacting your local legal aid or bar association.
    2. You can also go to and choose the Find an Attorney link and search for lawyers in your state.

Additional Resources

Below are some additional resources to learn more about auto loans and COVID-19.

  1. Major Consumer Protections Announced in Response to COVID-19 (NCLC):
  2. How to Get Legal Assistance (NCLC):
  3. Protecting your finances during the Coronavirus Pandemic (CFBP):