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Buying A Car During Bankruptcy

June 20, 2010

There are a surprising number of options for a debtor to retain possession of a vehicle during bankruptcy.  Choosing the best option depends on several factors including your ability to pay and the condition of your vehicle.  In some cases the best financial option is to surrender your vehicle back to the bank and purchase a different one.   

Years ago it was unheard of for a debtor in an active bankruptcy to obtain an auto loan.  Several years ago two companies, 722 Redemption Funding, and Fresh Start Loan Corporation, began making auto loans to debtors in bankruptcy, and now many banks have lending programs for debtors.  The attitude towards bankruptcy has changed and many debtors are evaluated more on their future ability to pay the loan rather than their past financial trouble. 

Obtaining an auto loan during bankruptcy is a matter of showing stable income, a good debt-to-income ratio, and some assurance that your current financial trouble is unusual and not likely to reoccur.  All lenders require a loan application and the criteria for approval can vary significantly.  Some lenders will not approve a loan if you have had a prior repossession.  Other lenders want a substantial down payment.  New auto loans often want the bankruptcy discharged before approving the loan.  In all cases your vehicle choice will be restricted to a newer vehicle with low miles. 

During a Chapter 7 bankruptcy the debtor and the lender are free to negotiate terms outside of the bankruptcy case.  The loan is not a part of the case and is not affected by the bankruptcy discharge.  For Chapter 13 debtors, any new indebtedness must be approved by the trustee and the court.  In most cases the Chapter 13 debtor can obtain approval after a showing of need and ability to pay. 

If you are considering bankruptcy and need to buy a different vehicle, consult with an experienced attorney.  There are many different options during bankruptcy for retaining, refinancing, or purchasing a different vehicle.  Call today and get the information you need to drive your financial future.  

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