In a Nutshell

Title loan companies have several ways to find your car if you don’t make your payments. They use basic information from your loan application and credit report first and then use other tactics, such as checking local neighborhoods or accessing public information. 

Repossession companies can take your car from public areas but cannot access cars locked in garages or harass you to get access to the vehicle.

When you borrow a title loan, you agree to make regular loan payments, usually monthly. Title loan lenders use a credit check, as well as your income and the equity in your car, to determine if you can make the payments. However, life happens, and you may be unable to afford your payments after a while.

If you miss too many auto loan payments, the lender may start the vehicle repossession process. This allows them to take possession of your vehicle for violating the loan agreement. They may then sell the vehicle to recoup the funds.

But how do title loan companies find your car after missed payments on title loans?

Here’s what you can expect if you have missed payments and are at risk of car repossession.

How Does the Repo Man Find Your Car?

Title loan and repo companies must follow the repossession laws in your state when locating your vehicle after you miss your car payments, but they have many resources to find your car.

Steps a Title Loan Company Takes to Find Your Car

1. Utilizes Info From Your Loan Application, Including Addresses

The first step most lenders and repossession companies use is to look at your loan application. You disclosed your home and work address when you applied for the auto loan. There is also information on your credit reports they can use. These are often the first places title lenders look for your vehicle since that’s where your car will most likely be.

2. Explore Nearby Neighborhoods if Your Car Cannot Be Located

If the repo man cannot find your car at your home or workplace, he will check areas around the neighborhoods where you spend the most time. They do this to determine if you’ve tried ‘hiding’ the vehicle to avoid repossession.

3. Uses Public Information, Including Social Media, to Track Your Location

During the repossession process, repo men can use any information, including public information and social media. For example, if you’re tagged in a photo or you tag your location, the repo man may start combing those areas to find your car. This could be a local restaurant, the grocery store, or anywhere else you frequent.

4. Uses Installed GPS Tracking Devices to Locate Your Car

Some title loan companies install GPS tracking devices in cars when borrowers receive a title loan. This device tells the lender or repo company the exact location of your vehicle.

What Can Repossession Companies Do?

State laws determine what repossession companies can and cannot do. The law protects both the borrower and the auto lender. Here’s what repossession companies can do:

  • Repossess your car from your yard or driveway: If there is clear access to your vehicle in the driveway or street, the repo man can take your vehicle.
  • Repossess your car from an open public space: If your car is in a parking lot with open access, the title loan lender can repossess your vehicle from the location.
  • Notify you of the intent to repossess your vehicle: Your title loan lender should send you advance notice in writing of the intent to repossess your vehicle.
  • Track your whereabouts to locate your vehicle: Repo agents can watch your house and follow you when you leave, repossessing the vehicle wherever you stop.

What can Repossession Companies Not Do?

There are some things repossession companies cannot do, including the following:

  • Enter a locked gate or garage to access the vehicle: Repo agents cannot enter your personal property to collect the vehicle. They must wait until it’s in the open.
  • Harass, threaten, or use physical force to get the vehicle: If a repo agent threatens you or makes you feel unsafe, contact the police to file a report.
  • Move another car to get to your vehicle: The repo man must have clear access to your vehicle to repossess it; they cannot move another car out of the way.

How Repossession Works

Depending on your loan contract, repossession can occur after just one missed payment. Always read the fine print on your car loan to determine if and when the lender could take possession of the vehicle.

If the title loan lender repossesses your vehicle, they must notify you of its location and how much you owe to get it back. Some states require that you pay the full balance owed, plus fees. Other states allow you to pay a reinstatement amount equal to the missing payments. You may also have the option to attend the auction, where the lender sells your vehicle to try to be the highest bidder.

If you don’t recoup the vehicle and the lender sells it, you may still be on the hook for a deficiency balance. This is the difference between the loan amount owed on the car note and the price the lender received from selling the car. Lenders can sue you for the difference to collect the amount owed.


How Do Loan Companies Track Your Car?

Loan companies have many ways to track your car using the information they have about you and your home and work life. They can also use publicly available information, which is easy with the transparency of the internet. The key is never to hide it, as that can be against the law and land you in legal trouble.

How Does a Repo Man Find Your Car Without GPS?

Repo agents don’t need GPS to find your car. While it makes their jobs easier, they can locate your car using other information and tracking your typical whereabouts.

What Happens If The Repo Company Never Finds Your Car?

If the repo company cannot locate your vehicle, they may resort to filing a lawsuit against you. The lawsuit, if filed in the lender’s favor, would require you to legally hand over the car or pay the amount owed.

Can a Repo Man Follow You?

As long as repo agents don’t threaten or harass you, they can follow your whereabouts. They may resort to this if you keep your car hidden or locked behind something they cannot access. When your car is in an open, public space, they can then take it.

Can a Repo Man Come at Night?

Many repo agents operate at night because they are less likely to deal with conflict from the car’s owner and can easily access the car if it’s in an open area.

Final Thoughts

Your car can be repossessed after just one missed payment if you don’t repay your loan as agreed. If you are unable to make your payments, it’s important to talk to your lender to determine your options.

Your car cannot be repossessed unlawfully, but if it’s in an open, public area, it can be repossessed. There may be options to get your car back, but it’s best to avoid repossession in the first place when possible.

Written by Samantha Hawrylack

Written by

Samantha Hawrylack

Samantha Hawrylack writes for our company and is an expert in personal finance. Sam received her Bachelors of Science in Finance and her Masters in Business Administration from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She began her career in the financial services industry and shifted to an entrepreneurial role where she could directly impact clients. Sam has an impressive background in personal finance and business management.