Can’t Afford Car Payment? Here Are 5 Things You Can Do

car keys and money on desk

If you can’t afford car payment expenses, you’ll find yourself stressed out like other auto loan borrowers in default. (Currently at a 19-year high!) It certainly sets off a chain reaction with personal and professional fallout that can set back for years the overall progress of your life.

In the following article, we’ll be talking about what you can do to get your power back. It won’t always be pretty but it will give you the knowledge you need to set your life back on track. Let’s begin!

1. Request a Forbearance 

Here’s the thing. Most lenders don’t want to go through the hassle of repossessing a car or fighting you in court. They’ll do it if they have to but would much prefer seeing the loan through to completion. 

If you’re having difficulties making payments, ask for a one-month forbearance. We wouldn’t recommend going any longer than that because a) it might be hard to get approval, and b) one missed payment can usually buy you some time or right the ship altogether.

Besides, if you do get a forbearance and do right by the lender, he or she will be more likely to give you another should you run into financial hardship six months or a year down the road. Try it as a first resort.

2. Refinance

When making payments on a car gets to be too much, it may be time to refinance. Want to go this route? Consider bundling your loan with any other debts that you may have that are at high-interest rates.

You may end up paying longer on the car than you would have otherwise. But if it gets your payments on everything else down to a point where you can budget, it’s easier to regain control of your finances from there.

3. Have Someone Take Over Your Payments

Another step you might consider when learning how to return a car you can’t afford is to sign your interest over to someone who can afford the payments. If going this route, make sure you handle everything officially through an accredited financial institution. Family, friend, or stranger, you leave yourself open to serious liabilities otherwise.

4. Consider Trading

Something else that may help with car payment woes is deciding to trade it in on a more affordable car. This may not necessarily be the route you want to go. But if it keeps you on the road and going to work every day, it’s a smarter option than most.

5. Sell It

Selling a used car isn’t as much of a challenge as you’re probably thinking. But if you’re desperate to unload the car, there is a danger in not getting enough out of it to handle any remaining debt you may have on the vehicle. Even so, it usually helps defray enough of the cost that you can get your head back above water with minimal extra effort.

Bankruptcy and Repossession

The last thing we want to cover what to do if you can’t afford your car is more of something that happens to you rather than an active choice. Frankly, no one wants the massive credit hit that comes with bankruptcy or repossession.

But if it comes to that, just know there is a way through it. It’ll take some time to restore your credit and get lenders to trust you again. It’s not the end, though. 

Next Time You Can’t Afford Car Payment? 

The next time you’re worried you can’t afford car payment expenses, consider the options we’ve presented here. Particularly, pay attention to the five active choices that you can make outside of bankruptcy or repossession.

Each of these provides a way through and a chance to hit the reset button. And for more auto-related tips, check out some of our other posts.