I had a phone call here at my Houston bankruptcy law office today, from a lady that had her car repossessed. She had financed it at one of those corner lots, "buy here, pay here lots," where people can buy a vehicle and finance it without a credit check. But she had to put $3,000 down. After making 3-4 payments, she was late with one, and they immediately repossessed it.
Because she was delinquent on payments, the car lot "accelerated" the loan, or called it all due. They won't let her just pay the back payments and the repo fee; they want the entire balance of the loan. So unless she does something quickly, they will be able to keep her big down payment, re-sell the car to someone else, get another big down payment, and if they get behind, repossess it again, etc.
Hopefully this particular lady will be able to find a friend or relative to just pay the balance and "redeem" the car, that is, pay off the car and get the title to it. If not, one option that people have, particularly if they have other debt problems, is to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Once filed, a court order or automatic stay goes into effect, which, once the creditor is notified, prevents the creditor from selling the vehicle. Then it is possible to demand the return of the vehicle, and in my experience, we are almost always able to obtain the return of the vehicle. If not, we bring an action or adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court, asking the bankruptcy judge to hold the car creditor in contempt of court, for violating the automatic stay.
Then, we propose a Chapter 13 plan to pay for the vehicle over the term of the Chapter 13 plan, usually with greatly reduced interest, and at a level that the client can afford. Obviously you want to avoid having your vehicle repossessed, but if you do, and there is no other reasonable option, filing chapter 13 bankruptcy can save your bacon. Some of my clients would lose their job if they didn't have reliable transportation, so getting their car back is very important.