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Coronavirus: What to do if you can’t afford your car repayments

Can't afford your car loan repayments because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Here's what to do.

Last updated:

The impact of coronavirus on the financial health of vast numbers of Australians has been staggering. With so many people being forced to go on sick leave, losing vital sources of income or their jobs altogether, a huge number of Aussies are struggling to meet their car loan repayments. On a positive note, many lenders are addressing the issue to help customers with their repayments. If you have a car loan and can't afford the repayments as a result of COVID-19, find out what options are available to you below.

Father and son with face protective mask to prevent Coronavirus in the car

What do I do if I can't pay my car loan on time as a result of COVID-19?

First and foremost, if you are unable to make your car loan repayments on time as a result of COVID-19, it's imperative that you contact your finance provider. You may have a car loan from a bank or other financial institution, or you may have a finance arrangement through your car dealership.

Bank loans

Most lenders have financial hardship measures in place already for unforeseen circumstances. These circumstances usually include illness, unemployment or a family breakdown. As coronavirus could be the catalyst for any one of these events, there's a chance that your lender will be able to assist regarding the outbreak.

Once you've contacted your credit provider, it may organise for you:

  • A freeze on your interest
  • Waiving your fees
  • More time to pay
  • A flexible payment arrangement
  • A smaller payment to settle the debt

Dealership loans

A number of car manufacturers are also offering assistance to car owners who have finance arrangements through a dealership in this time of crisis. So far, the manufacturers offering hardship assistance include Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, Nissan and Toyota.

If your manufacturer is not offering coronavirus relief measures, it's important that you still get in touch to inform it of your situation. And please remember that new measures are being put in place regularly. This means that even if your manufacturer has not yet responded to the pandemic, it may soon.

Are the banks offering relief for car loan customers during COVID-19?

While many banks are focussing on relief for small business borrowers, personal and car loan borrowers are still being taken into account by many lenders in the face of COVID-19.

Which banks are offering repayment deferrals in response to COVID-19?

These are the banks offering car loan repayment deferrals as a direct result of COVID-19:

  • Bank Australia
  • Bank of Queensland
  • HSBC
  • IMB Bank
  • Macquarie Bank
  • Suncorp
  • Westpac

What else are banks doing to help customers during COVID-19?

Below we've outlined which banks are offering assistance during COVID-19 and what car loan customers can expect from each institution:

ANZ

As of yet, ANZ has only specified aid to home loan and small business customers. However, this may change as time goes on. If you can't repay your ANZ car loan on time, it's still important to contact it as soon as possible.

Australian Military Bank

Australian Military Bank has addressed concerns over COVID-19 and its general enquiries hotline is open for business as usual. Personal loan customers with Australian Military Bank can contact the lender directly if they are facing financial hardship, to discuss their situation.

Bank Australia

Bank Australia is offering assistance to any and all of its customers that are affected by COVID-19. Car loan assistance includes:

  • Scheduled loan repayment deferrals
  • Interest-free periods
  • No interest rate increases
  • Fee waivers
  • Debt consolidation

Bank of Queensland

If you're a car loan customer of the Bank of Queensland and are struggling to meet repayments or need financial assistance as a result of COVID-19, you could be entitled to:

  • Deferring your repayments
  • Opting to make interest-only repayments
  • Fees and charge waivers for late or non-payment
  • Other special arrangements in relation to arrears
  • Early access to term deposit funds with fee waivers

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

The Bendigo and Adelaide group is offering customers both assistance with current loans and the ability to qualify for additional finance to help with financial strain. Its COVID-19 measures include:

  • Waiver of fees for the restructuring of loans
  • Waiver of fees for the consolidation of loans
  • Discounted interest rates on personal loans taken out by existing Bendigo Bank customers
  • Early access to term deposit funds with fee waivers

CommBank

Although CommBank is only extending financial help to business customers, if you can't repay your CommBank car loan, you should still contact the bank directly. Branches are being kept open for longer to assist personal customers and your case may be considered.

CUA

CUA is addressing the coronavirus pandemic by implementing some measures to:

  • Assist with managing car loan repayments
  • Waiving fees

HSBC

HSBC is offering support to all customers affected by coronavirus. If you're facing financial difficult as a result of COVID-19 and you have an HSBC car loan, you might expect:

  • Deferred scheduled loan repayments
  • Waived fees or charges
  • Interest-free periods

IMB Bank

If you have an IMB Bank car loan, IMB is employing relief measures. These measures include:

  • Restructuring of loans
  • Suspension of payments
  • Waiving of fees and charges

ING

ING has not yet specified what measures it's taking in regard to those affected by COVID-19. However, a specialist support hotline for those facing financial difficulties has been set up for those experiencing financial difficulties (1300 349 166).

Macquarie Bank

Macquarie Bank is taking coronavirus measures seriously and employing its measures transparently. You can expect:

  • An immediate six-month deferral period on all car loan repayments

NAB

At the moment, NAB has only responded to coronavirus in regard to financially assisting home loan and business customers. However, the bank is monitoring the progress of the pandemic and new updates may be released in time.

Suncorp

Suncorp has responded to the coronavirus pandemic by offering support to all of its customers. Measures for car loan customers unable to meet their repayments as a result of COVID-19 include:

  • Deferment of loan repayments (including interest only) on a case-by-case basis
  • The option to change to interest-only repayments
  • Waiving of fees and charges for withdrawing from a term deposit or farm management fund
  • No interest rate increases

St.George Bank

St.George Bank has so far only specified relief measures for its home loan, small business, term deposit and transaction account customers. However, if you have a car loan with St.George Bank, you can call St.George Assist to discuss your claim.

Westpac

Westpac is offering support measures for personal and business banking customers. As a car loan customer, you may be able to:

  • Defer your repayments in the short term
  • Reduce your repayments in the short term

What if my car loan provider doesn't have a COVID-19 relief plan?

If your bank isn't featured above and you can't find evidence of a coronavirus relief plan on its website, try not to worry. Lenders will still often have forms of financial hardship assistance in place for unforeseen circumstances. Contact your lender directly and see if it can help. If your lender refuses to help, contact a free financial adviser.

Which car manufacturers are offering support during this time?

How car makers are assisting those in financial hardship
Car manufacturers have begun announcing that there is support available for customers who are struggling to meet finance payments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world. So far, we have information for Volkswagen, Toyota and BMW owners, but we are updating this page all the time. If you work for a carmaker in the financial division, please get in touch!

If you're struggling financially due to COVID-19, check out our guide on what financial help may be available to you during the coronavirus pandemic.

Car companies offering support during this time

Updated: 20/3/23 with Ford Australia and Nissan Australia comments

Volkswagen

Volkswagen Financial Services Australia (VWFS) has published information about how it plans to help those affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This applies to those who are VW car loan customers.

How VWFS will help customers

Finance customers who find themselves unable to meet car loan repayments as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak are being reassured that VWFS will do the "best" they can to help. It is not explained in detail the extent to which they can assist, though a financial hardship request form found online does reveal some of the details they'll likely need.

You'll have to give Volkswagen the reason for your current hardship. Reasons listed include:

  • Unemployment
  • Overcommitment
  • Illness, injury, death
  • Reduced income
  • Business failure
  • Family break down
  • Other (to be specified)

It will also need to know the expected duration of the financial difficulty, with three months or less classified as short term and everything else considered long term.

The form goes on to ask for a break down of your monthly income and expenditure. There's a section where you can explain how much you'd like to pay towards your loan, if anything at all, and whether you can foresee your circumstances changing.

Volkswagen will also need to see information such as:

  • VWFSA contract number/s
  • Payslip
  • Tax return
  • Letter of employment
  • BAS statement
  • Centrelink statement
  • Bank statement
  • Other supporting documents

I need help with my VWFS repayments

VWFSA is urging any customers in trouble to communicate with the Hardship Assistance Team:

Email

assist@vwfs.com.au

Phone

1300 734 567
Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm (AEST)

I have a Guaranteed Future Value contract due to mature in the next 30 days

Volkswagen Financial Services states the following about any Guaranteed Future Value contracts that are due to complete in the next month:

VW Guaranteed Future Value contracts

If you have an existing Guaranteed Future Value (GFV) contract that is due to mature in the next month, and have been impacted by COVID-19, please contact remarketing@vwfs.com.au if you are unable to trade-in or return your vehicle at your dealership. If you would like to retain your vehicle, please contact retention@vwfs.com.au.

Which car companies does the VW statement extend to?

Volkswagen Financial Services has published the above information on its own website. Audi and Skoda are subsidiaries of this company, but at the time of writing, we couldn't access their respective domains to verify their commitments to customers in need.

Toyota

Toyota Finance Australia Limited has not discussed in detail its COVID-19 policies for impacted customers, but it has placed a message on its website, stating the following:

Toyota Finance Australia Limited statement

Toyota Finance is currently operating business as usual. However, if you require support due to hardship, please contact us at disasterhardship@toyota.com.au to discuss your situation.

The FAQ section on the Toyota Finance website sheds more light on the conditions attached to financial hardship.

It defines financial hardship as not being able to, rather than not wanting to, meet your repayment agreement. It lists the following as unforeseen factors:

  • Loss of employment
  • Family breakdown
  • Illness
  • Injury or death of family member
  • Can include impact arising from natural disasters, i.e fires or floods

They state it may be possible to defer payments, capitalise arrears, initiate a moratorium or reduce the monthly payments.

You'll need to fill out a hardship application to Toyota. Once received, a representative from the hardship team will contact you to see how you'd like to proceed.

The contact details, as listed in the FAQs section are:

  • The Hardship Team, Toyota Finance, PO Box 1354, Macquarie Park NSW 2113
  • 137 200
  • hardship@toyota.com.au

Ford Australia

Ford's Australia and New Zealand CEO, Kay Hart published the following statement on Twitter:

The comment: "Our partner myFord FINANCE is proactively reaching out to retail customers about ways they can support them" indicates Ford may be able to arrange some sort of hardship assistance for finance customers where it is needed.

Nissan Australia

Nissan Australia hasn't published anything specifically mentioning the coronavirus pandemic, but it does have hardship assistance information on its Nissan Finance Services page.

You should contact nfsassist@nissan.com.au for hardship cases. You'll need the paperwork for your finance agreement and they'll likely ask for other supporting documentation from you, so get them together beforehand. You could potentially try calling the Customer Experience Team on 1800 035 035, but there are no operating hours given. You should do this as soon as you encounter difficulties.

BMW

BMW has a financial hardship assistance page on its website. BMW says that it understands that unexpected events in life such as changes in income, illness and emergency events (like natural disasters) can cause anyone to fall into financial difficulty.

COVID-19 is not specifically mentioned, but it does say that its "Hardship Consultants" may be able to:

  • Extend loan terms
  • Set temporary fixed or reduced payments below the current monthly amount
  • Arrange a short term moratorium, which is essentially an agreed-upon time period where you do not have to make a repayment
  • Defer repayments
  • Capitalise arrears

The contact details for the BMW Financial Services Hardship team are:

Email

hardship@bmwfinance.com.au

Phone

(+61) 3 9264 4118
Ask for a "Hardship Consultant"

Make sure you have together all the relevant documents, including:

  • Income and employment info
  • Your assets
  • Your liabilities
  • Information on how your circumstances have changed
  • Information on how you expect things may change in the future

What other options do I have if I'm facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19?

If you've lost your job or are facing other financial stress as a result of the pandemic, financial support doesn't end with your bank. You can opt to apply for JobSeeker Payment, contact a local charity such as the Salvation Army or your local community centre. If you're insured, you can also contact your insurance provider to see what you're covered for. Any one or all of these institutions may be able to help with your circumstances.

There are also measures that state governments are taking to help people facing financial problems as a result of COVID-19 being implemented. Measures include actions like freezing household bills and charges and student support services.


Work in a car maker's finance dept?

If you work in an automotive financial services department and want to let us know what your company is doing, please get in touch!

Image: Volkswagen

Top coronavirus guides

Other quick ways to save money

Are you worried about your finances during this time? Don't forget to review your bills - spending a little time on admin, could save you over the weeks and months to come.

Here are some guides on how to save some money on your daily expenses. There are plenty of things you could do, from checking your energy rates, switching to a low-interest credit card, or simply dropping parts of your insurance that you don't need.

Picture: GettyImages

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