Most people understand it is important to live within your means. Yet, for many Americans, that includes financing a vehicle with affordable monthly payments. However, considering unforeseen expenses and changes in income, things happen.

If you are in debt, struggling to make your car payments, you are not alone. Despite low unemployment rates, 7 million Americans are at least 90 days behind on their car loan payments. Knowing others are in similar situations can provide some comfort. However, if you are struggling, you may have concerns about how long you can keep your car from being repossessed.

There may be options available

Whether you use your vehicle for business, running the kids to and from practice or rely on it to get to work, keeping your car is probably important to you. And while some of your options may not seem favorable to you, it is important to remember that there may be some things you can do to help with your financial situation.

· Loan extension. In some situations, your lender might be willing to work with you to extend the length of your loan by adding your missed payments onto the end of your loan. While this would increase the length of time you would be making payments, it would eliminate your need to make extra payments now in order to catch up.

· Loan repayment plan. Depending on the specifics of your case, your lender may consider collecting an additional amount of money each month, over any above the terms of your specified loan payment, to help you get back on track. Although this may be difficult initially, it could be a means of keeping your car without extending the length of your loan.

· Sell your vehicle. Although the goal is to keep your vehicle, selling your current vehicle to purchase a more affordable one might be a good choice. While that may not be exactly what you want, it could provide the solution you need.

· File bankruptcy. Many people believe that you automatically lose everything when you file bankruptcy, but that is not necessarily the case. Every situation is unique, and bankruptcy often provides options to regain control of a financial situation that has gotten out of hand. Filing bankruptcy could help you regain your financial stability while, in many cases, keeping your vehicle.

That auto loan debt exceeded $1.1 trillion in 2017 may be no surprise. However, comprising 9 percent of America’s debt, auto loans come in third behind mortgages (nearly 68 percent) and student loans (just shy of 11 percent).

Regardless of how you got into debt, or how hopeless your situation may seem, it is important to remember there is likely a way you can recover financially. Admitting there is a problem and exploring your options are steps in the right direction.