Despite our best intentions, circumstance sometimes forces us into compromised situations. And, as embarrassing as it might be, we have to seek some sort of help. Here’s what to do If you’ve found yourself in a situation in which can’t make your car payments.

Talk to Your Lender

Wade through voicemail hell to get one of your lender’s customer service reps on the phone. Explain your situation — don’t worry, they’ve heard it all before — and tell them what you’re prepared to do to put it right. Think about it before you call, though. Run the numbers and be certain the solution you propose is one up to which you can reliably live.

Hopefully, you can modify your loan with a forbearance plan and move forward. If your credit is strong and you’ve not had problems like this in the past, the odds are in your favor in this regard.

After all, the bank wants the money more than they want the car.

The key is to set this in motion before you miss that first payment.

Refinance the Loan

Again, this is a move best made before you miss a payment. If your credit history is good and the value of the car is enough to pay off the original loan with a new loan, you might be able to lower your payments enough to make them affordable.

A refinancing car loan from a company like RoadLoans can sometimes be had at a lower interest rate, or with a longer repayment term. These changes can reduce the amount of the monthly payment you’ll need to make to keep the car.

Sell the Car

Sell the car while your credit is still good, pay it off and get a less costly one. This can be a solid strategy if the market value of the car is more than the balance of the outstanding loan.

A similar play is finding someone to assume the loan (or lease as the case may be). If you negotiated some really good terms, this could be an easy find. There are a number of websites out there specializing in putting people in your situation together with people looking to get nice cars at a more affordable price. Inform your lender before you do this so you can ensure responsibility for the loan is shifted to the person assuming it.

Give the Car Back to the Lender

This should be one of your absolute last resorts. You’ll still be on the hook for any difference in the amount for which the lender sells the car and what you owe. And you can bet they’ll sell it at a wholesale price — not retail.

Further, it will be listed on your credit report as a default, which will lower your credit score significantly. You’ll then be looked at as a subprime borrower, which means you’ll pay huge interest on any loan you can find.

Still, this is better than letting the car be repossessed. Your credit score will drop. The lender will add the fees they paid the repo company to come get the car to your loan balance. Plus, you’ll run the risk of coming out of a grocery store with your kids and a shopping cart full of groceries to find your car gone.

Knowing what to do if you can’t make your car payment can save you a lot of time, money and anxiety. The critical factor is to do everything you can to right the situation the moment you see a missed payment might be on the horizon. You’ll have far better options if you avail yourself of one of these solutions before you miss a payment.