What is the Statute of Limitation on a car loan?

What is the Statute of Limitation on a car loan?Today we’re going to talk about how long the Statute of Limitation applies if you’ve been sued after a car repossession has already happened.

This is something that we’ve started to see more often.

Companies like Autovest, Velocity, and Cascade sue a consumer after a repossession has taken place, claiming that the consumer still owes money.

They say you owe a certain amount of money, then they repossess for a certain amount, and then say that you owe the difference of those amounts.

“How long can do they have to sue me under the Statute of Limitation?”

In a debt collection lawsuit, it’s 3 years.

The debt collection agencies think it’s 6 years, however that isn’t the case.

However, it’s different when you have bought a car through a dealership.

The collection companies will maintain that they have 6 years to sue you, but with a car loan they actually have 4 years to sue you.

There are exceptions, but generally the Statute of Limitation is 4 years.

If you have any questions about this, feel free to call us at 1-205-879-2447.

The reason that they have 4 years to sue is because of the UCC, or Uniform Commercial Code.

The UCC states that if there’s a dispute about the sale of a good, which covers vehicles, then each party has four years to sue, or work it out.

However, these companies tend to wait until it’s been 5 or 6 years, which is after the Statute of Limitations has expired.

This time limit doesn’t start when the repossession happens, however.

At some point after you stop making payments, the car company, which could be someone like Santander,  will decide that everything is due now.

Especially after a repossession.

This decision is what starts the clock running which is before the repossession.

If they wait longer than 4 years to sue you, and you haven’t made any payments they will put themselves in big trouble.

You should win your case in this situation, which gives you the opportunity for you to turn around and sue them for violating the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

Contact us.

If you live in the state of Alabama and you have any questions about what we’ve talked in about in this article, feel free to get in touch with us.

You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447, or you can fill out a contact form and we will be glad to get in touch with you.

I look forward to chatting with you soon!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts



  1. Kim Hastings says:

    I have a title loan in the state of alabama I have not paid on this loan in a year and a half they have not repossessed the vehicle as of yet I have called and requested they come get it they still have not it’s sitting on my property wasting away what can I do with the vehicle?

    • John Watts says:

      Kim, have they told you why they won’t come get it? What does your contract say about can you turn the vehicle in and not owe any money on it?

      Feel free to call us at 205-879-2447 and Carolyn can get some details over the phone and then set us up a phone call to discuss your options.


      John Watts

  2. Jenn says:

    HI. I just recently financed a truck through a dealership. I kept telling the salesman who was pressuring me that I need to sleep on it. He wouldn’t tell me price well after a few hours I decided to go ahead and go with it. It was closing time so the finance lady wasn’t there to go over paper work with me so he just said sign here, initial, etc. Walked off the lot with one key and no paperwork. After almost 2 weeks I called and they sent paperwork. He promised me my payments would be $300 month and my first payment wouldn’t be due till February 2017. On the paper its says my payment is due Jan 2017 and my payments are $645 month! I’m a single mom and can’t afford that. Is there anyway I can get out of this legally? Or what happens if I do let it go back without making the first payment on it?

    • John Watts says:


      In Alabama until you sign the papers, normally there is no deal. So if you are just seeing the paperwork now, and it doesn’t match what you were told, you may be able to not go through with the deal.

      Do you have the vehicle?

      Call us and we will either help you or get you to the right lawyer.

      John Watts

  3. MICHAEL says:

    Yes I got a car back in 2007….they repossessed it in 2007….sued me in 2012 I disputed the judgement…and they didn’t come after me again until last month of this year….I was wondering if I have a winning case..or if they have already gotten a judgement against me what can I do

    • John Watts says:

      Michael, if you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn. She can look up your case.

      If you have a judgment from 2012 it will be very hard to get rid of this unless we can show you were not served properly with the lawsuit.

      If you were not served, we can attack the judgment.

      If you were served, then you need to look at options to deal with the judgment — bankruptcy, lump sum settlement, monthly settlement, etc.

      Definitely need to chat with a lawyer in your state — if that’s Alabama we’ll be happy to help you.


      John Watts

  4. Melissa says:

    My Ex husband and I purchased a car in 2002, when we divorced in 2004 he kept the car and would not let me keep up the payments Im not sure how long he kept the car after that but sometime between 2002/2003 he let it go back. I have received 2 notices at my place of employment in the last 2 months of an attorneys office wanting to know if i am employed here, and i know it is because of that Repo. so many years ago.
    What are my options here can you please help?

    • John Watts says:


      If he let the car go back in 2002 or 2003, I’m a bit concerned about why they are contacting your employment UNLESS they have a judgment against you.

      Did you get sued on this a number of years ago?

      How long did your ex pay on this loan — i.e. did he pay after he let it go back? Did you?

      What does your credit report say — nothing should be on there about this unless you were sued and a judgment was entered against you.

      If you live in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be happy to look up the online court system to see if you were sued, look at the letters sent to your employer, etc.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  5. Nati says:

    I have not paid a vehicle for over 653 days, I live on an Indian reservation, two days ago repo came looking for car drove in my yard 2 feet from car but did not take it. Called Santander and they only gave me a settlement amount of $3238.00, to be paid in one week. I’ve received no certified letter or phone calls from them. Until now. Plus it is already on my credit report as charge off. I feel that its a double dipping, double negative. Burn me with my credit now want to repo car. What can I do now at this point.

    • John Watts says:


      Here is the typical way this works — hope this gives you a good starting point.

      1. An account gets charged off.

      2. It is still owed (if it was owed originally) — the charge off is an accounting technique — doesn’t change the legal status of whether we owe.

      3. Eventually company comes to repo car.

      4. They then sell it.

      5. If sold for more than owed (never happens!) you would get the overage.

      6. But if sold for less than owed (almost always happens), then they come after you for the “deficiency”. So if you owed $15,000 and it sells for $7,000, they will come after you for $8,000.

      7. Santander may do this on their own or get a debt buyer/debt collector such as Cascade Capital or Velocity Investments to come after you.

      So be prepared for all of this.

      If you can work it out, that’s great.

      I would chat with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to get a good feel for your options.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  6. Barbara Jones says:

    I have a reposssion on my credit report (defiencency less than 7k) I want to challenge credit bureaus with validation of amount because date and amounts are different per bureau BUT don’t know SOL. First date of delinquency 4/14, repo 6/14. Credit report also has date of last payment with original creditor 9/14. Charged off and sold to collection agency 12/23/15(each credit report has different dates. I recall last year finding my name on AL unclaimed money website-but think it was from collection company (trying to locate document, which I cashed. So would this blow my case with FCDA with validation to get it removed from credit reports and or put me in the line of fire to get sued? Every 6 months collection agency is putting hard inquiries on reports

    • John Watts says:


      Thank you for your comment.

      So we have several things going on here.

      First, if there is false credit reporting then you can challenge that through the credit reporting agencies. Who is reporting — is it the original creditor or is a debt collector? Some companies report and others who claim to buy old debts do not report. For example, when Santander claims to sell to Cascade, we normally do not see Cascade reporting but Santander will still report.

      Second, I’m not sure I understand about the unclaimed money.

      Third, it depends on who has the account as to the likelihood of you being sued in Alabama. For some folks, it is best to keep your head down if possible. But others you can be more aggressive.

      The bottom line is you can call our firm at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn. She’ll get your information and you can send us your credit reports so we can see what is going on. Once we know exactly what is happening, we can then give you specific advice.

      This is a relatively new account (repo of June 2014 with the sale of the vehicle in about Sept 2014) so you do have some danger but we can walk you through some options.

      Look forward to chatting with you.

      John Watts

  7. danielle sims says:

    As a result of extreme financial hardship, pymts towards local credit union ( lienholder of my 2004 4Runner ) fell dormant early in 2014. Vehicle runs & registration current. i have not been contacted by credit union regarding unpaid loan this entire time and my credit report shows no report from institution. I would like to put vehicle up for sale, as it isnt being driven. Given there has been no contact or cases filed against me/title, does SOL provide any assistance in clearing this debt? While i do consider myself very fortunate, i am inquiring as to what options are available given the credit union hasnt pursued this debt for almost 4 yrs.
    i cant voluntarily pay dent off at this time, but if/when i am able, can i be hit with late fees and interest? Any legal aspects that would benefit me should i try to negotiate a reduced repayment amount with credit union? Can the credit union, by law, charge me interest and late fees even though they have not billed/notified or made attempts to collect debt? while not morally the best option, is it in my best intrest financially to remain dormant on this situation forever more?

    • John Watts says:


      Thank you for your comment and questions. Sorry you are going through tough times right now — hope that changes quickly for you.

      Assuming you purchased the vehicle here and you still live in Alabama, then the statute of limitations is likely 4 years. (A few exceptions but for the vast majority it is 4 years).

      So if you stopped paying in 2014, there is still a ways to go. We also have to look at whether the entire debt has been “accelerated” or if you are still in the payment plan. Since you are not receiving statements or any contact, probably the debt has been accelerated but that is an issue to look at specifically with an attorney. The statute of limitations can get complicated when you are still within the normal payment plan time period (i.e. 48 months, 60 months, etc on a car loan).

      As far as interest and fees, generally you can still be hit with these. Certainly with fees — late fees, etc. And the interest you probably can. Again we need to know if the loan has been accelerated or not.

      Credit unions typically are difficult about reducing the amount owed — they normally insist on getting the vehicle back, selling it, and then going after you for the difference (the deficiency).

      As far as not taking any action against you, as long as the statute of limitations has not expired, they can do nothing and then sue you at the last minute.

      You’ll need to decide what the best action to take is — do you try and sell the vehicle to get money to pay off the credit union? Do you contact credit union to establish repayment plan? Lay low and see what they do?

      I can’t tell you which one to do as I don’t know all the details but if you live in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447. If outside of AL then get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to go over your options.

      Sorry you are dealing with tough times — you are smart to figure out your options so you can make the best decision possible.

      Best wishes with this decision!

      John Watts

  8. Juan Vasquez says:

    I have a 2014 camaro I took out for my brother he is unable to keep paying it 3 months have passed and no payment if I give the car back how long will they take to sue me because I’m sure the car is not going to cover what I owe

    • John Watts says:


      Sorry you are dealing with this.

      The time period depends on your state and what type of loan or contract you have.

      For example, if you bought the car and financed the car at the dealership then the period of time to sue in Alabama is normally 4 years. It can get a bit complicated on when the start date is — safest to assume it is when they repo or take back the car.

      Other states can be different.

      If you borrowed money from a bank or credit union and then took that financing into a dealership, that can be a different period of time to sue. In Alabama that will normally be 6 years.

      Bottom line is get with a lawyer in the state where you live to see what your options are.

      If you are in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447.

      Thanks for your comment and I wish you the best!

      John Watts

  9. […] If it’s been over 4 years since you last paid on the debt, then we have a great statute of limitations defense. […]

  10. christy says:

    if a vehicle was repossessed and sold in June 2014, what is the statue of limitations for them to file suit against my mom? it was actually my brothers car, she was the co-signer..the company filed a judgement against her in sept. 2017. can they do this?

    • John Watts says:


      If the statute of limitations is 4 years in this situation then they may have filed it in time.

      June 2014 is date of repo and they filed suit in Sept 2017.

      Now, we would want to look and see the date of the last payment. Look at the letters from the car company and see when they said the loan was in default.

      Normally, the repo and the sale occur quite some time apart.

      I would check credit reports to see what is being said about the date of the payments.

      So there is info to look at to see if the statute of limitations has expired or not.

      The safest thing to do is to get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to go over the details.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  11. Sherry says:

    I did not pay on my title loan its been over a year and no contact with them. They came yesterday to get the car. I have it parked at my mom’s I called her and she said it wasn’t there. Will I be arrested??

    • John Watts says:


      A title loan is much different than what this article is about but let me give you some thoughts.

      Did they get the car at your mom’s house or did someone else take it? I’m a bit confused on that.

      As far as being arrested — at least in Alabama, you should not be arrested for failing to pay a title loan. They have the right to sue you for money damages and also to pick up the car. But unless something unusual, I have never heard of anyone being arrested on a title loan.

      If you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we can help you think through your options — if you are outside of Alabama get with a great consumer protection lawyer in your state to help answer your questions.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  12. Patrick says:

    I recently a letter of garnishment from Union State Bank from a loan in 1998. The bank repossessed the vehicle and now they are coming after me $4896.64. After reading the paperwork it says the judgment date is 05-01-2002. Do I have any recourse in the matter? How can I fight this judgment?

    • John Watts says:


      If there is a judgment date of 5-1-2002 then that would mean you were sued, served, and then lost the case 15 years ago.

      Assuming I’m correct in this, then the time to argue about the statue of limitation would have been before the judgment date.

      Now, if they have the judgment, they can collect.

      In Alabama a judgment is good for 10 years and then it can normally be renewed for another 10 years.

      Other states have their own rules.

      So the starting point is to call a consumer protection lawyer in your state to get advice about your particular situation.

      If you are in Alabama, call us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn.


      John Watts

  13. Mechelle says:

    My husband and I bought a car in 2011. It was repossessed along with a van I used as collateral in 2013. Today I received a phone call from the creditors asking for an address so I can be served. They say the amount owed is over 11000 but I was under this amount when it was repossessed and they sold the car and my van. Is there anything I can do about this?

    • John Watts says:


      I’m assuming you are in Alabama — if not then ignore what I’m about to say.

      The question will be when in 2013 did the repossession happen?

      Then, when were you sued? Was it more than 4 years from the date of the repo or less than 4 years?

      If you call us at 205-879-2447, ask for Carolyn and she can look up to see when the case was filed against you. We’ll need your address and the name that you used for this debt. Also we’ll need to know who is suing you.

      Once we know what is happening, then we can advise you on your options.

      Look forward to speaking with you soon.


      Best wishes!

      John Watts

      PS — remember if you don’t live in Alabama, don’t call us as we can’t advise you. Instead get with a great consumer protection lawyer in your state to give you your options and help you plan a strategy to deal with this.

  14. Veronica says:

    I live in Al. I had a r car repoed in 2015 by Credit Acceptance. They sd they’ve “assigned” the debt to a law firm in Montgomery whose started to garnish my paycheck. I have questions:

    1. I live and work at the same place an apt. community (which is private property)(CAN THEY DO THAT?)

    2 Before it was repoed I had it on recurring payments (eventhough I was behind) and the rep at Credit Accept suggested I take it off recurring payments based on what he told me I agreed and he took it off. Same month they were repoing the car. (CAN THEY DO THAT?)

    3. Once car was repoed it was taken 2hrs away to be stored, but brought back less than 30mins away to be auctioned. (IS THERE A LIMIT ON HOW FAR THEY CAN TOW?)

    4. Can credit report show diff amount than what they are suing for? Credit Accept showing on credit report not who is suing me. (CAN I DISPUTE?)

    5. I was told by firm that is suing there was paperwork I needed to sign but I never received anything from them (IS THAT A LOOPHOLE I CAN USE?)

    (in beginning I did make a couple of payments before I got another car so couldn’t pay both)

    • John Watts says:


      Contact us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn so she can look up the lawsuit for you. We’ll be glad to help you any way we can.

      I’ll be glad to answer your questions privately — some of these I don’t want in a public setting.

      Here are some thoughts/questions for you — let’s discuss these by phone — no need to answer them here.

      1. Has someone just sued you or they have sued you and obtained a judgment? Garnishment only happens AFTER a judgment.

      2. What is the case number?

      3. Who has sued you — the name of the company suing you — sounds like different than Credit Acceptance.

      4. Which lawfirm is suing you — I assume Parnell & Parnell or Moxley & Associates?

      5. Pulling your credit reports is very smart — make sure you save those. Credit reports can really help in these cases as we find contradictory information.

      6. On the repossession, did you receive a letter AFTER the repossession but before the actual repossession? This will tell you the date of the auction and how to get your car back.

      7. Did you receive a letter AFTER the repossession telling you the math — how much it was sold for, whether you still owe money, etc?

      Call us ASAP at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn or email me at John [at] WattsHerring.com


      John Watts

  15. Mike says:

    My vehicle loan was taken out in 2011. It was repossessed in 2015. Charge off. A week ago they reported the account as opened. Saying I owe 3000$. I understand how it works. They sold the truck and still owe 3k. My question is. Does that open account start from now and lasting 7 years?

    • John Watts says:


      Typically credit reporting lasts about 7 years from the date of the first major delinquency. That will normally be the time of the repo or before it.

      So let’s say it is in 2015. Then I would expect it to stay on till about 2022. Not 7 years from today (2025) but 7 years from 2015.

      Hope that makes sense.

      John Watts

      PS — I know you know this — get with a lawyer in your state to get the final word on this but hopefully until then, the above general info will help you. Best wishes! John

  16. Trent Akles says:

    Is it illegal for a repossession guy to say its illegal for a third party to have a car in the state of Georgia and Alabama. My next question is if they don’t show any iD what rights do a person have

    • John Watts says:


      I’m not sure I follow the first question — the repo guy is saying someone other than the owner cannot have the car in Alabama? That sounds wrong to me. Not really illegal for the repo guy to say something not true in most circumstances.

      On your second question, I assume you mean the repo guy comes to take the car and refuses to show any ID? If that happened to me I would not voluntarily surrender the car — you have no idea if you are giving it to a thief. The legit repo guys I know of are very quick to tell you who they are, why they are there to get the car, etc.

      Hope that helps — if you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we can answer your specific questions.


      John Watts

  17. Jess Harris says:

    My ex and I took out an auto loan. I had a repossession back in 2016. I have not received any notices or heard anything from them since. Now….2 yrs later they have put a collections account on my credit report. Can they do that?

    • John Watts says:


      Is it the original finance company or a debt collector that is putting this on your report?

      That’s the starting point — figure out who is on there.

      If original creditor — they can list the missed payments and the repo and any balance that is still owed.

      But if a collector, then they should only list what has happened since they got the account.

      Do be aware a lot of collectors (debt buyers) will sue over this recent of a car repossession.

      So get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to figure out your options asap.

      Best wishes

      John Watts
      Alabama — 205-879-2447

  18. Barbara says:

    I live in Alabama and purchased a vehicle in July 2012 which was financed through Santander. I lost my job and could no longer afford the payments (last payment was April 2013) and the vehicle was repossessed in June 2013. I recently noticed that I have a collection account on my credit report in the amount of 10,000 from NCB management. I have never received anything in the mail from any collection company. Do I need to try to get ahead of this situation before they try to sue me, or do I just wait to see what they will do? Considering I haven’t received any correspondence from them I’m terrified they could sue me and I’d never know until it turned into a judgement.

    • John Watts says:


      Give my office a call at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn. She’ll look up in the court and see if any lawsuits or judgments.

      Then she can set us up a call and I’ll be happy to walk you through your options.

      I think you’ll be fine in this but we do need to check out a couple of things.


      John Watts
      205-879-2447 — ask for Carolyn

  19. Carol. Orellanes says:

    My husband and I took out a title loan on our truck. We’ve beening paying on the loan for over 3yrs. How long can a title loan company keep making us on the loan. We’ve paid more for the loan three times ove. Is there any time limit on a title loan

    • John Watts says:


      You really have to look at your contract to see. What you have been paying — how much is interest and how much is going towards paying the loan off?

      You also should be able to ask the title loan people to give you a breakdown of the payments and how much is owed.

      Might be that you just need to add a bit to your payments and you’ll make good progress. Problem with title loans is they are set up to make it so you never really can get out from under them. Even credit cards — if you pay the minimum payment — take many years to pay off.

      Hope that helps — if you are in Alabama feel free to give us a call after you get some info about the current status of your loan and when it will be paid off. 205-879-2447. Be glad to help you think through options.


      John Watts

  20. Fred Carey says:

    I bought a car at oucton the DMV had me pay for repo and other fees they said no pay no tags so lpayed is this legal

    • John Watts says:


      I’m not sure about this — I just don’t know anything about buying cars at auctions.

      You are saying you bought the car for a certain amount and now the DMV is telling you that you have to pay more money if you want to actually get your tag?

      That sounds very strange to me.

      I would do a couple of things — ask the DMV to show you where this is the law and ask to speak to a supervisor. You can also call the auction place as they should know whether this is common or not.

      Sorry I can’t help you — I would like to know what you find out as what you learn can help others.


      John Watts

  21. Terry says:

    My ex-husband and I purchased a vehicle together in 2001. Our divorce was final in 2005 and he kept the vehicle and was supposed to make payments. He hasn’t been clear on what actually happened to the vehicle, but he no longer had it in 2007, I believe. Now Radius Global Solutions LLC is contacting me and telling me I owe them $4,774.52. This is well past the statue of limitations for Alabama, so do I have to pay the collections agency?

  22. Mrs. Davis says:

    Goodafternoon, I purchased a vehicle back in 2004 I had to stop paying on the vehicle back in 2006 I lost my job, My married I was In a Terrible place at that point in time with finances and I thank god everyday I never turned to drugs or alcohol but I never paid the balance off on the vehicle and now the balance is off my credit as of 2017 but I still have the vehicle they never would repossess it. I would like to see what my options are on getting it out of my yard. The car no longer runs, I live in Alabama. Thank you very much for your help.

  23. Shane Stinson says:

    I got a call from a debt collector about a vehicle that was repossessed 14 years ago saying I was gonna have my wages garnished if I didn’t pay them that day they called, can they do that? Plus the address they gave me for thier business isn’t to an actual debt collector,the address was to a UPS store… Could that mean it’s a scam?

  24. Kennesha McAlmon says:

    Recently purchased a new vehicle I’ve had it for almost a month signed all the paperwork and they gave me a piece of paper saying I owe nothing in terms of a down payment. I received a call last week saying I needed to put $1,000 down. I thought my deal was solid but now the bank is requesting $1,000. I haven’t made my first payment I s there any way I can return the vehicle without it affecting my credit score?

  25. Chris W says:

    Opened auto loan in December 2011 and was repossessed in 2013. Credit report shows last payment being in May 2013. I am just now being sued for this with a court date in June 2019. From what I’ve read on this page I should be in the clear. Im in Alabama.

  26. Lisa Jamison says:

    I have title loan I paid most of back it been 7yr now they never want car back told come get it now 7 yr later can I get them release title I don’t have copy of loan I have not called yet to settle it just want to know my options

  27. Kerry Brown says:

    My mom got a loan back in 2011 and put my dad truck up for collateral. Sadly my dad passed away so she couldn’t pay the loan. It’s been a REALLY long time and we’re trying to see about selling the truck. The lien is still on the title. Is there anyway we can get it off? Is there a statue of limitations on them coming to get the vehicle?

  28. Deana west says:

    I have a default title loan and has been for little over three years now. I have heard from no one and the car still sitting in my yard. Can I do something with the car?

  29. Trisha says:

    We bought a car in feb of 2014 voluntarily surrendered it about a year later in 2015. Now we get a letter being sued for 7500 the car was financed through mac credit union and the amount financed was about 12000. It will be 2020 when we goto court does statue of limitations apply to this case? When car was given and they Supposedly sold it they would not tell us what they sold it for shouldnt we have the right to know?

  30. Keith says:

    They repossessed the vehicle in 2012. I received a call today 2021 saying I’m being served and they are filling a suit against me for that vehicle. What do I need to do?

    • John Watts says:

      Keith, do you live in Alabama? If so, fill out our contact form at https://alabamaconsumer.com/contact-us/
      and we’ll get with you. If you are in another state, you’ll need to get with a lawyer there to help you as each state can be different. I think this is going to be too long for most any state but I only know about Alabama for sure.


      John Watts

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