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New York Statute of Limitations & Vehicle Repossession

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedMay 14, 2024
Key Takeaways:
  • The statute of limitations for many debts in New York is 6 years.
  • The New York statute of limitations for a judgment is 20 years.
  • The expiration of a statute of limitations is a defense that must be raised.

What is the New York statute of limitations for a vehicle repossession?

Please tell me the years under the statute of limitations for New York state regarding a vehicle repossession.

A statute of limitations (SOL) is the time period during which a creditor can take legal action (i.e., sue the debtor) to enforce a debt. Each state has defined its own statutes of limitations, and they vary significantly.

For example, in your state, New York, creditors have six years to sue a debtor to enforce a debt, while in Rhode Island creditors have 10 years. To learn more about statutes of limitations for the collection of debts, see the resources How to Tell Which Statute of Limitations Applies to Your Situation and Statute of Limitations Laws by State to learn basic information about consumer rights in each state. Debtors should consult with an attorney in their state who has experience in debt law to determine if the statute of limitation for the creditor to sue has expired.

If a state’s statute of limitation for the collection of debts has expired, the likelihood of the creditor attempting to sue the debtor to enforce the debt is much less. While the passing of the statute of limitation does not mean that a creditor cannot file a lawsuit, if one is filed the debtor has a defense against the lawsuit.

In most states, the statute of limitation begins running from the date of last payment on the account. This means that if the debtor paid just a few dollars to a collector a couple of years ago, the running statute of limitation for that debt could have been reset. Also, keep in mind that the passage of the statute of limitation does not forbid a creditor from calling to collect on the debt — it simply provides an absolute defense in court if the creditor files suit and the debtor/defendant raises the defense in a timely manner.

New York Statute of Limitations

According to the Laws of New York CVP Article 2 § 213, a plaintiff has six years to take action on a contractual obligation or liability.

Here, it is unclear from the facts provided how the statute of limitations applies to your question. If, to add hypothetical facts to your question, the creditor is asking for additional payments on a vehicle that was paid for completely seven years ago, then the statute of limitations bars the creditor from using the court to collect the alleged remaining payments. (Assuming the debtor raises the statute of limitations defense in a timely manner.)

Or, let us say for the sake of argument that payments for the vehicle stopped and the vehicle was repossessed. The creditor has six years under New York law to file a lawsuit to obtain the deficiency balance.

Or, let us say for the sake of argument payments halted, the creditor sued for breach of contract and obtained a judgment. Under New York law, the statute of limitations to collect a judgment is 20 years.

More Information

See the resource Collection Laws to learn about collection laws in other states.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.



Struggling with debt?

Mortgages, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, and auto loans are common types of debts. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Q4 2023 was $17.503 trillion. Housing debt totaled $12.612 trillion and non-housing debt was $4.891 trillion.

According to data gathered by from a sample of credit reports, about 26% of people in the US have some kind of debt in collections. The median debt in collections is $1,739. Student loans and auto loans are common types of debt. Of people holding student debt, approximately 8% had student loans in collections. The national Auto/Retail debt delinquency rate was 4%.

The amount of debt and debt in collections vary by state. For example, in Alaska, 17% have any kind of debt in collections and the median debt in collections is $1868. Medical debt is common and 4% have that in collections. The median medical debt in collections is $456.

To maintain an excellent credit score it is vital to make timely payments. However, there are many circumstances that lead to late payments or debt in collections. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to deal with debt including debt consolidation and debt relief solutions.



EEza, Aug, 2020

My parents had a car loan with Wells Fargo Dealer services signed in 2010. My father passed in 2011 and my Mom passed in 2014. Last payment was made June 2014. The didn't know where the car was. I want to contact them to see what I should do. They more than likely charged it off. But, is there a statue of limitations on it to repo after that amount of time? I want to get the car in my name and pay for it.

DDaniel Cohen, Sep, 2020

Eza, I am not a lawyer, so the information I share is not to be taken as legal advice.

Did you or the executor of their estate let the lender know that your mom died? Did her estate go through probate?  It feels like something is missing in what should have been done.

The statute of limitations may not apply, if the creditor was not informed. I don't know if "tolling" took place, but there are acts that can stop the SOL from running. If I were in your position, I would ask this question of a lawyer, to make sure that not informing the lender or any other issue did not bite you in the backside. Even if the SOL applies, they hold title to the vehicle and can choose not to transfer it to you. A fair offer on what is owed may sway them, as it is better than the nothing they have, but, again, if information was withheld from them that they legally should have received, they may have a strong claim to make.

If you speak with a lawyer, please report back on what you find out.

jjoyce, Apr, 2020

I had a car loan back in 2012 and car was repoed and I'm just now getting calls about them telling me they have a lawsuit and is scheduled for court in 30 days, their is a statue of limitations in New York of 6 years, this isn't even on my credit report, is this even possible that they say they are taking me to court unless I pay the 4,000 to them?

DDaniel Cohen, Apr, 2020

Joyce, I am not a lawyer. I wlll share some information with you, but please do not take anything I share as legal advice.

If you defaulted on the loan more than six years ago, then you can use the statute of limitations on debt as an affirmative defense, if you are sued. Statute of limitations questions can be tricky. There are actions a debtor can take that stop the clock running on the SOL, such as filing for bankruptcy or moving abroad.

There are also actions that can restart the clock on the SOL, such as making a payment on the debt. If you pay this debt collector $1 that would give them a new six year period to come after you. 

If you did not stop the clock from running or restart it, then be careful what you say to them If I were in your shoes, I would not speak with them, aside from making it clear they have your current address. If they contact you via mail, validate the debt. If they sue you be sure to go to court and assert the SOL. They could be trying to trick you into restarting the clock or paying them when you would be able to avoid doing so.

RRodney, Mar, 2020

Who can file the judgement, the original creditor or a collection company that has the debt?

DDaniel Cohen, Mar, 2020

Either the creditor or the collection can, whichever is legally in possession of the debt.

mmkiaaina, Dec, 2010
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TTrudy, Dec, 2010
thank you for this information. It is very helpful