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How Long Do Car Loans Stay On a Credit Report

How Long Do Car Loans Stay On a Credit Report

Your credit report plays a crucial role in your financial life. Lenders use the information in your credit report to evaluate your credit risk and determine whether to approve you for loans and credit cards. A strong credit score can mean better interest rates and more money saved.

An important question many Canadians have is: how long do auto loans stay on your credit report after you pay them off or they are closed? Auto loans are one of the most common types of installment loans that appear on credit reports.

Understanding how long they impact your report is key to monitoring your credit standing over time. This guide will explain everything you need to know about how auto loans are reported and when they will disappear from your credit history.

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What is an Auto Loan?

An auto loan is a type of installment loan used to finance the purchase of a car. With an auto loan, you borrow a set amount of money from a lender and agree to repay it over a set period of time, usually between 24 and 84 months.

An auto loan allows you to pay for a new or used vehicle over several years through fixed monthly payments rather than paying the full purchase price upfront. Auto loans are a form of secured debt. This means the vehicle itself serves as collateral for the loan. If you stop making payments, the lender can repossess the car.

When you purchase a vehicle with an auto loan, the lender retains the title or “pink slip” until you have fully repaid the loan as agreed. Only then do you gain the legal title and outright ownership of the vehicle.


How Long Do Auto Loans Stay on Credit Reports in Canada?

One of the most common questions Canadians have about auto loans is how long they remain on your credit report after being paid off or closed. In Canada, both open and closed accounts stay on your credit report for 6 years from the date of last activity. This includes auto loans.

So if you pay off your auto loan and close the account, it will still show up on your credit report for 6 years after the closing date. The 6-year reporting period is standard across the major credit bureaus in Canada including Equifax and TransUnion.

For auto loans that go into default, they may stay on your credit report slightly longer, for up to 7 years from the date of first delinquency that led to the default or repossession. But in general, 6 years after closure or last payment is the standard reporting length for auto loans in particular.

The bottom line is auto loans, whether open or closed, remain on your Canadian credit report for 6 years from the date of last activity before automatically dropping off.


Why Closed Accounts Stay on Credit Reports

Here’s why closed auto loan accounts remain on your credit report for so long:


– It demonstrates you managed an installment loan responsibly over a long period. This has a positive impact on your credit profile.

– Potential lenders want to see your overall borrowing history, not just current accounts. Keeping paid loans on your report gives them a fuller picture.

– Even closed positive accounts help build your credit score by lengthening your credit history. The older your credit history, the better.


Will My Credit Score Drop Once an Auto Loan Closes?

Your credit score may drop a few points right after you pay off an auto loan since you have less overall available credit. However, your score will quickly rebound. Plus, lenders may view you more favorably since you have less debt.

As long as you made consistent on-time payments, keeping the paid auto loan on your credit report demonstrates responsible borrowing behavior and will contribute to your credit score over time.

Having less open installment loan debt actually helps your approval odds for future loans and credit. Lenders want to see you aren’t overextended. So even though your score may temporarily dip when an auto loan closes, this quickly improves as your lower debt-to-credit ratio boosts your credit utilization.


How to Remove an Auto Loan Early

The only way to remove an auto loan before 6 years is to prove it was reported in error or it does not belong to you. You must file disputes with the credit bureau(s) reporting the account and provide evidence it is incorrect or fraudulent.

To dispute an auto loan on your credit report:


  1. Obtain copies of your credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion and review the auto loan account details.
  2. Highlight any information that is inaccurate, such as the loan balance, payment history, or account status.
  3. Write dispute letters to each credit bureau that is reporting incorrect information. Include your full name, address, date of birth, a statement that you are disputing the information, and copies of any evidence that supports your claim.
  4. Send the dispute letters to the credit bureaus via certified mail and request a return receipt as proof of delivery.
  5. The credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate your dispute. If they cannot verify the accuracy of the information, they must remove the disputed item.
  6. You may need to repeat this process with the lender as well if the credit bureaus do not resolve the dispute.


If verified as your legitimate account, it cannot be manually deleted until the reporting period expires after 6 years from closure. There is no way to remove positive or negative accurate information early from your credit file.


What is a Charge-Off?

A charge-off occurs when a lender decides a delinquent debt is unlikely to be paid. After several months of missed payments, the lender writes the account balance off as a loss, charging it off their books as a bad debt.

This has major consequences for your credit standing. A charge-off is one of the most damaging items that can appear on a credit report.

When an auto loan is charged off, the account will be closed and the entire outstanding balance will immediately become due. The charge-off status will be reported to the credit bureaus, sinking your credit score.

A charge-off stays on your credit report for 6 years from the date of first delinquency. Since you technically still owe the debt, the creditor or a collection agency can pursue payment even after it is charged off.

The best option is to try to avoid charge-offs by staying current on your auto loan. If your vehicle is charged off, you may be able to negotiate a payoff for less than the full balance, but you will still take a credit hit.


Special Cases – Repossessions

Repossessions are a special case when it comes to credit reporting timelines. If your auto lender repossesses your vehicle due to non-payment or default, this can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years in Canada.

The countdown begins from the date of the first delinquency that led to the repossession, not the date the repossession occurred. For example, if you missed your first payment that later resulted in the repossession in March 2021, the delinquency and repossession could stay on your report until as late as March 2028.

A repossession is a serious derogatory mark that can significantly hurt your credit score. It demonstrates failure to uphold a major financial obligation. If you have an auto repossession on your credit file, it’s important to rebuild your credit through on-time payments and limiting new credit applications.

While 7 years may seem like a long time, try to take comfort that the repossession’s impact will steadily decrease as time passes. And it will eventually fall off your report altogether after those 7 years.


Maintaining Good Credit Habits

Even after your auto loan closes, it’s important to continue practicing good credit habits. This will help ensure any lasting impact from the auto loan on your credit report remains positive. Here are some tips:


Pay All Loans On Time

Make payments for all your credit accounts by the due date. Payment history is the biggest factor in your credit scores. Stay diligent about on-time payments for credit cards, mortgages, student loans, or any other debt. Setting up automatic payments can help avoid missed payments.


Monitor Your Credit Report

Keep an eye on your credit report regularly for any errors or fraudulent activity. You can obtain free copies of your credit report annually from each of the major credit bureaus. Monitoring your report helps you stay aware of any issues that may require disputes.


Dispute Errors Swiftly

If you spot any mistakes on your credit report, such as accounts that don’t belong to you or incorrect loan details, dispute the errors with the credit bureau right away. Submit copies of any evidence that can validate your claim. This can improve your credit score by removing inaccuracies.


Shopping for a New Auto Loan

When you’re in the market for a new vehicle, it’s important to shop around for the best auto loan rates and terms. Many people are hesitant to apply with multiple lenders for fear it will hurt their credit score. However, the impact is generally minimal, especially if the rate shopping is contained within a focused time period.

The credit scoring models understand you are likely searching for your best deal, not applying for numerous loans. As a result, multiple inquiries from auto lenders that occur within a 14-45 day period are generally counted as a single inquiry. This prevents your score from taking an unnecessary hit.

While a small drop of a few points may occur, the long-term interest savings of finding the best rate on your auto loan far outweigh the temporary credit impact. As long as you are comparing similar loan products, lenders will understand the shopping behaviour and it won’t be viewed negatively.

The key is to complete your rate shopping within a month or two. Drawing out inquiries over many months can result in each separate application counting individually and dragging down your score. Work efficiently to find your best offer.

As you compare options, you should also minimize unnecessary “hard inquiries” by starting with soft credit checks whenever possible. This allows a basic review of your creditworthiness without an official inquiry on your report. You can pre-qualify and evaluate potential loan terms through soft checks.

Once you’ve identified your top contenders, you can proceed to complete full applications and hard inquiries only with those select few lenders. This focused approach will help minimize excessive inquiries during your shopping process.


Alternatives to Traditional Auto Loans

If you have bad credit or limited credit history, you may have trouble qualifying for a traditional auto loan from a bank or credit union. However, there are some alternatives to explore:


Buy Here Pay Here Dealerships

Buy here pay here (BHPH) dealerships specialize in financing auto loans for borrowers with poor credit. They offer in-house financing and tend to be more flexible on credit requirements. However, interest rates are often much higher. Do your research to find reputable BHPH dealers in your area.


Cosigner Loans

Asking a friend or family member with good credit to cosign on an auto loan can help you qualify and secure better terms. The cosigner becomes equally responsible for repaying the debt, so make sure you can uphold your end of the agreement.


Secured Auto Loans

With a secured auto loan, the vehicle itself serves as collateral for the loan. This reduces the lender’s risk, making approval easier even with bad credit. However, if you default, the lender can repossess the vehicle. Be sure you can manage the payments.

Explore all options to find the most affordable financing terms for your situation. Maintaining on-time payments can help rebuild your credit over time.


Improving Your Credit After Auto Loan Troubles

If you’ve experienced issues with past auto loans like late payments, defaults or repossessions, it can negatively impact your credit standing. However, there are steps you can take to rebuild and improve your credit over time.

One of the most important things is to make timely payments on all your current credit accounts. Set up automatic payments or payment reminders if needed. Pay at least the minimum by the due date every month. After an auto loan default, lenders want to see you can manage payments responsibly again.

In addition to on-time payments, focus on actively managing and reducing your overall debt load. Try to pay down balances on credit cards and other loans. Keep credit utilization low on revolving accounts. You may need to temporarily limit new credit applications as well until your score rebounds.

If you have outstanding collections from the auto lender, negotiate directly with them to see if you can settle for less than the full amount. Getting collections accounts deleted or marked as paid can help improve your credit reports. Just be sure to get any settlement offers in writing first before paying.

Finally, check your credit reports regularly for any errors. If you find mistakes relating to your auto loan, file disputes immediately to correct the information. Accurate reporting is essential for restoring your credit standing over time.


Auto Loan Lengths in Canada

When financing a vehicle purchase in Canada, most lenders offer terms ranging from 24 to 84 months. The length of your auto loan can have advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Shorter auto loans of 2-3 years have higher monthly payments but allow you to pay off the debt faster. You’ll pay less interest overall compared to longer loans. However, the higher payments may strain your monthly budget. Short loans also limit how expensive a vehicle you can afford.

Longer auto loans of 6-7 years have lower monthly payments, freeing up cash flow. This allows you to purchase a more expensive vehicle. However, you’ll pay significantly more interest costs over the full loan term. There’s also a higher risk of being underwater on the loan if the car depreciates faster than you are paying down the principal.

4-5 year loans are a compromise – moderate monthly payments while keeping interest costs contained. This is the most popular auto loan length in Canada. Carefully consider your budget and the total interest cost when choosing your ideal loan term.



In summary, auto loans can stay on your credit report for 6-7 years after being closed or written off. This allows future lenders to see your full credit history, including past responsible use of installment loans. While your credit score may drop slightly when an auto loan is paid off, the entire payment history remains to demonstrate you managed the debt properly over an extended time.

The takeaway is that auto loans, when managed diligently, can build your credit profile and score over time. But if you miss payments or face repossession, they can also damage your credit for many years into the future. Maintaining sound borrowing habits like making all car payments on time is crucial. An auto loan itself is neither inherently good nor bad for your credit – it’s all about how you handle the obligation.

Understanding exactly how long auto loans impact your credit report empowers you to make wise borrowing choices. This knowledge can help you leverage auto financing to improve your credit health over the long-term.


Key Takeaways

Here are the key takeaways from this guide on how long auto loans stay on your credit report in Canada:


  • Auto loans remain on your credit report for 6 years after being closed or paid off.
  • For repossessions, they may stay on your report for up to 7 years from first delinquency.
  • Having a paid auto loan on your report helps build your credit history and score.
  • Your credit score may drop slightly when an auto loan closes but will quickly rebound.
  • You cannot remove an auto loan early unless you prove it’s fraudulent or inaccurate.
  • Make all your auto loan payments on time to maximize the positive credit impact.
  • Shop for your next auto loan over a short period to minimize credit inquiries.
  • Consider alternatives like buying used cars in cash or using secured credit cards to build

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Questions About Car Loans On Credit Reports

A car loan will stay on your credit report in Canada for 6 years from the date of the last payment. This applies to both fully paid car loans as well as car loans that went into collections or default. Even if you pay off your car loan early, it will remain on your credit report for the full 6 years from the last payment date.

Paying off a car loan early can help improve your credit score in Canada. When you pay off a loan early, your credit report will show that you managed credit responsibly by paying off your debts ahead of schedule. This demonstrates positive behavior to future lenders. However, the car loan itself will still remain on your credit report for 6 years from the date of the last payment.


If your car is repossessed in Canada, it will remain on your credit report for 6 years from the date of the first missed payment that led to the repossession. Even after you pay the loan in collections due to the repossession, it will still show for the full 6 years from the first missed payment.

Yes, you can get approved for a car loan in Canada even with bad credit. Many lenders specialize in bad credit auto loans. However, expect to pay a higher interest rate and potentially have a down payment requirement. Make sure you compare options from multiple bad credit lenders before accepting a loan offer.

Rate shopping and getting pre-approved by multiple lenders for a car loan will not hurt your credit score in Canada. As long as all rate inquiries are made within a 14 day period, the credit bureaus will count them as a single search rather than multiple hard inquiries. This allows you to shop rates freely.

Hard credit inquiries stay on your credit report in Canada for 2 years. After 2 years, they automatically drop off your report and will no longer impact your credit score. Too many hard inquiries in a short period of time can negatively impact your credit, so avoid unnecessary applications whenever possible.

Whether to pay off your car loan early or invest extra payments depends on the interest rate on the loan compared to expected investment returns. As a general rule in Canada, if your auto loan interest rate is over 5-6%, you should consider paying off the loan first before investing since average market returns may not exceed loan interest costs.

You have 30 days to dispute errors on your credit report with Equifax and TransUnion in Canada. If new errors appear later, you have another 30 days from the date you discovered them to file another dispute. It is important to periodically check your credit reports for inaccuracies and file disputes promptly.

It is usually not possible for a cosigner to remove themselves from a car loan in Canada unless the primary borrower refinances or pays off the loan. Even after refinancing, the cosigner may still show some ongoing liability for legal reasons for a certain period of time, often around 6 months.

To rebuild credit after a repossession in Canada, get a secured credit card and make all payments on time, keep credit utilization low on cards, dispute any errors on your report, become an authorized user on someone else’s card, and sign up for credit monitoring. It takes time, but showing responsible use of credit products again is key.

The average interest rate on a used car loan currently ranges between 6% and 9% in Canada for buyers with good credit scores above 680. Applicants with lower credit scores can expect rates between 9% and 15% or potentially higher for riskier borrowers. Rates vary based on individual factors.

It is generally not recommended to take out a significantly longer car loan term just to get lower monthly payments in Canada. While a longer term lowers payments, it increases the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Most experts recommend a term of 5 years or less for car loans in Canada.

The best way to get pre-approved for a car loan in Canada is to first check your credit reports, maximize your credit score, research current auto finance rates, and prepare documents like proof of income. Then complete online applications with multiple lenders like banks, dealerships and third party companies for rate comparisons.

Unless your car loan interest rate exceeds 15-20%, most financial experts in Canada recommend putting any extra funds towards long-term retirement investments over paying down low-rate auto debt faster. Retirement often provides better tax incentives and investment returns over the long run.

If you file bankruptcy in Canada, you have three options for your car loan: 1) surrender the car and be released from the loan obligation; 2) sign a reaffirmation agreement to continue paying the loan despite the bankruptcy; or 3) if current on payments, keep making them and retain possession of the vehicle.

Getting a cosigner for a car loan in Canada generally does not directly impact your credit score or report since you remain the primary borrower. However, if your cosigner needs to start making payments on your behalf later on, then your credit would be impacted by any reporting of late or missed payments.


When applying for a car loan in Canada, you’ll need documents to verify your identity, income, employment, down payment funds, and insurance coverage. This typically includes your driver’s license, recent pay stubs, bank statements, proof of auto insurance, references and contact information. Lenders may have additional requirements.

Your credit score will generally not improve right away when a car loan is paid off in Canada. This is because the auto loan will remain on your credit reports positively for a full 6 years after the last payment. Over this time, the mix of open and paid accounts builds your score. Just focus on keeping all payments on time.

Yes, paying your car loan on time consistently every month will cause your credit score to gradually increase over time in Canada. On-time payments show lenders you are reliable at managing debts, which has a positive impact. Just one late payment could undo several months of score improvements.

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