How Long Can A Mechanic Legally Keep Your Car To Fix

If you have owned or been around cars for long, chances are, you have taken a peak share of cars acting funny at some point. We have all been there. As you already know, this can be frustrating. But what’s more frustrating is the mechanic keeping your car longer than he should.

Whether you are dealing with a minor or major repair, the mechanic can give you headaches by keeping the car longer than expected. You will have more headaches if the mechanic is not communicating with you on his progress. This might trigger you to ask, how long can a mechanic legally keep your car to fix?

Take it or leave it; there are legal regulations that will prompt your mechanic to fix your car in an efficient time.

how long can a mechanic legally keep your car to fix after

How long can a mechanic legally keep your car to fix

There’s no specific time at how long a mechanic can keep your car to fix because answers may vary from location to location and the repair shop doing the repair.

If the repair shop fixing the car is owned by a dealership, and the shop is physically situated inside the dealership office, they are legally allowed to keep your car fixed for only 30 days. However, this rule applies only when your car is still under warranty.

While 30 days is the limit by regulations, some repairs may prompt them to take longer, even though they should not. Hence, it is important to contact your dealership to know any cause of delay when repairing your car.

How long can a mechanic keep your car to fix after paying for the estimates at local shops?

For local repair shops, there’s no defined time to how long a mechanic can keep your car for repairs. However, the mechanic is expected to fix the specific repair as soon as possible and must seek your permission before doing additional repairs.

While there is no specific timeframe, local repair shops are required to follow four guidelines.

  • Local repair shops should communicate with their customer at every new phase of the repair process.
  • Local repair shops should communicate with their customer before doing any extra repairs. Customers can dispute unauthorized repairs.
  • The repair shop should keep written records of every repair done.
  • The repair shop should provide estimated costs and a final repair invoice.

While there is no defined time for how long a mechanic can hold your car to fix at a local repair shop, they must abide by the four guidelines above. However, the information you get from your mechanic lets you know if your repair shop is taking longer than expected or if you have a lemon vehicle.

How long can a mechanic legally keep your car to fix? A Lemon perspective

A car is considered a lemon vehicle when it has enough damage or manufacturing defects to cause the repair to take an unreasonable timeframe. However, if you have a car considered a lemon vehicle, there are legal actions you can pursue. Can I sue a mechanic for taking too long?

Suppose your dealership has taken over 30 days to fix your car and has taken several repair approaches to fix a specific problem. In that case, it indicates you might have a lemon vehicle, and driving it can be dangerous. If your vehicle satisfies the following requirements before covering 18,000 miles or within 18 months of purchase, it is considered a lemon vehicle.

  • The dealership has tried twice or more to fix a routine problem that may have caused severe injury or death.
  • The dealership has tried a remedy up to four times during the warranty time.
  • The car stayed in the shop for up to 30 days while they were repairing it.

If you have met any of these issues, you can file a lawsuit or get an attorney who specializes in lemon or auto repair laws. At the end of the lawsuit, you can return the car to the dealership, cancel the contract, request a refund, or keep the vehicle and demand reimbursement of repair expenses.

Can a mechanic hold your car until you pay? A mechanic has the right to withhold your car after fixing it until you pay the repair expenses for the agreed-upon repair. A mechanic holding car hostage for not paying your repair bills is on his right. This is referred to as Mechanic’s lien. If your dealership finishes repairing your car before 30 days and holds it as long as he deems fit until you pay your repair expenses, there are no legal implications.

can i sue a mechanic for taking too long

Why do car mechanics take so long?

While you want to get back on the road as soon as possible and the mechanic wants to repair your car and get paid, delays can happen. Here are the common reasons mechanics take so long to fix your car.

The extent of the damage

When you take your car to a repair shop, the mechanic will first inspect the vehicle to determine the extent of the damage. The extent of the damage is one of the major factors that determines how long it will take to fix the problem.

If the car needs a major repair, it will take longer time to fix because the mechanic may have to order some parts. He will also spend several hours fixing the car when the order finally arrives. But if it is a minor repair, the parts may be available, and it won’t take long to fix.

Insurance claims

Your insurance is another factor that causes your car to spend more time with the mechanic. Insurance providers have their own ways of figuring out and verifying damages. Your mechanic and the insurance provider must figure out the fault. And the mechanic won’t start the repair until he receives a go-ahead from the insurance provider.

The repair shop

This is another notable factor. Some technicians in one repair shop are typically trained or skilled than mechanics in another shop. Also, some repair shops have few mechanics, which means it will take the mechanics more time to attend to a customer compared with the ones with enough skilled technicians.

Additional repairs

When mechanical or electrical damage happens, chances are, there are other related damages. This requires extra time and money to fix. Although the mechanic won’t do additional repairs without your permission, would you rather not fix the additional repair just to save time?

Your car make and model.

You may wonder how this can delay your car repair time. Take a breath. Car repairs often require parts replacement. Some car parts are easily accessible, while others are not.

Believe it or not, car repair shops don’t have all the parts in their stores. Of course, some parts will be around while they will have to source for others in the market. For example, luxury spare parts are not usually around.

Also, if you need OEM spare parts, you will wait for them to make the order. Shipments can be delayed ― which is not a controllable variable to the repair shop.

What is the best day to take your car to the mechanic?

The best days to visit your auto mechanic are those days when they are less busy. This means you should not go to a mechanic shop on holidays, weekends, and rush hours as they are usually busy during these times.

Also, do not visit a mechanic on Monday. Since most shops don’t open on Sundays, they will have a lot of work on Mondays. Hence, the ideal days to visit mechanics are other weekdays ―Tuesdays to Thursdays.

However, if you don’t care about leaving your car at the mechanic overnight, you can visit your mechanic whenever they are open. But remember, your car may sleep over a couple of days.

What can I do if my car is taking too long to repair?

If you are asking, what can I do if the mechanic takes too long? If your dealership or local mechanics withholds your car for any reason other than inability to fix it, the best course of action is to contact and inform them that you’ll file a lawsuit.

If the reason is due to shipment or any other factors listed above, discuss with them to find a solution. They may come to a compromise with you and release the vehicle.

Final words

While each state in the US has lemon laws on new cars, there are six states that have used car lemon laws: Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. While auto repair lawsuits are not common, you may start preparing to take legal action if your dealerships keep your vehicle for repair close to the 30-day mark.

Before taking any legal action, remember that the 30-day mark only applies to your dealership, and the car must be under warranty. Local repair shops have no defined time to how long they can keep your car for repair.

However, they should communicate with you at every phase of the repair, inform you before doing any extra repair, keep written records of the repair job, and provide estimated costs and a final repair invoice to you.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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