How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car for Repair? (2023)

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If you have ever dropped your car off at a dealership, you know that it can take a long time for them to finish. This issue can be very frustrating if you need your car for critical aspects of your life. The longer a vehicle sits inside the shop, the more it might seem like you will never get it back. How long can a dealership hold your car for repair?

Keep reading to learn more about how long a dealership can hold your car for repair. Many are unaware that a limit exists. It can be helpful to know this just in case you run into a situation where a dealership seems as though they have kidnapped your car. You can be forward with the legalities that exist.

How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car?

So, how long can a dealership hold your car for repair? This is a vital question to ask. It could help you speed up a process that tends to take a long time. A few items might cause the length of time to extend. However, there is generally a set amount of time that they can keep your car for repairs.

According to, a dealership can hold your car for about 30 days. After this, you are potentially entitled to:

  • A lemon law case, which you can further understand with research
  • Financial compensation for the time that has been wasted
  • Various consumer rights depending on the scenario

All of these can be given to you if the dealership holds your car for more than 30 days.

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Of course, there might be some legitimate reasons why they are holding your vehicle for so long. It is dangerous to drive a broken car on the road. If they give you an honest explanation for the length of time, you might want to negotiate a discount or something similar to avoid conflict. They are most likely trying to give you the best possible fix.


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What Repairs Take the Longest?

A dealership can hold a car for a maximum of 30 days. However, there are a few repairs that are more intricate than others. If your vehicle is in the shop for any of these, you might want to talk to the car dealership before making any drastic choices. It might just be a simple misunderstanding that can quickly be resolved through a little bit of communication.

According to, some of the repairs that will take a dealership the longest include:

  • Engine replacements can be extensive due to all of the smaller parts that are connected to the engine
  • Clutch alterations, which also involve removing the transmission
  • Spark plug replacements, which are small and tricky to work with
  • Transmission repairs, which are often brought in at the most desperate stages

All of these repairs can take a long time. They are very detailed and tend to use intricate parts.

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Theoretically, none of these repairs should take longer than thirty days. However, it is critical to remember that dealerships are not perfect. They might be waiting for a car part necessary to repair or replace components of the vehicle, or they may be carefully taking on the task you have presented them with to fix. Communication is vital when finding out what is going on.


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What Do You Do If They Take Longer Than the Requested Time?

If a dealership takes longer than thirty days to return your car to you, you might be wondering what your next steps should be. This information is vital when understanding how long a dealership can hold your vehicle for repair. If a dealership keeps your vehicle for more than thirty days, you can pursue a case against them.

If the dealership keeps the car for longer than the requested amount of time, you should:

  • Contact a legal group that can assist you with the next steps
  • Get a case evaluation
  • Check-in with the dealership to see if anything can be resolved without legal action

You can do all of these if the dealership hangs on to your car for longer than expected. There are a few other options, but these are the most common actions that you can take.

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Talking to them should always be your first point of action. If you can resolve everything without conflict, you will be better at it. Legal action can be pricey if you are in the wrong. Ensure that you have exhausted all of your options before taking one that will cost you money.

Can You Request a Timeframe for Completion?

You can always inform the dealership if you have a specific timeframe that you would like your car done. Sometimes, they can’t shorten a timespan. However, informing them does not hurt. You can even let them know about the limit and tell them the action you will take if they exceed that.

Dealerships should not take more than thirty days to fix your car. They should not be able to take your vehicle from you for more time than is necessary. There are very few circumstances where they do this for a legitimate reason. If you cannot reach a logical conclusion with a dealership, you should look into legal action.


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It can be frustrating when a dealership holds your car for a long time. It slows down your life, but it causes distrust and anger that is unnecessary. You might wonder how long a dealership can hold your car for repair before legal repercussions occur. Are you able to take hold of the car issue and inform some higher authorities of the extended repair time?

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On average, a dealership can hold your car for a maximum of thirty days. Beyond this, some issues might arise. Ensure that you make that clear upfront with a dealership before you drop your car off. If they go past this length and do not have a good explanation, there are measures that you can take to get your vehicle back.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will insurance pay for car rental while my car is in the shop?

Insurance doesn’t guarantee that car rental is covered while your vehicle is in the shop for repair. It will always depend on the nature of your coverage. Basic insurance will not include car rental coverage in most cases, but it’s available as optional coverage. Keep in mind that this will slightly increase your premiums too.

What are the factors that might delay my car repair?

Unfortunately, there’s always a possibility that the repair will be delayed, and that’s always frustrating. Many factors can potentially delay the repair, including:

  • The mechanic is sick or has a family emergency.
  • The mechanic simply needs more time to complete the job.
  • The mechanic found additional repairs that must be addressed (but they’ll have to inform you).
  • The insurance provider failed to pay the dealership on time and may keep your car as collateral.

Regardless of the reason for the delay, the shop will almost always keep you updated.

What can you do if you’re not satisfied with the repair duration?

Your car may be driven or towed to another shop in extreme cases. Although it’s understandable if the shop needs more time with your vehicle, some wait times can be unreasonable. If you can’t get in touch with the shop, call your insurance provider asap.

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How long is too long for a car to be in the shop? ›

On average, a dealership can hold your car for a maximum of thirty days. Beyond this, some issues might arise. Ensure that you make that clear upfront with a dealership before you drop your car off.

What do I do if my garage is taking too long to fix my car? ›

If the repair is taking too long

You can ask the garage for a courtesy car (this is a car that the garage will give you to use - not all garages will offer this). Keep a record of everything extra you spend on travel - you might need to prove this later on.

What are my rights with car repairs? ›

When a garage services or repairs you car, your consumer rights as a buyer are protected in law. This means that your garage must: fit replacement parts that are in good condition, that are able to do the job and that will last a reasonable length of time. use reasonable skill and care.

What takes the longest to fix on a car? ›

After surveying a variety of testimonials from automotive mechanics, these were widely claimed to be the most difficult car repairs to perform.
Most Challenging Car Repairs
  1. Replacing an Engine.
  2. Clutch. ...
  3. Spark Plugs. ...
  4. Transmission. ...

How long can a car be at a mechanic? ›

How long can a mechanic keep my car? There is no legal limit to how long a mechanic can keep your car. If you are unsatisfied with your service, you can always take your business elsewhere and try to find another mechanic.

How long can a car sit around? ›

Typically, your car can sit about four weeks to two months without driving before the battery dies. The reason your car can sit only for so long before it dies is the fact that your car battery is in use even when you're not behind the wheel.

Can a garage refuse to release your car? ›

A garage that has repaired your car has what is known as a 'lien'. This is the right to keep the car until they've been paid for all work done.

When should you not trust a mechanic? ›

If you see a lot of 5-star ratings and read about top quality work, this may be the mechanic for you. If reviews are lukewarm or worse, keep shopping. Also, if you see a lot of cars in the lot without much turnover and mechanics wandering around or getting off-task, you may want to look elsewhere for service.

How long should it take to fix a car? ›

Car repair shops rarely get jobs done in a single day and often complete them after two to five days -sometimes up to a week. However, there are some vehicle repair jobs that can take longer-like months.

Can a car dealer refuse to repair? ›

Regardless of how aggrieved you feel about your problem, there is always a strong chance that you won't get your problem resolved the way you want it. You need to be prepared to accept that the dealer may have no obligation to fix your problem, even if leaves you with a broken car or a large bill.

Can you insist on car being repaired? ›

After a non-fault collision

You can choose to have your vehicle fixed by a vehicle repairer of your choice. Your insurer, or a Company appointed to handle your claim, may recommend a repairer but they cannot insist that you use such a repairer. It is always your right to control what happens with your vehicle.

Does a car dealer have a right to repair? ›

Unless you've agreed otherwise, the seller (dealer) has only one opportunity to repair (or replace) the faulty vehicle after which, if they fail to repair it, you're entitled to a refund.

At what point is repairing a car not worth it? ›

If the cost of repairs exceeds the car's value, it's probably best to get a new car instead. Sometimes, when a car with high mileage needs a significant repair or if your car is totaled, you might consider replacing it with a new or used vehicle.

What are the most expensive car repairs? ›

What Are The Most Expensive Types Of Repairs?
  1. The Engine. It's no surprise that the heart of your car – the thing that makes it go – can be a large expense if not working properly. ...
  2. The Transmission. ...
  3. The Head Gasket. ...
  4. The Camshaft. ...
  5. The Brake Line.

How long does the repair shop take? ›

The Repair Shop
EditorsHal Watmough Shelley Hamilton-Smith Tracey Ashcroft Clare Childs Ant Hayes
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes (Series 1) 45 minutes (Series 2-5, 7 & 9) 60 minutes (Series 6, 8 & 10)
Production companyRicochet
22 more rows

What happens if my car can't be fixed? ›

All 50 states have some form of Lemon Law which mandates that manufacturers must buy back or replace fatally flawed cars. That is, the cars that cannot be repaired after a certain number of repair attempts or days in the shop. This is often four times OR 30 days in the first year.

What happens if a mechanic doesn't fix the problem? ›

Don't Be Afraid to Get a Second Opinion

If you don't feel like the mechanic did the repair right, take it to another auto shop so they can properly evaluate the repair and re-diagnose the issue. You may have to pay a diagnostic fee.

How long can you sit in garage with car running? ›

Poison gas leaking into the house poses a serious threat.

Warming a car for just two minutes raises the CO level to a dangerous 500 ppm. Measurable concentrations may linger for as much as 10 hours. People working in the garage as much as 10 hours later remain in danger.

Is it OK to sleep in a car with the windows up? ›

Contrary to some beliefs, a car isn't airtight. So you can sleep in your car with the windows up without any issues to your health. The main issue you may have with sleeping in your car with the windows up deals with your comfort level. With the windows up, you aren't going to get much ventilation.

What to do if car has been sitting for a year? ›

If the car has sat a long time, all the fluids need to be flushed and replaced along with hoses, seals and gaskets which most likely have dried up and become brittle. The gas tank most likely will be laminated on the inside if it contains old gas and would either need replacement, heavy-duty cleaning or sandblasting.

On what grounds can police seize your car? ›

The police have the power to seize your vehicle if: You're driving without adequate car insurance cover. Your driver's license doesn't certify you to drive that type of vehicle. Your driving is inconsiderate, careless or dangerous and is causing alarm or distress to others.

Where can I complain about a mechanic? ›

This can be done as follows: If you are online, you can simply complete the online Assistance Request Form; or. You can download the Assistance Request Form, complete it fully and either email it to or fax it to 086 630 6141; or.

How do I complain about a poor garage service? ›

In order to resolve a dispute regarding the standard of work, you should firstly raise your concern with the garage directly, ideally by submitting a formal complaint to the business in line with their in-house complaints procedure.

How do you know if a mechanic is scamming you? ›

How To Know If Your Mechanic Is Scamming You - 10 Things to Watch Out For
  • The Never Ending Repair.
  • The Scare Attempt.
  • Fishy Terms.
  • Cheap Spares.
  • Unnecessary Repairs.
  • Refusal to Show the Old Car Parts.
  • Straying From the Manual.
  • No Clear Explanation of the Issue.
10 Aug 2022

Do mechanics get mad if you bring your own parts? ›

Most mechanics you contact will not be thrilled about the idea of allowing you to bring in your own parts. Although they may accept it once you make it clear that you do not expect a warranty, they will understandably be concerned about the quality of the product and the likelihood of a breakdown.

How do you know if a car mechanic is ripping you off? ›

  • Charging you full price for remanufactured parts. By and large, there's nothing wrong with remanufactured parts. ...
  • Perpetually chasing down your problem. If your mechanic suspects part X will fix your problem, and it doesn't, be very leery of any additional repairs. ...
  • Not grouping repairs when calculating labor.
25 Aug 2015

How long does it take for a mechanic to replace an engine? ›

Replacing a car engine typically takes eight to 15 hours depending on the make and model of your car and the mechanic you choose. However, your mechanic may quote you for a longer wait time, especially if the parts in your engine are hard to find. For an exact repair time estimate, contact your mechanic.

How long does it take a mechanic to diagnose a problem? ›

But you can expect an average diagnostic test to take about an hour and a half. If the issue is complicated, the mechanic may have to remove a few components of your car for access and further testing. Expect your car to be tied up for two to three hours in those instances.

Why do car parts take so long? ›

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, car parts, from windshields to electronics, have been hard to come by. Materials are challenging to secure for manufacturing. Materials, parts and components are stuck sitting on cargo ships.

What happens if a car on finance breaks down? ›

Before the scrapyard can take legal possession of the broken down car, you need to secure ownership of the car finance institution first. This means you have to pay your obligation completely before you can sell the car for parts.

Can a garage keep my car if I don't pay? ›

If you are refusing to pay while you dispute the bill, the garage has the right to keep your vehicle until the debt is paid. If you need the vehicle back before you can settle the dispute, you should pay “under protest”.

What happens if your engine blows on a financed car? ›

“If your engine blows up on a financed car, you're still on the hook for the payment. Unfortunately, your car insurance won't pay for the damages either, as even full-coverage policies won't cover this.

Can a car be considered totaled due to mechanical failure? ›

Key Takeaways. Insurance companies deem a vehicle a total loss when the cost of repairing the car is more than its actual cash value (ACV). A car can become totaled after an accident, a natural calamity, theft or even failure to change the oil regularly leads to complete engine failure.

Can I get a courtesy car if my car is written off? ›

Courtesy vehicle – Most insurers provide a 'Class A' courtesy car whilst a vehicle is being repaired, but not when a vehicle is written off. A courtesy car may be provided whilst the cost of repair is being assessed, but once the decision is made you will be asked to return the vehicle within a few days.

Does insurance cover if your engine blows? ›

Typically, car insurance does not cover engine failure, even if you have full coverage. The exception is if the mechanical problem or blown engine can be directly linked to a covered claim.

What is covered under right to repair? ›

Only certain types of repairs are covered under the right to repair scheme. These are called qualifying repairs. They include insecure windows and doors, unsafe power sockets or electrical fittings, leaking roofs and broken entry phone systems. A full list of the qualifying repairs is set out at the end of this page.

Do cars fall under Consumer Rights Act? ›

Introduction. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) now governs the sale of goods (including cars) to consumers. As a second-hand car dealer you need to know how the law affects you and your customers.

Is right to repair a consumer right? ›

The term “right to repair” refers to legislation that would enable consumers to independently repair and modify their own consumer goods (such as electronic, automotive, or farm machinery like tractors) where the manufacturers of such products would otherwise require the consumer to use only their offered services by ...

What takes the longest to repair on a car? ›

After surveying a variety of testimonials from automotive mechanics, these were widely claimed to be the most difficult car repairs to perform.
Most Challenging Car Repairs
  1. Replacing an Engine.
  2. Clutch. ...
  3. Spark Plugs. ...
  4. Transmission. ...

What do mechanics say is the most reliable car? ›

What are the most reliable car brands?
  • Lexus. This brand stays at the top, year after year. ...
  • Toyota. Many Toyota models are among the most popular cars worldwide because they are affordable, dependable, and easy to maintain.
  • Mazda. ...
  • Kia. ...
  • Honda. ...
  • Buick. ...
  • Hyundai.
14 Jun 2022

What car breaks down the most? ›

1. Chrysler. Chrysler vehicles are some of the most unreliable on the market. They've been ranked as the least reliable car brand for three years in a row by Consumer Reports.

Is it better to repair or replace a car? ›

Generally speaking, it is almost always less expensive to repair a car than buy a new one. Even something as severe as an engine or transmission rebuild will cost you roughly $1,200 to $5,000 — far less than buying a new car.

What to do with a car that is too expensive to repair? ›

You have several options to get rid of your vehicle, including:
  1. Sell it to the repair shop, as they can use it for parts.
  2. Sell the vehicle online.
  3. Get scrap money for it.
  4. Sell to an enthusiast who restores vehicles as a passion project or to a younger kid as a fixer-upper.
29 Oct 2021

Can you negotiate car repair costs? ›

If you find out that the quote is excessive, it's time to haggle! Politely tell the auto technician about your findings and explain why you think their estimate is too high. If they don't lower the price, let them know you'll be shopping around with other mechanics.

How much is full body work on a car? ›

While the cost of auto body repair varies drastically. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $75-$2,500 for a quality repair job on a range of minor paint or body damage. That price is dependent upon several factors. Labor costs vary between auto body shops, so keep this in mind also.

What happens if you don't have the money to pay the mechanic? ›

If you've had work done on your car and you don't pay the person or company you hired, they may take legal action, known as a mechanic's lien, to recover the cost of their parts or labor. Depending on your state's law, an unpaid mechanic's lien may allow the lienholder to sell your car at auction.

Is it worth fixing a car for more than it's worth? ›

Your financial situation is a major factor when debating between repairing or selling a car. If your car has a lot of life left and a good value, repairing it is likely a good decision. If your car isn't worth the cost of the repairs, you might be better off selling it.

Can you store a car for 3 months? ›

Add fresh fluids.

If you plan to park your car for more than a few months, consider changing the fluids. Used engine oil, brake fluid and power steering fluid trap contaminants that could damage your vehicle over time. By adding brand new fluids, you'll give your car a better chance of avoiding any future issues.

What is the time range for I have to shop for cars without hurting my credit? ›

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends that you get all of your shopping done within ther 14-day window to minimize the impact that credit inquiries have on your credit. FICO, the Fair Isaac Corporation that calculates your credit score puts the shopping window at as long as 45-days.

Is it OK to not drive your car for a month? ›

Not necessarily: We recommend driving every two to three weeks to make it less likely that you wind up with a dead battery, flat-spotted tires or other issues that can be caused by letting a car sit parked for weeks. Related: How Long Do Tires Last?

Is it better to store a car with a full tank of gas? ›

Choose a clean, dry garage or storage facility, as damp air can cause rusting. Ideally, store your car in a climate-controlled facility. Fill the gas tank completely full. An empty or low gas tank will lead to internal rust as condensation and moisture builds within the tank.

Does running your credit for a car hurt your credit? ›

Shopping for the best deal on an auto loan will generally have little to no impact on your credit score(s). The benefit of shopping will far outweigh any impact on your credit. In some cases, applying for multiple loans over a long period of time can lower your credit score(s).

What is the lowest credit score to buy a car? ›

In general, you'll need a credit score of at least 600 to qualify for a traditional auto loan, but the minimum credit score required to finance a car loan varies by lender. If your credit score falls into the subprime category, you may need to look for a bad credit car loan.

What is not a good credit score to buy a car? ›

In general, lenders look for borrowers in the prime range or better, so you will need a score of 661 or higher to qualify for most conventional car loans.


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