Last Updated: 02.12.2021

So many questions fill your mind when your car stays longer than you expected at the repair shop.

You wonder whether the mechanic has even started looking at the car, or you should call and ask. Even worse is when you want to call them but think you should give them another day or two.

Unless you have a second car, waiting for the first one is not only mentally exhausting as it may also result in other costs like cab services.

If such questions are bugging you right now, let’s look at how long a mechanic can keep your car. 

What If the Garage Refuses to Give Your Car Back?

First, no, the mechanic shouldn’t keep your car just because it’s unsafe for you to drive it. When the mechanic claims you need more repairs, talk to the police. Explain the agreement you had with the mechanic. 

At that point, the mechanic may decide to note down that you refused more repairs then release your car. That way, they absolve themselves from any eventualities on the road when you leave with your car.

judge holding documents with a gavel in front

If asking the police to intervene doesn’t work, you can file a case against the mechanic in court. The authorization you signed to get a quote for the repair cost might help you prove your case if there’s a completion date. But, this process takes a while, and it’s not the best option when you owe the mechanic.

Therefore, if the reason the garage is keeping your car is non-payment, you can pay them, then pursue legal action against the overcharge later. Alternatively, meet with the mechanic and find a solution away from court, as civil action can be messy and tedious. 

What Is the Lemon Law for Cars?

Lemon law seeks to protect car owners from cars that fail to live up to the quality expected upon purchase. In short, it protects you as a buyer from the outcomes of defective cars. For instance, the car may be unsafe, or it may not function. 

Under the lemon law, if the defect is irreparable, the manufacture should give you a replacement. This law applies to all states in the U.S., but there may be some differences in various jurisdictions. These laws apply for a period after purchase. A car in such a defective state is called a lemon, and even used cars can benefit from the lemon law.

Invoking this law can be an option for you when the repairs are back to back that you don’t even use your car because it’s always at the repair shop. 

What Car Problems Does the Lemon Law Cover?

mechanic fixing brake mechanisms

They vary from state to state, but you’ll most likely use these laws for brake pedal failure, engine failure, defective airbags, electrical faults, defective seat belts, and engine fires.

This law doesn’t help when negligence or an accident causes the defects. When this law works in your favor, it eliminates the cost of repairs and ends your trips to the garage.

What Can You Do When a Mechanic Takes Too Long to Repair Your Car?

The first step is to communicate with the mechanic. Let the repair shop know your concerns but ask courteously. You might be surprised to learn that the mechanic is waiting for a shipment of the parts your car needs.

Also, consult another mechanic to know if the repairs you wanted could take that long. You might be growing impatient, yet it’s a big repair job.

mechanic counting the money paid by customer

Another solution would be to pay for the repairs that far and take your car to another mechanic. It’s a wild move that can cost your relationship with the first mechanic, but it might be the only way to get your car back.

How Long Is Too Long When Your Car Is at a Mechanic’s?

On average, it takes about 12 days to repair a car. But remember, this duration depends on the garage and the repair service needed. You can ask for a time estimate and have it written down on an agreement.

You know it’s taking too long when one repair job turns into a string of never-ending repairs. Of course, the mechanic can discover other faults while working on the first repair job. But, remember that a good diagnosis will list all the repairs your car needs. Two, if the costs rise steadily, and the completion date keeps changing, it might be a red flag.

Additionally, if the mechanic didn’t estimate your repairs or give you an agreement, you may be in for some drama when you ask why they are taking too long.

Plus, when you call to ask about the progress, and you’re always on hold or given poor customer service, you might want to wait for your car a little longer. The mechanic may also refuse to own up when it’s their fault.

But, your car may be taking too long because of unforeseen issues as the mechanic handles the main job. That being so, don’t conclude the matter before you hear from the mechanic.

Can a Mechanic Repossess Your Car?

Yes, and it’s what we call a mechanic’s lien. When a mechanic works on your car, and you fail to pay as agreed, the repair shop can seek legal action to recover the resources spent in the repair job. The mechanic’s lien is highly powerful, so you should be wary of this. Learn more about mechanic’s lien in detail to protect yourself. 

The permissible action by the mechanic varies from state to state, but it may allow the repair shop to place your car in an auction.

Should I Pay a Mechanic Who Didn’t Fix Anything?

It’s the mechanic’s right to receive payment for the service rendered, even if it’s only for diagnostics. Therefore, you’re not likely to get your car from the mechanic before you settle the bill amicably. 

But, it’s also your right to complain if the service wasn’t as agreed or if it led to new car issues. It will also be wise to consult another mechanic to know the work done by the first repair shop. If the second mechanic can write down their diagnosis, you can use the information when you file a case to have the first mechanic give you a refund. 

If the mechanic turns down your request for the service, you can consider legal action. But, let the mechanic know that you’re ready to pay for additional costs above the first agreement.