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“How long can a mechanic legally keep your car to fix?” is a common question among car owners, and it’s not hard to see why. No one loves to go extended periods without their car, and this also applies even when the car is being repaired. While car repairs take time, there is still a legal limit that applies to mechanics on how long they can keep your car to fix.
Continue reading this guide to find out how long you can leave your car with your mechanic.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- 1 What Is the Legal Time Period for a Mechanic To Fix Your Car?
- 2 What To Do if a Mechanic Exceeds the Time Period To Fix Your Car?
- 3 Can Keeping O/D off for Too Long Cause Mechanical Issues in Your Car?
- 4 What Factors Determine How Long a Mechanic Keeps Your Car?
What Is the Legal Time Period for a Mechanic To Fix Your Car?
The legal time period for a mechanic to fix your car is 30 days. Beyond this time period, you have the right to take legal action using a law called the “Lemon Law.” However, this law only applies to mechanics in a car dealership and not in independent repair shops.
However, there are instances where the repairs may be extensive enough to keep your car for more than a month (30 days). These cars are referred to as “Lemons” and are regarded as unsafe to drive. In these instances, depending on where the mechanics are located, you can take legal action and get compensated accordingly.
Does the Lemon Rule Vary With the Location of the Mechanic’s Shop?
Yes, the Lemon Rule varies with the location of the mechanic’s repair shop. The 30-day limit for mechanics to fix your car only applies to mechanics in a repair shop that is physically situated in a car dealership and not in independent auto repair shops.
For independent repair shops, there is no limit on how long mechanics can keep your car to fix. Of course, you wouldn’t want your car to be kept for more than 30 days regardless of the mechanic’s location, but even after 30 days in independent shops, you cannot take legal action.
If there are other types of documentation involved when dealing with independent repair shops, you still reserve the right to press charges. However, specifically for the 30-day law that applies to mechanics in car dealerships, there is nothing you can do legally about independent mechanics.
Does the Lemon Lawsuit Vary Across the United States?
Yes, the Lemon lawsuit varies across the United States, although it applies in all states. This means the requirements for taking legal action against a repair shop that has kept your car for more than 30 days vary. Make sure to check the related laws in your state.
What To Do if a Mechanic Exceeds the Time Period To Fix Your Car?
If a mechanic exceeds the legal time period to fix your car, you should get in touch with a Lemon attorney. Inform them of the case, and they will decide whether they want to take the case. If they do, you may be entitled to a form of compensation.
Here are the steps you can take:
- Contact an attorney who specializes in Lemon cases, and inform the attorney of your situation. You will be required to provide information on the situation.
- Attorneys will usually request proof of ownership and payment for the vehicle, as well as other invoices that may be related to the car. Then, attorneys may ask what you desire from the legal action. You should not be conservative and state exactly what you hope for.
- The attorney can accept or reject your case depending on the information you submit. If the car attorney, after reviewing the case, deems it promising, they will accept you as their client. Typically, you will not be charged for this review.
- After taking you as a client, the attorney will handle all communication with the car manufacturer and dealership. The first step is generally a request that the manufacturer settle with you outside of the courtroom. The manufacturer may take this offer on if they believe your complaint is valid and reasonable.
- If the manufacturer does not want an out-of-court settlement, your attorney files a lawsuit, and the case goes to court.
- The court will consider the specifics of the case, including how long your car has been kept, the additional repairs, and other related factors. More often than not, the court will side with you.
What Is the Compensation for a Mechanic Keeping Your Car for Too Long?
The compensation for a mechanic keeping your car for too long depends on the exact case and your attorney’s requests. This may range from the manufacturer offering to cover the repair costs to you getting an entirely new car or a refund.
Your attorney will typically ask you what you want from the manufacturer, and the attorney will also advise you on the best course of action. You should not hesitate to demand what you feel you are entitled to, considering the stress the dealership mechanics have put you through by retaining your car for more than 30 days.
The manufacturer may negotiate with your attorney and try to come up with a solution that favors their company and brand. Your attorney will also try to get the best out of the case and strike a deal that fully benefits you. It is possible to reach a compromise at this stage.
If the manufacturer is not proposing a solution reasonable to your attorney, the case may proceed to court. The court has the final say on the case and what you are entitled to from the manufacturer.
Can Keeping O/D off for Too Long Cause Mechanical Issues in Your Car?
What Factors Determine How Long a Mechanic Keeps Your Car?
The factors that determine how long a mechanic keeps your car include the type of damage to your car, the car model, the quality of the mechanics at the vehicle repair shop, the insurance terms of the car, and the mechanic’s lien.
The Nature of the Damage
The type of damage on your car is a major determining factor in how long it will take manufacturers to fix the car. Logically, you can expect that larger damages will require more time to fix than smaller ones.
For example, replacing the engine oil can take as little as 45 minutes. It takes just a few hours to replace the car’s brake pad or fix the steering wheel. You may have it done while you wait at the mechanic’s shop. However, for engine issues or problems with the car’s transmission, you may have to wait for days to get your car back.
Sometimes, issues that are considered minor may take longer to fix if the repair shop does not have the right parts. This may happen with vehicles that are not common in that particular region or that are made by foreign manufacturers.
The Car Model
The exact car brand and model can influence how long it takes mechanics to complete the repairs. People with luxury cars may have to wait longer to get their vehicles as repair shops may not have the parts required in the vehicle. Also, people with much older cars can be disadvantaged as the parts for the vehicle may also not be readily available.
Quality of Mechanics
The quality of the repair shop can affect how long your car spends in repair shops. Expectedly, repair shops with better mechanics and better management will take shorter times to fix your car. However, this is not always the case.
On some occasions, repair shops with quality mechanics may have a long waiting list, and you may have to wait longer for the mechanics to start working on your car. Nonetheless, you should not compromise quality when it comes to handling your vehicle to protect you and others, as well as to prevent a relapse of the issues.
For cars with insurance, mechanics require the insurance company to examine the vehicle before they can get involved. This may lengthen the process significantly, especially if the insurance company delays the process or is unsure of the validity of the complaints with the car.
When you drop your vehicle with the mechanic to fix it, they usually take a lien on the vehicle. This means they have the right to withhold your vehicle if you have not paid for the repairs per the terms of your agreement.
There are instances where car owners may be unsatisfied with the repair costs and may feel the mechanics are trying to exploit them. Even then, mechanics can still keep your car until you pay for the repairs.
After you have completed your payment, however, you can file a complaint with the appropriate authorities in your region. You have to first request that the repair shop outline all of the duties they carried out on your car and the parts purchased with their corresponding costs.
If you notice that the mechanic has carried out repairs you did not authorize, you can take legal action.
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