What Happens If I Can’t Pay for My Car Repairs?

Paying for car repairs can be a pain, especially if you don’t have the funds to pay for them. Let’s face it, not everyone has money saved up for that one rainy day when their car needs a new timing belt or something even bigger. In that case, you may find yourself in a panic when you’re at the auto repair shop counter and fumbling through your wallet trying to figure how to pay them. What are your options if you can’t pay for your car repairs?

See if there are less-expensive options available

If you find yourself unable to pay for your car’s repair bill, or you know that you won’t be able to afford the estimate that the mechanic gave you, then you can see if there’s a less-expensive option available.

That doesn’t mean that the mechanic should cut corners on your repair, but it could mean that they use cheaper parts or possibly a different route to cut down on the labor cost. You could also ask the auto repair shop if there are any available discounts (AAA or senior discount) to lower the price of the bill.

A car mechanic prepares to perform a tire rotation on a customer vehicle at a Pep Boys Company auto repair and service center in Clarksville, Indiana, on Wednesday, June 3, 2015.
A car mechanic | Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Get only some of the work done

If the auto repair shop is recommended multiple repairs, then you can ask them to defer the repairs by only getting the more pertinent jobs done right away. As long as your car is running fine, then you can possible get the other repairs done at a later time.

Offer to make payments on the repair bill

If you can’t pay your car’s repair bill in full, then you can ask the auto repair shop if they will accept payments toward it instead. Watch out, though, as mechanics have the right to legally put a “mechanic’s lien” on your car if you haven’t paid the bill in 30 days. Although, that law might differ depending on the state that you’re in as some states only require a 10 or 15-day grace period.

This means that your car will sit at the auto repair shop until the bill is paid in full. In that case, you can either find a credit card to pay for the amount or get an auto repair loan.

Mechanic Julio Escobedo prepares to install a tire on a Dodge Caravan.
Mechanic Julio Escobedo prepares to install a tire on a Dodge Caravan. | (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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An auto repair loan can foot the bill

If you need help paying for that large repair bill, then an auto repair loan can come to your rescue. One popular auto repair lender is Dignifi, which currently lends applicants $350 to $7,500 to cover the cost of their auto repairs with a simple application via its handy smartphone app.

Buyers can get approved for a loan within minutes and can even make interest-free payments for up to 90 days. That means that you can actually get all of the recommended repairs done without having to defer some of the repairs, which means that your car will be back on the road in the proper running fashion much quicker. As an added plus, your car won’t have to sit at the shop until you pay the bill, either.