What Happens If You Can't Afford Your Car Repair

What Happens If You Can't Afford Your Car Repair

In this post, we explain the different options if you can't pay your car repair bill and explain if it's true that garages can keep your car if you don't pay. 

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

Yes. Do be aware however that under UK law, mechanics can put a lien on your car if you don’t pay the bill in full within 30 days. That could mean leaving your car in the garage until the bill is fully paid. To avoid that happening you might want to put part of the bill on a credit card or consider a dedicated auto repair loan. 

What are your car repair financing options? 

If your auto repair bill is more than you expected and you can't afford to pay it, here are six things you can do.

1. Ask if there's a cheaper alternative

If the estimate you’ve received for a repair job is surprisingly high, ask the mechanic if there’s a less-expensive option available. 

That doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or risking further problems later. Sometimes an estimate is based on certain part brands and the highest hourly labour rate. With a bit of flexibility, the garage might be able to use cheaper parts or find a workaround to cut down the cost.

Can a mechanic use used parts to repair my car?

Using reconditioned parts or parts from a breaker can often save lots of money on repair bills. Certain parts such as AC compressors, Alternators, gearboxes and more can be bought used online, however, we wouldn't recommend fitting used safety-critical parts such as braking or steering components, unless they’re reconditioned by an expert first. 

How to buy used car parts

A good way to find second-hand parts for your car is to search on places like eBay, where you can select ‘used’ under the condition filter, and often find breakers listing the exact part. There are often good-quality pictures of what condition the part is in.

If there isn’t a specific item you can search for general breaking ads, such as “Ford Fiesta 2010 breaking”. These will usually be items listed for a token amount - say £1.00. From this listing contact the seller to ask if they have the required component.

Will a mechanic fit used parts?

Oftentimes garages are very reluctant to fit used parts, and some even refuse to fit any parts apart from the ones they have sourced. Explain your situation, and be aware that you will most likely forgo any warranty on the work provided, as the parts will not have a guarantee themselves.

If you explain that you’re comfortable with this to the mechanic, they may be more likely to complete the work for you.

2. Do the repairs in phases 

If the service centre is recommending you do a series of repairs, ask if you can prioritise them and do only the most crucial fixes first. If you can break the whole job up into phases and control the timings, you’ll be better able to manage the overall cost. So long as there’s no safety risk to deferring some repairs, let the fixes that can wait ‘til later, wait ‘til later. 

Can my car repairs wait?

Depending on the kind of issue your car is having, it might not be an urgent issue that needs to be fixed straight away, although bear in mind that some smaller problems can often turn into bigger ones in the future if un-fixed.

If your car has any issues with the brakes, steering, suspension, exhaust or engine, we would suggest not driving it until it’s fixed, but ask your mechanic if your fault needs to be fixed right away, and the likely consequences if it wasn’t.

3. Offer to clear the bill in more than one payment 

If you can’t clear your car’s repair bill in one go, ask the service centre if they’ll let you break up the bill into multiple payments.  Some garages will let you do this or may even offer their own basic in-house financing for large repair jobs. 

4. Get a second quote 

Some garages are more expensive than others, and depending on what time, tools and expertise they have available, their prices may vary depending on whether they want to take on the job or not.

If you’ve been quoted a large repair bill, gather the information the garage has used to draft that quote, symptoms, tests conducted etc, and phone around a few other local garages.

Can a specialist garage repair my car cheaper?

In some cases, a garage with no experience tackling your particular job may quote higher purely because they’re unsure how long the repair will take. Specialist garages, those that focus on your particular brand or type of car, may have much more experience and confidence and will be able to fix the problem cheaper. 

5. Popping it on your credit card 

Credit cards are a simple way to cover any unexpected expense, though the interest can make an already large bill even bigger. 

Still, if you're stuck with a big repair bill sometimes the most straightforward solution is the best one. If you have a 0% APR deal and can pay down the balance quickly, putting it on your card might not be so painful. But if you have a standard interest rate, you’re going to have to take the extra hit. 

In that case, the interest rate on a dedicated car repair loan might be more attractive.

6. Consider car repair loans 

An auto repair loan is a loan or credit line designed specifically to cover car repairs. Most of the firms specialising in car repair loans know that repairs often land without warning, so they try and make the process simple so you can get the cash you need ASAP. 

Any lender will want you to have good credit, but car repair loan specialists typically offer loans for people with poor credit too. Note though, that you’ll likely pay higher fees or accept a less generous interest rate. 

Try Bumper 

Bumper lets you split a hefty repair bill into smaller, easy-to-manage, interest-free payments. It works like this: 

  1. Enter your vehicle registration number and postcode
  2. Select a local repair centre from our network
  3. Complete a simple credit application for up to £5,000 
  4. Receive your unique Bumper Code
  5. Book your appointment

The whole process takes a matter of minutes. Bumper lets you get the repairs you need quickly while deferring payments in easy interest-free instalments. Visit our How It Works page to find out more or search for a trusted repairer near you.

Related Posts