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how long can a dealership hold your car for repair

How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car for Repair?


Anyone considering leasing or purchasing a vehicle knows how important it is that the car is safe and reliable. Unfortunately, despite thorough due diligence prior to a lease or purchase, many of these cars end up with a variety of frustrating problems.

Owners find themselves at the dealership, and often have to wait much longer than expected for their cars to be serviced or repaired.

But what if the dealership does not repair your vehicle in a timely manner? How long can a dealership hold your car for repair? 

The answer to this question depends on various factors.

If the dealership has had your car for an extended period of time you may be entitled to compensation under California Lemon Law. Prequalify below or call (310) 627-2665 for a free case evaluation.

How Long Does the Dealership Legally Have to Repair Your Car?

how long does the dealership have to repair your car

Regardless of if your car is new or used, the car dealership has 30 days to repair your car as long as the vehicle is under warranty. This 30-day period does not have to be consecutive days. If multiple trips to the dealership result in the dealership holding your car for more than 30 days, you are likely entitled to compensation.

Your car also qualifies for compensation under the lemon law if it was under warranty during two or more repair attempts (Could be less than 30 days).

When Did You Purchase the Car?

when did you purchase the car

If you’ve recently purchased a new car, it should not take long to make warranty repairs. But, if your vehicle is second-hand or it has been a while since you bought it, there is a good chance that the car has issues, thus taking longer to repair. 

Older car models may also take longer to repair because parts are typically not as accessible. The dealership will often have to order parts and wait for them to be delivered.  

When communicating with the dealership, set appropriate expectations. Ask them when you should be expecting your vehicle returned. Have them explain what defects need repairs. You can estimate how long it should take to repair your car and the work involved.

Is the Car Under Warranty/Insured?

is the car under warranty

Another factor to consider when judging how long a dealership should hold your car is whether you purchased it with a warranty or not. If there is a warranty, and you are still within that warranty period, contact the dealership and inquire about the reason for the delay. Depending on the nature of the repairs, it may take a long time to repair

Used cars usually have a limited warranty and have specific conditions. Make sure you read the fine print in your warranty before contacting the dealership or filing a complaint. You do not want to file a complaint without a warranty to protect you.

Did You Get an Agreement From the Dealership?

did you get an agreement from the dealership

One of the most important things you can do to ensure you receive your car from the repair shop in time is to have a written agreement stating a timeframe for repair. Although there is no legal requirement to have a signed agreement before repairs, it is always best to have something in writing.

Should the dealership keep your vehicle for a long time, you have a statement in writing to support your claim. Insurance companies usually give about 10-20 days for repairs. In general, this is enough time to make warranty repairs.

How Can You Receive Compensation For A Defective Car?

how can you receive compensation for a defective car

The Lemon law protects consumers who have purchased bad cars. If you purchase a vehicle experiencing issues due to a manufacturing defect, it’s a lemon and may be protected under the lemon law.

Lemon laws are not uniform across the nation but regulated from state to state. If you think you have a lemon you’ll want to look at lemon laws in your state to learn what rights you have. In general, lemon laws consider the car’s issues, how long the owner has been without a vehicle, and how often the owner has sent it for repair.

After considering all the information, the manufacturer may be required to repurchase the car or provide you with a replacement vehicle. 

When opting to make a complaint against a manufacturer, make sure that your paperwork is in order. Documenting everything that happens with your car will help you file a successful claim.

You should document when you started having troubles with the car, what those issues are, when you took the vehicle to the repair shop, how many times, receipts, and how much money, if any, you have spent attempting to get your vehicle fixed.

Steps You Should Take If The Dealership Has Held Your Car For Too Long

After you have given the manufacturer a reasonable amount of time (30 days) to fix your car and gathered your paperwork, your first course of action would be to contact a lemon law attorney

The attorney will gather all valid proof like work orders and invoices for your case. You’ll also want to state what you see as a proper solution, but be clear about what that solution is. If you want a refund, request it. Don’t leave any action you want done unsaid.

An attorney will review the merits of your case at no cost to you. They will then handle any and all communicate with the manufacturer to handle your case.

Cali Lemon Lawyers can do the work and help you get what you deserve. California’s Lemon law states that you may be eligible to get your money back or get another car if your new car can’t be fixed by the dealership, even after several attempts. The law is on your side! 

If you are in this predicament, contact Cali Lemon Lawyers to assist. Let’s turn your lemon into lemonade!

Comments (3)
  • car has been at shop approx. 6 weeks it was towed on Nov.14 2022 for transmission problems it is under the Extended warranty Ford Motor Warranty. the warranty company says if they say its the transmission all they have to do is call them for authortion to replace it. the dealer says they have to tear it apart and send the warranty com. pictures. Warranty company disagrees. I purchased the car new from this dealer. it’s a 2016 ford escape Has 80000 miles on it with a the warranty is good for 160000 miles with a $500.00 deductable. so far i’v paid over $2000.00 in cash for a rental to get back and forth to work. Now I’m a 72 year lady still working to make a living and i can’t continue to pay this money out. Please give me some info on how to precede with this problem.

  • I have a 2013 Hyundai Sonata. My car has been at the dealership for engine failure recall repair for more than two months. They don’t give me any estimated completion days! once they did, the first week of January but they said their mechanic and service manager quit, and now they can’t give me any date… He said months. They don’t give me a loaner because of the volume of waiting for other cars/customers, the corporate only provides a low $ amount for rental and I have to pay everything up front and get reimbursed. Too much money to spend, I can’t do that.

    I need my car. They shouldn’t be able to tell me there is nothing we can do!

  • I bought my 2014 Jeep Cherokee with 27K miles on it from Autonation in June 2022. Late 2022, the transmission light came on and I took it to the dealership. They said it the computer codes just needed updated and it wasn’t covered by warranty so I paid $400. Well, in December I relocated to PA and the transmission light came on again so I took it to a dealership in PA on 12/21/22. They said they just cleared some codes and it was fine. Then Jan 4th the light came back on and I took it back to them. It took them over a week to diagnose my car because they ordered the transmission on 1/18/23. Today is 2/16/23 and I still do not have my car and it only has 35K miles on it. My extended warranty gave me 10 days rental car for up to $35/day. I’ve used up those days and I still do not have my car. It’s been over a month. The transmission was ordered on 1/18/23 with an initial eta of 1/30…then 2/1….then 2/7….then 2/15 and now 2/22. I always have to call the dealership because they never call to give me updates. However, when I reached out to Chrysler to open a case…they dealership let me know that chrysler called them and it’s not their fault….I understand but the dealership is not giving me a loaner and now I have to pay out of pocket. That is not fair and I need my job for work. I paid a car note, car insurance but I don’t have my car and it seems like nobody cares. MOPAR was rude and told me due to the year of my car and mileage, I need to deal with the dealership. Well, the parts come from them. This is frustrating and not fair to the consumer.

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