For those who need their cars on a daily basis for commuting, dropping them at a dealership for repairs can be frustrating. That’s because they may take a long time to finish the work and hand your precious ride back to you. To make matters worse, the longer your car sits with the dealer, the higher the amount you may have to pay.
So how long can a dealer hold your car for repair?
Most car owners are unaware that the law places a limitation on the amount of time your dealer can keep your car. Knowing such can give you an upper hand when you’re about to hand your car over.
Some Repair Work Take Longer than Usual
An important point of note here is that some repair work takes longer than others. Be it due to extensive efforts or the intricacy of the work required, not all repairs are the same. For example, an engine repair takes much longer than a simple wheel alignment or paint job.
If you’re unsure how much work is required, you may want to discuss it with the dealer before making a decision.
During our 35 years of experience as certified mechanics for European cars, we’ve found the following repair works to take longer than others:
Engine Part Replacement
There are several small parts connected to the main engine of your car. In case of any repair work, all these parts must be disconnected and connected back. That’s complex work.
In case of clutch alterations, the gearbox needs to be removed.
Spark Plug Replacements
Spark plugs again require precision and intricacy, which causes a delay in repairs.
Gearbox repair is one of the most sophisticated jobs for a mechanic.
There can be other factors at play here too. Sometimes, a car part or accessory takes longer to arrive, affecting the duration of the repair work.
You’re Entitled to Consumer Rights
First, you must know that you’re entitled to consumer rights and other legal recourse when giving your car for repairs. In this case, knowing your rights is vital, as it can help expedite the process.
There’s a certain amount of time for which the dealer can hold your vehicle for repair, after which they must return your car. Sure, some repairs take longer than others which causes this time duration to increase. But generally speaking, your dealer can only hold your car for up to 30 days as long as your car is under warranty.
If the dealer exceeds this time limit, you have the following options:
- Obtain financial compensation for an extended period of time;
- Various consumer rights legislation; and
- File a lemon law case (regulations to protect the consumer against defective products or services that don’t meet the desired quality or usefulness).
Having said this, several valid reasons for a delay in returning your car may exist. Some repair work, like engine repairs, takes longer than servicing other parts. If the dealer has legitimate reasons to hold your car for more than 30 days, you can negotiate for a discount or use other measures before entering a legal battle.
Remember, communication with your dealer throughout the process is key! They may have a valid justification for the extended period, but you still need to ensure that the delay isn’t caused by intent or neglect.
What to do if your Dealer Takes Longer than the Agreed Timeframe?
So what happens if you had a pre-agreed timeline with your dealer and they have still exceeded the duration?
If your dealer exceeds the specified amount of time, you can:
- Negotiate with your dealer to resolve the issue amicably;
- If nothing comes to fruition, contact a lemon law attorney and have your case evaluated.
Ultimately, transparency between the dealer and the car’s owner is vital. If the dealership has helped your car for more than 30 days, your first plan of action should always be to resolve things without conflict.
A legal court case may be lengthy and expensive if the evidence doesn’t add up in your favor. When all other options have been exhausted, hiring an attorney for a full-blown court case should be your last recourse.