How to Know if a Mechanic is Taking Too Long With Car Repairs

Conor Fynes
Apr 27, 2022 · 5 min read
There is no official limit to how long a garage can take with a car, but there is definitely a fine line between good business conduct and taking too long.
The difference can be hard to tell though, so you need to know how to act when you suspect something's up. The last thing you want is to spend more time, money, and energy than needed to fix your car.
In this article, insurance broker Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about how long it takes to repair a car, and what you should do if you think your mechanic is taking too long with your car.
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Reach a clear understanding of the estimated repair time beforehand

Talk about the estimated time it will take to do repairs beforehand. While this isn't really an issue for minor checkups and fixes, it can be a concern for major repairs, when a car could be in shop for days or even weeks.
Mechanics will not try to overstretch a time estimate at the risk of losing the customer's business entirely. Having set limits expressed beforehand is a pre-emptive way to protect yourself against needless delays. A written record of the time and cost in advance will make sure the mechanic holds true to his word.

Minor fixes shouldn't take more than a day

For a lot of the smaller repairs and fixes, just a few hours is a reasonable time for car repairs. There shouldn't be a problem if the shop tells you to sit-in or come back later in the day. Especially in the case of an appointment where you wait, an auto shop will prioritize your car.
Questions about repair times and delays may become more of an issue in the case of major repairs and damage. There is no legal limit on how long a garage needs to keep a car. The garage's general level of activity and workload will also affect how long the more exhaustive repairs take.
Also, keep in mind that repairs will naturally take longer if your car is a special or vintage make, as the parts may need to be ordered.
Key Takeaway: Minor issues should be same-day repairs, but it's harder to tell when it comes to bigger problems. Note that special and vintage models will usually take longer as well.

Understand that unforeseen issues can arise that increase the time a mechanic keeps your car

Things aren't always as cut and dried as they first appear in the estimate. While mechanic and customer alike should have a reasonably accurate idea of the timeframe, things rarely follow through perfectly according to plan. In addition to unforeseen car troubles, the mechanic may become ill, have a family emergency, or otherwise be out of commission for a few days.
Asking the mechanic to keep you apprised on any new developments with the car repairs can help your peace of mind, especially if you've been placed at a severe inconvenience without your vehicle.

What to do if you think a mechanic is taking too long

If you suspect the mechanic is keeping your car for longer than is reasonable, you may consider bringing up the question with another auto shop. If you know a friend with professional experience in a garage, that can work as well.
Compile all of the information about the repairs you have and take it to another professional to get their opinion on it. Although the conditions of each garage will vary, there's usually a clear difference between a reasonable timeframe and an instance where things have been taken grossly out of hand.

Find a mechanic who will stick with you

If you find a mechanic you've had consistently good business experiences with as a customer, you won't need to worry about mistreatment or undue delays. But even with a mechanic you're not used to yet, it's sometimes worth it to give them the benefit of the doubt if the explanation and delays were within reasonable limits.
For good and bad experiences alike, leaving a comment on business review sites like Yelp may persuade (or dissuade) others from a given shop, based on the way you were treated. Don't underestimate the effect these user-based sites can have on real-world business.


How long can a mechanic keep my car?

There is no legal limit to how long a mechanic can keep your car. If you are unsatisfied with your service, you can always take your business elsewhere and try to find another mechanic.
However, if there's a serious defect with your vehicle and the mechanic needs to hold the vehicle for a certain number of days to make the repairs, your warranty may entitle you to a refund or replacement vehicle per your state's lemon law.

Can I sue a mechanic for taking too long?

It's possible to sue a mechanic if you have given them a down payment and they haven't fixed your vehicle for a long time. This is especially true if you can prove their negligence made your car worse. However, keep in mind that you might not have a case if the repairs did need to take a long time for a good reason.

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