How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car for Repair? Understanding Your Rights as a Car Owner

How Long Can A Dealership Hold Your Car For Repair


When you entrust your vehicle to a dealership for repairs, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of how long they can hold your car. This knowledge empowers you as a car owner and ensures that you uphold your rights while managing your expectations. In this article, we will delve into the topic, shedding light on the various factors that influence repair timelines, your legal rights as a consumer, and steps to take if your car is held for an extended period.

Understanding Your Rights as a Car Owner

As a car owner, it’s crucial to know your legal rights when it comes to dealership repairs. Consumer protection laws vary by jurisdiction, but they generally outline the repair obligations of dealerships. Your rights may encompass factors such as warranty coverage, the duty to repair defects, and reasonable repair timeframes. Familiarize yourself with these rights to ensure you can advocate for yourself effectively.

Factors Influencing Repair Timelines

  1. Complexity of the Repair:

    • Delicate repairs that involve intricate systems or specialized components may naturally require more time.
    • Complex mechanical issues may necessitate thorough diagnostics, leading to extended repair durations.
  2. Availability of Necessary Parts:

    • If the dealership needs to source specific parts for your car, availability can significantly impact repair timelines.
    • Rare or back-ordered parts may need to be sourced from external suppliers, causing delays.
  3. Workload and Scheduling at the Dealership:

    • Seasonal demand, unexpected influxes of repairs, or limited staff can affect the dealership’s ability to complete repairs promptly.
    • Prioritizing urgent repairs may result in delays for non-urgent cases.
  4. Communication and Coordination with the Customer:

    • Effective communication between the dealership and the customer plays a crucial role in minimizing repair delays.
    • Timely updates, clear expectations, and efficient coordination ensure a smooth repair process.

Average Repair Timelines at Dealerships

When it comes to repair durations, there are general industry standards to consider. While these can vary, depending on the complexity of the repair and other factors, it’s helpful to have a ballpark estimate. On average, minor repairs may take a few hours to a day, while more extensive repairs may stretch into several days or even weeks. However, it’s important to remember that every repair case is unique, and timelines can be influenced by various factors.

Extended Repair Durations and Consumer Recourse

  1. When Repairs Exceed Reasonable Timeframes:

    • If your car remains in the dealership’s possession for an unreasonably long period, it’s essential to assess the situation.
    • Review your local consumer laws to determine what constitutes an extended repair duration.
  2. Steps to Take If Your Car Is Held for an Extended Period:

    • Maintain open lines of communication with the dealership, requesting regular updates on the progress of your repair.
    • Document each interaction, including dates, names of the individuals you speak with, and any promises made regarding repair timelines.
  3. Escalating the Issue with the Dealership and Manufacturer:

    • If your car remains in the dealership’s possession for an unjustifiably long time, consider escalating the issue.
    • Contact the dealership’s management or customer service department to express your concerns and seek resolution.
    • If necessary, reach out to the vehicle manufacturer’s customer support, highlighting the prolonged delays and requesting intervention.


In conclusion, understanding how long a dealership can hold your car for repair is vital for car owners. By familiarizing yourself with your legal rights, factors influencing repair timelines, and steps to take in case of extended delays, you can navigate the repair process with confidence. Remember to maintain open lines of communication, document your interactions, and escalate the issue when necessary. By advocating for yourself, you can ensure a timely and satisfactory resolution to your car repair needs.