Car repair

What to Do If You Can’t Afford a Car Repair Bill

Dealing with car repairs can be frustrating and stressful and you might find that you can’t even afford to pay the full cost of that repair bill.

According to the results of a recent AAA Survey, one quarter of American drivers neglected car repairs because of the economy and could not realistically afford to pay $2,000 to pay their repair bill. One in eight Americans wouldn’t be able to afford a car repair bill of $1,000.

While most people don’t budget for car repairs, it’s still a good idea to set up an emergency savings account that would cover the costs of car-related problems in the near future.

But what do you do when you need your car fixed but have no money or don’t have enough in a savings account to cover you when the car breaks down?

Here are some options for repairing your car when you can’t actually afford it:

  1. Negotiate with the mechanic.

    Talk to the repair shop about any discounts that might be available, or any payment plans that for which you could apply. Some repair shops also accept credit cards and might be able to set you up on an affordable monthly payment plan instead of expecting a lump sum payment. Do your best to negotiate with the mechanic to create a win-win situation for both parties.

  2. Shop around.

    Unless your car was towed to a repair shop immediately and you had to authorize to get the work done right away, you have some time to shop around for the best rates. Some mechanics will charge by the hour while others will give you an estimate of the work based on the extent of repairs that need to be done. Take some time to request quotes from at least three to four different places and let them know that you’re shopping around. You can make a better decision when you have several options available to you.

  3. Barter with someone who’s handy.

    If you couldn’t work out a deal with a car repair shop or find any affordable professional mechanics, maybe you can find someone in your neighborhood who is mechanically inclined and handy with cars. That person may even be a family member or friend. But don’t just ask them to spend a few hours fixing your car for free. Offer instead to provide them with something of value in return for their labor. It should be something you own or a much-needed service you could provide them. In essence, you bartering to get your car fixed.

  4. Get a personal loan from a family member or friend.

    If you have a good relationship with a close family member or friend, consider approaching them for a personal loan and set up a realistic payment plan. This can be a tricky and even uncomfortable situation for many, so make sure you create a doable payoff plan that doesn’t end up hurting the relationship.

  5. Use a credit card.

    If you have available credit, use a low-interest credit card and charge the repair bill right on the card. Just make sure you can keep making payments towards that card so you don’t end up paying much more in interest charges for that single bill over time.

  6. Sell personal items for quick cash.

    If you need some money quickly, list some items for sale on eBay or Craigslist, or have a garage sale over the weekend to raise money. Selling stuff you don’t want, need or use is one of the simplest ways to generate money fast and pay those outstanding bills before they overwhelm you. Think of all household, electronic or clothing items you really can do without for now so that paying this repair bill becomes a priority.

If all else fails and you can’t pay or barter to get your car fixed, consider taking public transportation or carpooling temporarily until you can save up the necessary money to repair your vehicle.

Taking the bus or train, or catching a ride to work with someone else isn’t necessarily an optimal solution. But it may be your best bet if you’re in a real cash crunch and have no other ways to pay a mechanic or car repair shop.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How can I find auto repair shops that offer payment plans in my area?

A1. You can start by searching online for “auto repair shops with payment plans near me.” This should give you a list of shops in your area that offer financing options.

Q2. Do all auto repair shops offer payment plans?

A2. No, not all auto repair shops offer payment plans. However, many do, so it’s worth asking if they have any financing options available.

Q3. Can I apply for a payment plan before getting my car repaired?

A3. It depends on the auto repair shop. Some shops may require you to have an estimate or know the exact cost of the repairs before you can apply for a payment plan.

Q4. Are there any requirements to qualify for a payment plan at an auto repair shop?

A4. It varies by shop, but some may require a credit check or proof of income to determine your eligibility for a payment plan.

Q5. What should I consider when choosing an auto repair shop with a payment plan?

A5. You should consider the interest rate and terms of the payment plan, as well as the reputation and experience of the auto repair shop. Additionally, you may want to compare prices and services offered by different shops to find the best option for you.

Q6. Where can I find auto repair shops that offer payment plans near me?

A6. You can start by searching online for auto repair shops in your area and checking their websites to see if they offer payment plans. Another option is to call or visit the shops in person to inquire about their payment options. You may also want to consider using online directories or review websites that allow you to filter and search for auto repair shops based on their payment options and customer reviews.

Q7. Where can I find mechanics with payment plans near me?

A7. To find independent mechanics that offer payment plans, search user groups and marketplaces on Facebook and Instagram. Many independent mechanics offer their services on those social networks.


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