How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car for Repair?

If you’ve ever taken your car to a dealership for repair, you might have found yourself wondering how long they can hold onto your vehicle. After all, you need your car to get around, and you don’t want to be without it for any longer than necessary. So, just how long can a dealership hold your car for repair?

Understanding the Law

First things first, it’s essential to understand the law. There are no federal laws that regulate how long a dealership can keep your car for repair. However, many states have laws that require dealerships to return your car to you within a reasonable amount of time.

What Is Considered a “Reasonable” Amount of Time?

What is considered a “reasonable” amount of time can vary from state to state, and it can depend on a few factors, such as:

  • The complexity of the repair
  • The availability of parts
  • The workload of the dealership
  • The communication between the dealership and the customer

In some states, a “reasonable” amount of time might be as short as three days, while in other states, it might be as long as 30 days. However, even in states without specific laws on the matter, most dealerships aim to complete repairs within a few days to a week.

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Negotiating with the Dealership

If the dealership is taking longer than you think is reasonable to repair your car, you may be able to negotiate with them. Start by communicating your concerns with the service manager or another representative at the dealership. Be specific about the length of time you’ve been without your car and why it’s causing you inconvenience.

In some cases, the dealership may be able to provide you with a loaner vehicle to use while they work on your car. Alternatively, they may be able to expedite the repair process by prioritizing your car or bringing in additional technicians to work on it.

If you’ve tried negotiating with the dealership, and they still won’t return your car to you in a reasonable amount of time, you may have legal options. In many states, you can file a complaint with the state’s attorney general or consumer protection agency.

In some cases, you may also be able to file a lawsuit against the dealership. However, this should only be considered as a last resort, as it can be time-consuming and expensive.


In conclusion, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long a dealership can hold your car for repair. It can depend on where you live, the complexity of the repair, and other factors. However, most dealerships aim to complete repairs within a few days to a week, and you can negotiate with them if the repair is taking longer than you think is reasonable.

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Remember to stay calm and communicate clearly with the dealership. And if all else fails, you may have legal options to pursue. By understanding your rights and options, you can make sure that you get your car back in a reasonable amount of time and that you’re not left without a means of transportation for longer than necessary.