How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car for Repair?

When you take your car to the dealership for warranty repairs, you expect to receive it back in roughly a day or two depending on the issue, but there are times when that doesn’t happen. As such, how long can a dealership hold your car for repair before you have rights under California Lemon Law?

With the vehicle under warranty, the dealership has thirty days to repair it and return it to you. These thirty days don’t need to be consecutive. It’s the total number of days it takes to work out a single complaint with unsuccessful repair attempts.

Our experienced California Lemon Law attorneys at The Lemon Pros have helped over 5000 consumers resolve their lemon law claims. We can help you determine whether your car is a lemon and help you get the compensation you deserve if there is a hold up at the dealership. Contact us today for a lemon law car consultation! And no need to worry about our California lemon law attorney fees, as you pay nothing unless we get you your compensation.

The blog serves as an informational guide about your rights with dealership repair attempts. We cover the qualifications to file for your lemon vehicle and explain the steps to getting compensated if the dealership takes too long.

How Long Until My Car Qualifies as a Lemon Vehicle?

How Long Until My Car Qualifies as a Lemon Vehicle?

First, it’s essential to understand the distinction between warranty repair and out-of-warranty services. The manufacturer’s warranty covers defects and failures for a specified time. You aren’t required to pay out of pocket for these repairs.

A new vehicle should have warranty terms lasting several years. Vehicle owners may also be eligible for a rental car for the repair duration.

An extended warranty through a third-party company for a new or used vehicle isn’t going to be the responsibility of the car dealer. Out-of-warranty services aren’t the manufacturer’s responsibility. Therefore, any repairs made must be paid for or you would use your third-party warranty coverage for the replacement parts and labor.

On average, it’s not abnormal for a repair shop to take ten to twenty days whether the car insurance or vehicle warranty is covering the bill. Factors extending how long the dealership holds vehicles could include:

  • Lack of supplies/parts
  • Inability to diagnose or repair the fault
  • Difficulty with the workforce – not having enough employees to keep up with repairs

How long can a dealership hold your car for repair before it’s covered under lemon laws?

Your vehicle becomes a lemon if it has been in for warranty repair for over thirty days per incident. It may also qualify if it’s been in for repair on the same item two or more times (no matter how long the repairs took).

Does CA lemon law apply to used cars? In some cases, it does. California’s used car lemon law protects any buyer who has purchased a used car with a warranty if it is defective or unable to be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

The Dealership Has 30 Days To Repair Your Car

The Dealership Has 30 Days To Repair Your Car

In California, the consumer is protected by laws and regulations when it involves car repairs. First, a written estimate showing the total cost of parts and labor should always be provided. You must sign the estimate and authorize the dealership to provide the repairs.

Additionally, a warranty disclosure should indicate what automotive parts and labor were covered through the warranty.

There’s also the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1975. It further protects the consumer from deceptive repair practices surrounding the vehicle’s warranty and ensures that coverage is provided where it’s promised.

It’s important to note that sometimes dealership policies vary from statutory requirements. The dealership may have its own policies and procedures regarding warranty repair timelines. These times are often affected by scheduling constraints, the availability of parts, and the current workload.

However, when the two don’t line up, the statutory requirements always take precedence. Dealerships must comply with all related laws and policies, even if it means violating internal rules.

To minimize the risk of being without your car longer than you should, it’s important to understand the laws and policies. Get everything in writing from the dealer so you have a record of communication in case you need to file a lemon law claim.

Can a dealership take a car back after a month in California? In California, the dealership can buy back the car within 18 months or 18,000 miles (whichever comes first) if the vehicle is deemed a lemon. However, this rarely occurs without the help of an expert California lemon law lawyer.

What To Do If The Dealership Has Been Holding Your Car For An Extended Period?

What To Do If The Dealership Has Been Holding Your Car For An Extended Period?

If your vehicle has been at the dealership for more than thirty days for the same repair process, then it may qualify as a lemon car. Even the time it is sitting at the dealership waiting counts towards this time.

How long does a California Lemon Law case take? If you need to file a claim, starting the lemon law process as soon as possible is best. Finalizing everything can take some time, especially if a trial is required.

What happens if you win a lemon law case in California? Lemon law car compensation varies depending on the type of vehicle, how long you’ve owned it, and what’s wrong with it. The manufacturer can choose to repurchase the vehicle or replace it. They may also be responsible for any reimbursement of costs and attorney fees.

Can you sell a lemon car in California? Absolutely not! It’s illegal to sell a car in California if you know it’s a lemon. If you can’t get the vehicle repaired, then nobody should be driving it. Instead of trying to dump the problem on someone else, seeking help from a lemon law professional is the best option.

Should I Contact A California Lemon Law Lawyer?

When Should a California Lemon Law Lawyer Get Involved? As soon as your vehicle meets the above criteria, either spending more than 30 days to fix an issue through the original warranty or making multiple trips for the same problem. You don’t want to waste any time getting the compensation you deserve.

3 Factors Influencing Car Repair Timelines: Should You Be Concerned?

3 Factors Influencing Car Repair Timelines: Should You Be Concerned?

Which repairs will take a long time? As you look to have the car fixed, there are three factors dictating how long the repair may take. These include the parts and availability, workshop capacity, and the nature of repairs.

Parts and Availability

In recent years, it’s been more difficult for dealerships to get the parts needed for warranty repairs. Chip shortages and pandemic lockdowns significantly impacted the flow of consumer goods.

Reputable dealerships have learned to foresee the scarcity and work around the issues by ordering parts ahead of time or strategically scheduling appointments for when parts will be available.

If there is a shortage of parts, the dealership should be upfront with you, letting you know that ahead of time. You shouldn’t need to wait thirty days before you find out what’s happening.

Workshop Capacity

Dealerships are often busy, creating a waiting game for customers. The time it takes before your car goes in for repairs depends heavily on the shop’s capacity. If other models struggle with the same defect, such as with a massive recall, wait times can become exceedingly long.

The location of the dealership and its size also play a part in the capacity. The more service bays and staff there are, the more able they are to deal with a continuous workflow.

Nature of Repairs

Urgency always plays a part in when a vehicle will be fixed. Urgent repairs, such as critical mechanical failures and safety-related fixes, are always scheduled before maintenance or minor inconveniences.

For example, let’s use a hypothetical dealership named Lemony Motors. During one morning, here is a list of three calls the service department may receive.

Customer A: This customer calls and complains about the brakes making a grinding noise and creating a spongy feeling. There’s a concern about safety.

Customer B: This customer needs to schedule a routine oil change and tire rotation.

Customer C: With this call, the customer states that the Check Engine Light has been on for a couple of days, although there’s no change to the vehicle’s performance.

Who would be dealt with first? Here is how most dealerships will prioritize these calls:

Customer A is first because the brake issue is a serious safety concern.

Customer C is next because a Check Engine Light may indicate serious problems that could lead to motor damage or performance issues.

Customer B goes last because routine maintenance is never considered urgent.

While this is how used and new vehicles should be dealt with, some dealers have their own way of prioritizing. When you call to schedule, you can ask how priorities are determined.

Consumer Rights and Recourses

Consumer Rights and Recourses

If the dealership still has your vehicle after thirty days, it’s time to take action. Here are some rights of consumers:

  1. Contact the dealership first. Inquire about the status of repairs and express your concern about how long it is taking. There may be an explanation or your vehicle was simply overlooked.
  2. Review the terms of your warranty: Read through the warranty to ensure your claim is covered. Check with the service contract and verify that the repair was to be performed as part of the warranty.
  3. Document everything: Pull together all the communication records between you and the dealership. You need dates, times, and the names of employees you’ve spoken with. Ask for a copy of the written agreement for service.
  4. Contact the manufacturer: If the communication with the dealership isn’t getting you anywhere, it’s time to reach out to the manufacturer. They may be able to intervene in the case.
  5. Contact a lemon lawyer: When all else fails, it’s time to seek legal action. File a lemon law claim with a legal professional as soon as possible.

Proactive Measures to Minimize Car Repair Delays

Proactive Measures to Minimize Car Repair Delays

To expedite the repair process, there are some proactive measures worth taking.

  • Keep up with regular car maintenance to alleviate emergency situations. Regular maintenance prevents unexpected breakdowns and reduces the chances of a critical repair.
  • Carefully choose a dealership with a good reputation. You may have to drive a little further, but the extra time will be worth it when you get your car back sooner and the repairs are done right.
  • Communicate clearly. Provide detailed information about the problem the car is experiencing. Show photos or videos if you can. Also, ask for detailed information about the repairs and document everything you are told. Don’t forget to ask what the expected duration is for the mechanic to determine what’s wrong.
  • Make sure you follow up. Don’t wait thirty days to talk with the dealership again. Follow up in a reasonable time to ensure that repairs are on track and there are no unforeseen hiccups. If it seems like the fix is taking longer than it should, reach out to management.

Many consumers can prevent potential problems by being proactive. Don’t wait until your car or truck has already been in the shop for more than a month to take action.

Has The Car Dealership Held Your Car For Too Long? Follow These Next Steps!

As a consumer, you have a lot of rights. Sadly, most people don’t know about these rights until they have been violated. When dealing with a warranty repair, the dealership should never have your car for more than 30 days. If they do, it’s time to take action.

Don’t wait another 30 days to get answers. Get your free lemon law consultation today. As experienced California Lemon Lawyers, we have a proven track record of getting compensation for our clients.

Remember, there’s a delicate balance between being patient and too assertive when dealing with car repairs. While you don’t want to ride the dealership and call every day, staying involved and informed helps you avoid problems in the future. Your California lemon law lawyer is available to answer any questions you may have.

Call us today for a free consultation before time runs out to pursue your claim.

Phone: (800) 917-7147


Why Choose The Lemon Pros?

Our specialty is Lemon Law, that is why we only handle Lemon Law claims. When you hire us, our attorneys will do all the legal work for you, because we understand the stress that consumers like you deal with when they have a Lemon.

We have an excellent success record in representing consumers just like you! We are award winning attorneys, but that has not gotten to our heads. We are attorneys who care and give personalized attention to each and every client, our attorneys directly handle your claim.

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