How Long Can Dealerships Keep Your Car Hostage for Warranty Repairs?

Having your car stuck at a dealership for warranty repairs can be a major hassle. You might feel stuck and unsure when you’ll get your vehicle back, which can disrupt your daily routine and plans. 

mechanic writing on clipboard while repairing car engine

Let’s explore the ins and outs of warranty repairs, including how long dealerships can legally hold your car, what could cause delays, and your rights if things take too long. 

What Are Warranty Repairs?

Warranty repairs are fixes that a dealership performs on your car under the terms of your vehicle’s warranty. When something goes wrong with your car, which is covered by the warranty, the dealership is responsible for making the repairs at no extra charge. This coverage can include various issues, from engine problems to electrical malfunctions.

Common types of warranty repairs often involve:

  • Repairing or replacing parts like pistons, fuel injectors, or gaskets.
  • Fixing issues within the transmission system that prevent the car from shifting smoothly.
  • Addressing failures in the car’s electrical components such as sensors, wiring, or the battery.
  • Ensuring that the climate control systems are functioning correctly.

What is The Legal Timeline for Warranty Repairs?

The amount of time a dealership can legally hold your car for warranty repairs varies, but consumer rights under the California Lemon Law provide some guidelines. This law covers you if your vehicle spends unreasonable time in the shop due to warranty repairs. It is crucial to understand the average lemon law settlement to know what compensation you might expect.

Two person standing near the table looking at laptop in the office

Minor repairs, such as replacing sensors or fixing minor electrical issues, typically take a few days. While more significant repairs, like engine or transmission work, can take up to a week or more, depending on the complexity.

Factors that can extend repair periods include:

The complexity of repairs

Some car issues are more complicated than others. For instance, diagnosing a problem within the engine or electronic systems can be time-consuming, as careful analysis is required to pinpoint the exact issue.

Parts availability

Occasionally, the necessary parts for your car repair might not be in stock. If the parts are rare or need to be shipped from a different location, this can significantly extend the time your car spends in the shop. For more detailed examples you can check Ford transmission problems which highlights similar issues.

Your dealership workload

The number of vehicles awaiting service can also impact the length of your repair. If there are many cars ahead of yours, even simple repairs might face delays.

These factors can influence how long your car stays at the dealership. This is why it’s important to communicate with the service department to get a realistic timeframe for your car’s repairs.

Contact Lemon Law Assist to Understand Your Rights and Recourses

If you feel that a dealership is holding your car for an unreasonable amount of time for warranty repairs, you have certain legal rights and steps you can take. Knowing these can empower you to resolve the situation more effectively.

lawyer makes phone call

Under the California Lemon Law, if your car spends excessive time in the shop for warranty-covered repairs, it might qualify as a “lemon.” In such cases, you could be entitled to a replacement or a refund.

But first, you need to take the following steps:

  • Discuss your concerns with the service manager. Ask for updates and an estimated timeline for the repairs.
  • Keep all records of communications and repair orders. This documentation can be crucial if you need to escalate your case.
  • If progress stalls, inform the dealership that you expect the repairs to be completed by a specific date.

If the dealership continues to exceed reasonable repair timelines, it may be time to consult with an attorney in San Diego at Lemon Law Assist, the number one leading lemon law firm in California. Don’t wait—contact us now to get started!

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do if my car is taking too long to repair?

Start by discussing your concerns with the dealership’s service manager. If the delay seems unreasonable, keep detailed records and consider consulting a Lemon Law attorney.

How long is too long for a car to be in the shop?

This depends on the type of repair and availability of parts. Generally, repairs taking longer than 30 days might be considered excessive, depending on the circumstances.

What is the 30-day lemon law in California?

California’s Lemon Law includes a provision that if your new vehicle spends more than 30 cumulative days in the shop for warranty repairs within the warranty period, it may qualify as a lemon.

What is the lemon law in California?

The California Lemon Law protects consumers whose new vehicles have substantial defects that cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts within the warranty period. It allows for a refund or replacement.

How long should a car take to get fixed?

The repair time can vary based on the complexity of the issue and the availability of parts. Simple repairs might take a few days, whereas more complex issues could take weeks.

What is the hardest thing to repair in a car?

Complex electrical systems and hybrid vehicle components, such as engine replacement, are often considered the hardest to repair due to their technical complexity and the need for specialized equipment.

How long is it reasonable to keep a car?

This varies widely among owners. Some may keep their vehicle for a few years, while others might keep it until it no longer operates efficiently.

Why do mechanics take so long?

Delays can occur due to complex diagnostics, waiting on parts shipments, or a backlog of other vehicles needing service.

How long can a dealership hold your car for repairs in California?

There’s no set time, but if a car is held excessively—typically over 30 days—it may trigger provisions under the Lemon Law.

What is the warranty law on cars in California?

California requires that new cars come with a manufacturer’s warranty that covers most repairs for at least three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

What is Barney’s Lemon Law?

This is a fictional rule from the TV show “How I Met Your Mother,” implying that one can end a relationship within a short period if it’s not working out. It has no legal basis.

Can I return a car I just bought in California?

Yes, you can. However, If you choose to return the used car, you need to bring it back to the dealership within two business days by closing time unless your contract allows for a longer period. When returning the car, make sure it does not have more miles than permitted by the contract, which should allow for up to 250 miles.



We are committed to thoroughly reviewing your case and providing expert advice regarding your legal options. Contact us now at 424-403-2820 for a free consultation

Attorney Sam Mollaei

These lawsuits claim that Nissan refused to admit the CVT transmission was defective. Instead, they tried to disguise the defects with inadequate repairs. Although some lawsuits have been settled, Nissan continues to install these faulty CVTs in newer models.

Nissan offers warranties that may cover CVT transmission problems. Knowing what is covered and how to file a claim is essential. This guide will help you navigate the warranty process and explain what to do if your claim is denied.

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