Can A Mechanic Sell My Car If I Don't Pay?

Mechanics and Auto Professionals

Apr 28th, 2021

Can A Mechanic Sell My Car If I Don't Pay?

Life happens, and we sometimes get hard-pressed for cash. If this is where you're at the moment, and you find yourself owing your mechanic a few bucks, then a couple of questions must have come up in your mind. 

Can a mechanic seize your car if you're yet to pay? Can he sell your vehicle if you do not pay in full? 

The short answer is, "Yes, he absolutely can." Read the remainder of the article to get the full gist.

Can My Mechanic Refuse to Release My Car? Can He Sell It?  

If you haven't paid your mechanic for his repair services, then he's well within his rights to refuse releasing your car. He is backed by law to keep your vehicle as collateral until you pay up or you both come to an agreement. 

Now, if you have a good rapport with your mechanic, it’s less likely that you’ll go through such extents due to your inability to pay. In most cases, your longstanding relationship will be enough reason for them to trust and extend grace to you. 

That said, take note that certain conditions must be met for a mechanic to hold on to your vehicle lawfully, emphasis on “lawfully.” For starters, your mechanic will have to obtain a lien. 

What Is a Mechanic’s Lien?

A mechanic’s lien is the legal guarantee of payment to contractors, builders, and construction firms that build or repair properties. It’s worth stating that the term “Mechanic lien” is more commonly used in association with real estate property. When the property in focus is an automobile and therefore involves a car technician, it is called an artisan’s or repairer’s lien.

Automobile mechanics typically file for lien when they are yet to receive payments for fixing a vehicle. Keep in mind that liens are usually not obtained with evil intent; it is simply the last resort for a mechanic who wants to get paid for a job done. 

But what happens when you encounter a dishonest mechanic who slaps a massive fee on you without your knowledge? Or one who claims that you both agreed on a price when you didn’t? Well, the law doesn’t leave you unprotected as certain conditions have to be satisfied before the mechanic can obtain or file for a lien.

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining a Lien?

Here are the basic requirements or conditions for obtaining a repairer’s lien:

  • The car owner must’ve been presented with a statement of charges for repairs made.
  • You must authorise the repairs and improvements made in your vehicle. That is, if you didn’t give the go-ahead for a repair that the mechanic may have made, you are not liable to pay for it. 
  • You and the mechanic must agree on the price of the repairs and stipulate this in a signed document. An overcharge invalidates the lien.

The point is that you do not have much to worry about anyone stealing away your vehicle.

Suppose the mechanic refuses to let the owner take back his vehicle despite not meeting the above conditions; he can be charged of conversion or embezzlement. In such a scenario, the vehicle owner can get compensated in the form of storage fees from the mechanic for wrongful seizure. 

How Long Can the Mechanic Keep Your Car?

The repairer’s lien empowers the mechanic to keep the car for as long as it takes you to clear your debt. This is an intrinsic characteristic of possessory lien, under which the repairer’s lien is a type. 

While the mechanic holds on to the car, you may incur extra charges in the form of storage fees because the vehicle takes up extra space in his garage. 

Can a Mechanic Sell Your Vehicle?

Like I said early on, yes, he can. Suppose the car has been in the mechanic's garage for a reasonable period, he can sell your vehicle after 28 days from the date he sends you the Goods Disposal Notice. "Reasonable period" differs from mechanic to mechanic, and your relationship with the repairer has a significant role to play here. If the mechanic isn't able to contact you, he's mandated to keep the car for at least 90 to 180 days, depending on its value.

If the owner does not claim the vehicle within the stipulated time, the car is then valued by the mechanic in good faith and sold off at a public auction. The expenses incurred and the money owed is subtracted from the amount for which the car was sold. The amount left and the sales records are sent to the old owner or kept for at least six years before it is handed over to the state for safekeeping.

The Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce (VACC) sheds more light on goods disposal and the necessary steps to take before goods can be sold. Also, you can email TACC (Tasmanian Automotive Chamber of Commerce) for answers to your unanswered questions.

Conclusion

A mechanic needs to obtain a lien before he can lawfully sell your car. Fortunately for you, getting a lien and filing for goods disposal is a painstaking process. Plus, it can attract a fine if done wrongly. As a result, it is a last resort for most mechanics. 

To prevent a situation where a lien is placed on your car, we advise that you stay in touch with the mechanic and provide current and correct contact details when asked. Seek to reach an agreement sooner, or pay up faster so that you don’t get to lose a car you worked hard to get. And, oh, this ought to be a reminder that good relationships are a currency of their own. So it’s worth establishing a friendly rapport and mutual respect with your mechanic or auto repairman. 

You will find tons of informational articles like this one in our blog. They may be the answer to some questions that have been bothering you all this while, so do well to go through them. In addition to that, our site features a free Auto Parts Finder tool where you get to request a car part from a seller and have it delivered to you. This tool makes it super easy to purchase replacement parts. With a network of over 500 sellers connected via our platform, there’s almost no car part you won’t find here using this tool. Cool, right? Well then, fill up our request form now to start getting quotes.


By Damilare Olasinde