Auto Body Blog

Can a Mechanic Keep Your Car if it's Unsafe?

Imagine pulling into a mechanic shop because of a strange sound coming from somewhere under your car’s hood. After half an hour of waiting, the mechanic comes back and breaks the bad news: not only is your vehicle unsafe to drive, they can’t let you leave their lot with your car without performing a very expensive fix.

Has this ever happened to you? Our automobiles are such a vital part of our lives that suddenly losing access to them because of a single mechanic’s opinion immediately raises a red flag. Even if you are knowledgeable about your car and think you could fix the issue yourself, the mechanic probably won’t let you use their garage.

Is a Mechanic Required By Law In Utah to Hold Unrepaired Vehicles?

Technically, no. There is no law on Utah’s books that states a mechanic is legally required to hold an unsafe vehicle from leaving their lot. Police are unlikely to intervene due to the dispute being considered a “civil case”. Considering you don’t have the weeks required to sue the mechanic to release your vehicle, this probably isn’t a good option.

Mechanics do have the right to withhold a vehicle from the owner who refuses to pay after a mechanic has performed work according to a signed agreement (this is known as a mechanic’s lien). If no agreement was made, you can technically leave with your vehicle.

The Burden of Responsibility

However, the mechanic will insist you sign a waiver stating that they are in no way responsible for anything that may happen due to the decision to drive away with a car in poor condition. In this case, they do have a legal basis for protecting themselves from any litigation that could occur.

Say your mechanic discovers that the braking system of your vehicle is in such bad shape that they tell you in no uncertain terms that choosing to drive it would put you and others in danger. Despite the warning, they let you drive away. Without proof that they explained the risks of driving with faulty breaks, they would be liable for any damage, injury, or death that may happen.

Work With a Trustworthy and Reliable Mechanic

When you work with a mechanic worth their salt, they will give you options beyond a stubborn refusal. If you want to take your vehicle to another mechanic for a second opinion, hiring a tow truck is the safest (and possibly only) option. Check with your car insurance, as they might have a way to save you money.

Additionally, your mechanic might have a deal with a local car rental company for just such occasions. This way, you won’t be completely stranded while you figure out what you would like to do with your vehicle. Again, check your car insurance for any assistance they can provide on rental costs.

When this kind of thing happens, a good mechanic will know how to deescalate high emotions, give clear explanations, and provide support. If you encounter a mechanic that demands thousands of dollars worth of repairs must be done with them, be sure to avoid them in the future!

Choose Schneider Auto Karosserie Body and Paint in Salt Lake City, Utah, for High-Class Collision Repair

If your vehicle ends up in a collision, you can trust your team of professional mechanics and auto body repairmen at Schneider Auto. Located off of 1300 S in Salt Lake City, we’re right in the middle of your downtown neighborhood. Give us a call today at (801) 484-9400. We can get you back on the road in no time.