How to Pay for Car Repairs with No Money: Know Your Options

Michael Lefler
by Michael Lefler
Updated: August 12, 2020

The lack of money can put a lot of people in strain for many of life’s necessities. For example, if you have a car and you use it every day to go to work, your vehicle is a necessity. But your car can break down from now and then, and you might not have the money to fix it. What do you do? You need this car to go to work, and you cannot just leave it broken.

During a recent survey by AAA, around 25% of American drivers neglected to repair their car because of bad economic conditions. They really could not afford to pay $2,000 to get their car fixed, and as a matter, one in eight Americans cannot even pay $1,000.

It is the reason why having a savings account for such cases is a must and can help a lot in the long term.

But what do you do when you don’t have the cash on hand to fix your car? How to pay for car repairs with no money?

If your car needs either minor or extensive repairs and you’re low on funds, do not lose hope. The following options may help you find a viable solution to getting the cash you need for auto repairs.

Apply for a Personal Loan

One of the ways that people come up to be able to afford their auto repair is through personal loans. Provided you have a clean credit record, you can apply for a personal loan as a quick way to get cash. It’s advisable that you speak to a loan consultant about rates and how much money you qualify for. Although you may be eligible to take out a loan that exceeds the amount to repair your vehicle, you should only apply for the cash you need to avoid unnecessary debt.

One of the advantages of personal loans is that they are a way to consolidate existing debt. Personal loans are also easy to apply, as easy as a payday loan online application. If you are looking for a quick way to get the cash you need, the personal loans will make it possible. They are also perfect to finance urgent expenses such as car repairs.

Except for the real benefits of getting a personal loan, you should consider that in case if you’re going to apply for the loan, you need a clean credit record to be approved. Even if you have a good credit score, the required amount could be refused. Also, consider that the interest rates are much higher on personal loans.

If a personal loan is not an option for you, you can try other alternatives, such as online payday loans for bad credit or auto lenders. They’re a much better option for those who have bad credit or no credit score at all.

Auto Lenders (Auto Repair Loans)

You can easily become overwhelmed when you’re struggling financially, and your car breaks down. However, there are some available options for auto repair financing.

Some companies specialize in providing auto repair loans intended for vehicle repairs. Once your auto lender approves your loan request, you’ll get the necessary funds to cover your car repair costs according to the terms agreed with your lender. Make sure to check the payment terms before signing an agreement (subject to state restrictions).

One of the auto loan benefits is that you can get approved even if you have a bad credit score. The lenders don’t perform hard credit checks, which means your current credit score won’t be affected. More than that, you could build your credit rating, making on-time payments, ultimately improving your credit score.

Nevertheless, auto loans have some downsides, too. In case you don’t make payments on the agreed due dates, your car can get repossessed.

Borrowers are usually able to opt for 24- to 72-month loans. The major difference between them is the interest and payments amount.

Get a Personal Loan from a Family Member or Friend

One of the best options that you probably have to find some money for car repair financing (if you don’t like car repair loans) is to ask for help. That’s right. There is no shame and nothing wrong with asking for help. And I don’t mean the kind of support where you end up to be a handout. I mean that kind of support where you get to pay it back to the person that is helping you.

You can try and get a loan from a family member or a friend. You can simply approach them with a smart payment plan that can convince them to give you a personal loan. It can be tricky and might look like a shameful move sometimes, but you don’t have to worry until you have a solid plan that makes sure your relationship is not stained.

Auto Insurance Providers

Even though people might not think this a lot, insurance companies are one of the best options for saving money when it comes to car repairing. Before you can say ‘I can’t afford my car repairs’, see if maybe you can afford cheaper payments like auto insurance. After all, it would be much more beneficial if you would pay a smaller amount now and then and have your car fixed in a case of accidents, then to pay for an expensive auto repair yourself.

You must ensure costly assets in case of unforeseen circumstances such as car accidents, theft, or auto break downs. Insurance companies cover the costs of car damage, which could help you when you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for the repairs of your vehicle.

It’s advisable that you select an insurance company that is customized to your needs to avoid stress and unnecessary expenditure.

There are some advantages to making a deal with insurance providers, such as having your insurance cover the damage with small installments. You can even get your car replaced in case of theft. But the downsides are that insurance holders may have to pay deductibles before claims can be made. You should also consider that insurance costs are more than liability coverage, and premiums can increase after claims.

However, members of AAA might find a trustworthy provider who offers roadside help. Having a provider offer emergency road services is crucial in the case of an accident.

Credit Card Coverage

Using your credit card to pay for repairs is quick and easy. Make sure you only use your credit card for emergencies. Credit cards can help you with all sorts of expenses that need immediate expenditure, such as healthcare, a replacement for lost or broken items, and of course, auto repairs. You are welcome to use your credit card to repair such minor damages as windshield scratches, cracks, and dents; broken windows; busted headlights; paintwork; fused lights on the rear and front of your car.

The most notable advantages of credit card usage include an opportunity to pay instantly. It doesn’t matter what sum you’re going to pay – large amounts of money can be paid at a time as well. But before using your credit card as a payment method, consider that your installments increase after every payment, and payback time can be extended.

Nevertheless, credit cards can come in handy when you need it. But please remember that credit cards should be used only for emergencies in order to avoid overspending.

Warning: How to Avoid Predatory Lending Practices (scams, very high cost, reasonable APR)

You might be feeling desperate right now, and your credit score might be horrible. Just because this is the case, don’t lose your composure. You might be considering a title loan to have some car repair credit, which you can use to fix your car. But you must be very careful in your decision making. There are a lot of companies out there that use predatory practices while offering title loans. What does predatory means? It means financial products with a high cost that target people like you who don’t have many options.

Title loans can be unregulated, and they can have sky-high interests that might just shock you. You will find title loans with a normal APR of 300-500% and, in some cases, even 1000%. How do you avoid trouble if this is the only option you have left?

Make sure you stick to a short payment term to lower your interest rate and also get out of the deal as soon as possible. Another thing you should be asking is affordable monthly payments. Don’t give your bank account as your primary payment method. And never accept an APR higher than 40%.

Negotiate with the Mechanic

One of the best options that you might have is to talk to your mechanic about financing. For larger payments, most of the mechanics will give you the financing option. They help you to pay the whole sum month after month instead of all at once. See what is possible, but know that most of the time, you will have to put the repairs on your credit card.

Talk to the mechanic about the issue that the car has. ‘I need my car fixed but have no money for it.’ So, how can it be fixed in a less expensive way? You can also ask the mechanic if the repair is mandatory at the moment or if the car is still usable. Ask your mechanic about the options that he offers to his clients and what is the deal that you can make.

See what kind of discounts are available that can be at your advantage. Negotiating is going to help have a win-win situation for both of you. Talking to your mechanic will also give you a better knowledge of the importance of the repair as well as the way that things function for different financing options, including short-term loans online.

Shop around

Don’t immediately go for the first option you find. If you can be immediately towed to the repair shop, then ok. But if you have time and options, then it is the best that you take advantage of them, or at least you shop around. Look at the best price mechanics and see which one works better for you. You never know what you might find if you never look. Go to at least three or four different places and talk to different people before you make your final decision.

Buy Used Parts, DIY or Sell Your Car

One of the best ways to lower the cost of your car is to buy used parts. New parts are usually the ones that add up to the cost of repair, but you can avoid paying a lot of money if you be a little bit smart, and you buy used parts. People nowadays say DYI, which stands for ‘do it yourself’. Maybe you don’t even need a mechanic to repair your car. There is a ton of information on the internet nowadays, and there are videos that can teach you how to repair your car yourself and save a lot of money.

You can also decide to sell the car if you find this to be the best option for you. You can either sell it as a damaged car for someone who maybe wants to fix it or you can sell its parts and try to make a little bit more money out of it.

Barter Agreements

Another alternative is to discuss a payment plan with the company that’s repairing your vehicle. They may offer better terms than loan companies or banks.

You can even try your luck with bartering with the auto repair company. Perhaps you have a skill they could use, such as mechanical work, building maintenance, and assistance around the shop. Discuss your barter with the owner, and if you do agree, put everything in writing to protect all parties involved.

If you did not manage to find yourself a good deal at a mechanic or you failed to fix the car yourself, then maybe you can barter with someone in your local area, someone in your family or perhaps a friend, who is handy with cars. You can make a good deal with them where they spend their time fixing your car, and you return the favor in some type of way.


Don’t feel like you are stuck financially when you need auto repairs done: now, you have many finance options to pick from. You just have to be willing enough to go out there and find the best option for yourself. That’s basically it. You can repair your car even during rainy financial days.

Mike Lefler shares his interest in a wide range of different subjects, including his love for finance-related writing. The passion for writing, related exceptional skills and his years of study, along with a Master’s Degree at Southwest Minnesota State University led him to become one of the brilliant authors in the massive finance arena and in the area of Financial Planning and Lending Industry.

At the same time, his ability to identify the main points of various aspects and intention to significantly contribute makes him a great team member and a valuable part of 1FirstCashAdvance.

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