What if you can’t pay your car repair bill?

What if you can’t pay your car repair bill?


Wondering how you're ever going to pay all the bills piling up on your desk? The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says you're not alone. A full third of Brits report that they’re finding it hard to keep up with their normal household expenses.  

If you’re in that position, a large and unexpected bill for car repairs could be a real problem. Try as we might, not everyone has savings packed away for a rainy day. If your car needs transmission work or repairs to the engine or cylinders, you could easily find yourself staring down a £3,000 to £5,000 bill. 

What are your car repair financing options? 

If your auto repair bill is more than you expected and you can't afford to pay it, here are six things you can do.

1. Ask if there's a cheaper alternative

If the estimate you’ve received for a repair job is surprisingly high, ask the mechanic if there’s a less-expensive option available. 

That doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or risking further problems later. Sometimes an estimate is based on certain part brands and the highest hourly labour rate. With a bit of flexibility, the garage might be able to use cheaper parts or find a workaround to cut down the cost.  

2. Do the repairs in phases 

If the service centre is recommending you do a series of repairs, ask if you can prioritise them and do only the most crucial fixes first. If you can break the whole job up into phases and control the timings, you’ll be better able to manage the overall cost. So long as there’s no safety risk to deferring some repairs, let the fixes that can wait ‘til later, wait ‘til later. 

3. Offer to clear the bill in more than one payment 

If you can’t clear your car’s repair bill in one go, ask the service centre if they’ll let you break up the bill into multiple payments.  Some garages will let you do this or may even offer their own basic in-house financing for large repair jobs.  

Do be aware however that under UK law, mechanics can put a lien on your car if you don’t pay the bill in-full within 30 days. That could mean leaving your car at the garage until the bill is fully paid. To avoid that happening you might want to put part of the bill on a credit card or consider a dedicated auto repair loan. 

4. Popping it on your credit card 

Credit cards are a simple way to cover any unexpected expense, though the interest can make an already large bill even bigger. 

Still, if you're stuck with a big repair bill sometimes the most straightforward solution is the best one. If you have 0% APR deal and can pay down the balance quickly, putting it on your card might not be so painful. But if you have a standard interest rate, you’re going to have to take the extra hit. 

In that case the interest rate on a dedicated car repair loan might be more attractive.  

5. Consider car repair loans 

An auto repair loan is loan or credit line designed specifically to cover car repairs. Most of the firms specialising in car repair loans know that repairs often land without warning, so they try and make the process simple so you can get the cash you need ASAP. 

Any lender will want you to have good credit, but car repair loan specialists typically offer loans for people with poor credit too. Note though that you’ll likely pay higher fees or accept a less generous interest rate. 

Try Bumper 

Bad luck can catch anyone out when it comes to cars and maintenance. If you do find yourself facing a sizeable repair bill for something unexpected, Bumper's ‘buy now, pay later’ service can help ease the pain.  

Bumper lets you split hefty a repair bill into smaller, easy-to-manage, interest-free payments. It works like this: 

  1. Enter your vehicle registration number and postcode
  2. Select a local repair centre from our network
  3. Complete a simple credit application for up to £5,000 
  4. Receive your unique Bumper Code
  5. Book your appointment

The whole process takes a matter of minutes. Bumper lets you get the repairs you need quickly, while deferring payments in easy interest-free instalments. Visit our How It Works page to find out more. 

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*By using Bumper, you are taking out a form of credit. You must be 18+ & a UK resident to apply. There are no fees, no interest or additional charges, however missed payments may incur a £12 administration fee and may impact your credit score. In extreme cases, recovering missed payments may include using a responsible debt collection agency, or as a last resort, taking legal action. Bumper’s instalment credit products are not regulated by the FCA.