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Can an auto repair shop hold a car hostage for payment?

Seattle, WA |

I took my '36 Ford in to have work done. The cost quoted was $3,200 - no written estimate. The car is ready and the shop now wants $5,700. I did not agree to this higher amount. They will not release my car until this higher amount is paid in full and will not negotiate.

A repair shop fixed my car and replaced parts above the work detail without autherization. The verbal estimate to fix was between 1500-1700. When i got the call from the shop that the car was done. They said it was going to be almost 2800. I gave them 1875 which was 10% over the high side of the estimate and they wont give me my car back! Do they have the right to hold my car for the remaining balance? Or should i get the police to get my key back?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Best answer

    Look to the Automotive Repair Act, Chapter 46.71 RCW. A written estimate is normally required for any repair over $100, but there is an exception if you dropped the car off for repair and authorized repairs to be made. An automotive repair facility that fails to comply with the estimate requirements is generally barred from recovering more than 110% of the amount authorized by the customer, and is not entitled to assert a lien. But as Mr. Alexander says, if the shop won't release your car until you pay the higher amount, this dispute over the price difference can be resolved in small claims court.


  2. Take the to small claims for the difference, They are enforcing a mechanic's lien and will stick to until a judge tells them you don't owe it.

    Good Luck