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What can I do to get possession of my vehicle back from "mechanic" who has already been paid and not entitled to it?

Los Angeles, CA |

Mechanic has had my vehicle for 4 months now, has been delaying completing it for whatever reason. I have already paid him but he is now saying I owe him money and the car is completed. He has not finished all agreed upon repairs so it's not completed and I do not owe him money. He is now holding my car and threatening to place a lien on it. (I have proof that he breached agreement).

He has already been reported and will not budge. I know all I have left is to file a civil action. My immediate concern is getting possession of my vehicle back and then suing for damages, etc. What forms or paper work or civil actions do I file to do this?

Thank you.

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Attorney answers 1


The quickest way to get your car back may be to file your case in small claims court to get it before a judge for a court order, if the car and your damages are under $10,000 in California. You will have to first send a demand for return of the vehicle in writing to the shop owner and send it by certified mail, return-receipt requested so you can prove he received it. Be sure to keep an eye on the potential lien sale date so you do not lose the car in a sale. Good luck.

The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case.



Thank you for answering. I left out a lot of details to make it short. But I did send a demand letter via certified mail and it was delivered last week. My vehicle and damages are worth more than 10k so I can't go to small claims. What do I do if the value is over 10k? Are there certain forms I have to file? Can I get these online? Also there is no lien on the car yet. I am the registered owner but do not own it completely yet. I also have a finance company who has interest in the vehicle as well. The mechanic hasn't even provided me an invoice even after requested several times.

Adrienne Patricia Allen

Adrienne Patricia Allen


Perhaps before filing a lawsuit in superior court this may be good timing to hire an attorney to do a deman letter for you on legal letterhead, to try to get it resolved. It would be best if you consulted with an attorney regardless.



I was trying to do it all myself. I doubt I can afford an attorney right now. With the money it costs I could probably just pay the money I don't owe to get my car. Thank you.

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