Free car repairs for low-income families (2024)

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Looking to repair your car?

Here are some affordable options for getting help with car repairs when you’re short on cash:

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How do you fix your car if you don’t have the money?

AAA reports that the typical car repair expense ranges from $500 to $600. If you’re seeking ways to cover car repair costs when you’re short on cash, consider these options:

  • Reach out to nearby trade schools teaching car mechanics. According to a Reddit user, students might be able to fix their cars for only the price of parts.
  • Veterans can inquire at the local VA for programs offering free car repairs.
  • Contact local repair shops to check if they offer financing or payment plans.
  • Confirm if the repair falls under your warranty or a recall.
  • Consider applying for a credit card with a 0% interest introductory period to cover the cost and pay gradually.
  • Look into government programs and nonprofits aiding low-income families with free car repairs.

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Government assistance for car repairs

If you earn a low income or receive government financial aid, you might qualify for assistance with car repairs.

Local welfare offices

The Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) allocate funds to local offices to address community needs.

In certain states, funds are allocated for specific purposes, such as car repairs:

  • In Michigan, the DHHS offers the Employment Support Services program, which aids enrollees with car repairs.
  • Ohio’s Prevention Retention and Contingency (PRC) program supports low-income families by addressing transportation challenges, including auto repairs or down payments for vehicles. Eligibility requires being pregnant or a parent of children under 18.

See your State Social Service Agency.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) monitors vehicle recalls. If your car has a recall, you can go to a dealer to get it fixed for free.

To find out if there’s a recall for your vehicle, you’ll need its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can use the NHTSA SaferCar app or sign up for email alerts to stay informed about future safety recalls.

Check the national recall list.

State grants for car repairs

Discover grants available for single moms, including our $500 Monthly Kickass Single Mom Stimulus Grant. Some grants cater specifically to car repairs, while others offer financial assistance for various needs. Here are a few examples:

  • EnAct Community Action provides car repair assistance in West Virginia and Alabama for individuals with consistent employment of at least one year, meeting income criteria, and requiring repairs to commute to work.
  • Mississippi DHS allocates funds from its community services block grant for car repairs, available to individuals with incomes within 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.

Direct Auto Insurance has compiled a comprehensive list of 20 local and state organizations offering aid for car repairs.

Federal help for car repairs

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program gives cash aid to eligible families with children to cover various essential expenses like:

  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Furniture
  • Phone
  • Laundry
  • Home supplies
  • Unpaid medical supplies (not covered by Medicaid)
  • Other basics

Each state decides its rules for who qualifies, how much money is given, and how it can be spent. Some states provide monthly payments (usually a few hundred dollars), while others, such as Texas, offer one-time payments for emergencies.

To see if you qualify for help with car repairs, search for your state’s TANF program.

Nonprofits and charities that help with car repairs

Nonprofits and charities may provide help with car repairs or financial assistance for fixing your car. You can inquire at your local branches of these nonprofits:

Salvation Army

Different Salvation Army branches provide varying services. Some may offer assistance with car repairs. For instance:

  • In Elkhart County, Indiana, the Salvation Army helped individuals with emergency car repairs.
  • In Charlotte County, Florida, they partnered with a local repair shop to aid residents with vehicle maintenance or repairs, covering up to $250 per vehicle.
  • The St. Paul West 7th Street Salvation Army in Minnesota provides emergency financial aid for car repairs, transportation, rent payments, and other urgent needs.

To find your local Salvation Army, enter your zip code:

United Way

The United Way operates in over 1,100 communities globally, helping people access essential resources. Depending on your location, your local United Way can assist you in finding car repair programs.

For instance:

  • In Stark County, Ohio, the United Way collaborates with Stark County Job and Family Services to administer an auto repair program for local families. Qualifying individuals can receive up to $1,500 for vehicle repairs.
  • In Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, the Agency for Community Empowerment of NEPA (ACE) offers a car repair grant of up to $500 directly to the servicing garage for those who rely on their vehicle for work transportation.
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To explore available car repair resources in your county or state, visit your local United Way website or dial 2-1-1.

Community Action

Local community action agencies funded by the federal Community Services Block Grant offer assistance to low-income families, including financial assistance with car repairs. These agencies address various needs, such as nutrition, transportation aid, and employment support.

For instance, the Center for Community Action in Pennsylvania offers a vehicle assistance program for families earning at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. This program serves residents in Huntingdon, Bedford, Mifflin, Fulton, and Juniata counties, providing up to $1,000 for car repairs or $2,000 for purchasing a vehicle.

Search online for “community action near me” to locate local agencies.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities has been providing assistance to families in need for over a century. They offer financial aid, housing support, nutrition assistance, and more.

With branches across the country, there may be one in your community that can help you with car repairs. For example, in Oklahoma, a local mechanic volunteers with Catholic Charities to fix and maintain vehicles for single mothers with children.

You can contact your local branch to ask about car repair services or emergency financial assistance to get your car back on the road.

Find your nearest Catholic Charities.

St. Vincent de Paul Societies

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul helps people in need, including car repairs. Contact your local branch to find out what services they offer.

Locate your nearest St. Vincent de Paul Society location.

Lutheran Church Charities

Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) aids people through humanitarian efforts within the Lutheran Church. It operates as a nonprofit organization, assisting communities nationwide and worldwide.

Local pastors reach out to LCC with requests to support families facing difficulties. These requests are posted on the LCC website for individuals to contribute. The needs include rent assistance, car repairs, or emergency shelter following disasters.

For further details, reach out to Lutheran Church Charities.

The Lift Garage

The Lift Garage in Minneapolis, Minnesota, provides affordable car repairs for customers who fall at or below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines.

To confirm your eligibility, you need to submit documents like pay stubs, SSI income statements, or proof of WIC or other social service benefits.

Once approved, you can purchase parts at cost and pay a labor rate of only $15 per hour. Additionally, they offer free car inspections to estimate repair expenses.

Cheap auto repair shops “near me”

Looking for affordable auto repair shops nearby? Search for “cheap auto repair shops near me” online:

You can reach out to nearby trade schools, colleges, and technical schools to offer your car for repairs as a volunteer. While you might need to cover the cost of parts, you could receive discounted or even free labor, depending on the school’s policy.

Search “DIY auto garage near me”

Consider trying a do-it-yourself (DIY) auto garage if you’re handy with car repairs. These garages provide tools while you bring your own parts. Onsite mechanics are available to answer questions or help at a reduced rate.

Here are some examples:

Search “DIY auto garage near me” for options in your area:


Explore numerous auto repair channels on YouTube that offer tutorials on common repairs.

Watch this informative video by ChrisFix demonstrating how to effectively remove dents from your car.

Church car repair ministry “near me”

Consider reaching out to nearby churches to inquire about their car repair ministries. Here are some options we discovered:

OSLC Car Shop

The Our Savior Lutheran Church (OSLC) car shop in Tacoma, Washington, offer assistance to those unable to afford car repairs at regular auto shops. Certified mechanics supervise volunteers who handle minor repairs and oil changes.

If you’re in the area, contact PSC to check if you’re eligible.

Fix it Forward Ministry

Fix It Forward Ministry, headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, doesn’t directly handle car repair requests. Instead, they connect individuals to over 30 organizations that aid low-income families and those facing crises.

They recommend reaching out to FirstLink, a free service dedicated to linking residents of North Dakota and Minnesota with the necessary support.

United Methodist Church

The Car Care Ministry at McEachern United Methodist Church in Powder Springs, Georgia, offers free car repairs to church members and community members in need. They also refurbish donated vehicles and provide them to those who require reliable transportation. If you can’t afford parts, you might still get assistance.

If you’re in the area and need assistance, contact the church for details.

Search for “car repair ministry near me”

If you need free or discounted car repairs, search for “Car repair ministry near me” to find churches that offer this service:

What happens if you can’t afford to pay your mechanic?

If you cannot cover your car repair costs upfront, consider negotiating a payment plan with your mechanic. It’s essential to discuss payment options beforehand.

Some mechanics provide financing or are willing to arrange a payment schedule. Some might offer parts at cost without extra charges. Contact various mechanics to compare quotes and available options.

What are some other ways to get help with car repairs?

If you’re friends with a mechanic, consider trading services to get your car repaired. Offer your expertise in exchange for fixing your car. For instance, if you’re an accountant, you could offer to do your friend’s taxes.

Another option is to contact nearby trade schools with auto mechanic programs. They might provide free car servicing, though you may still need to cover the cost of parts.

What to do with a car you can’t afford to fix?

If you can’t afford repairs, you have options like donating, junking, or selling your car. Selling it can help you fund a better car or use public transport while you save for a reliable vehicle.

If you need a car loan but have low or no credit or face repossession or bankruptcy, try Auto Credit Express. They have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, offer 30-second pre-approval, and provide cash within 24 hours.

The bottom line

If you require assistance with car repairs, there are numerous options available to you, whether you need significant repairs or routine maintenance, such as:

Here are some ways to help you get your vehicle back on track:

  • Look into government programs, grants, and nonprofit organizations that provide financial assistance for basic needs, such as transportation.
  • Negotiate with auto repair shops to arrange necessary repairs and inquire about payment plans or financing options.
  • Reach out to local ministries that offer car repair services for support.