My car broke down! 8 tips for how to pay for car repairs with no money

Mike Page's picture
Authored by Mike Page
Posted Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - 8:29am

It always happens when you least expect it – your car breaks down. And it’s usually at a time you’re dead broke, leaving you to figure out how to pay for car repairs with no money.

The good news is, it’s not a hopeless cause. There are lots of ways to come up with repair money, many of which could put needed cash into your hands today.

Before you panic, let’s look at 8 tips on how to pay for car repairs when you don’t have any money.

1. Use a Credit Card

Having a credit card is an easy way to pay for car repairs when you don’t have an emergency fund to dip into. The trick is to use it wisely.

Make sure you work credit card payments into your budget. Your goal is to pay it off as soon as possible, especially if the interest is high. You can find wiggle room in your budget by trimming costs like unused subscriptions and eating at home more than eating out.

If you don’t have a card and need to apply for one, look for the best deal on interest rates. You’ll also save money if there’s no annual fee.

2. Apply for a Personal Loan

Applying for a personal loan is another way to use credit to pay for unexpected car repairs. Your existing bank or credit union is a great place to start since you already have an established account with them.

Another option is to apply with an online lender. Sometimes you’re able to receive your funds faster this way.

It’s always a good idea to shop around for the best interest rates and loan details. Look to see if there are any extra fees and calculate which one best fits your budget.

If you have bad credit, don’t worry. Companies like Bonsai Finance can help you get a personal loan no matter how bad your credit score is.

3. Set up a Payment Plan

When you’re trying to figure out how to pay for car repairs with no money, it could be as simple as talking to the repair shop. Many auto shops are willing to help set you up with a payment plan to make it easier.

Find out what all the plan details are. Make sure you both agree to the payment amount, due dates, interest rate, and any fees that are included.

The important piece is to make sure you can afford the payments. Don’t be afraid to negotiate until you’re comfortable with the agreement.

4. Find a (Good!) Title or Payday Loan

If you don’t have any other option, check out a title loan or a payday loan. These tend to have extremely high interest rates, averaging 300-500% APR, but could help out when you’re in a pinch.

To make sure you get the best deal, look for short-term repayment plans. The sooner you can pay it off, the more you’ll save in interest. Just make sure you can afford the payment.

Also, if you can get the interest rates to around 36-40%, you’ll be better off.

These types of loans are known for costing people more than they first realize. The goal is to pay the loan off successfully and not have to renew it into a new loan.

5. Get a Side Hustle

When you can’t find enough wiggle room in your budget to come up with extra cash, a great way to make up for that is to earn it.

side hustle allows you to make extra money on your own schedule. Plus, it can be anything you want it to be.

A few quick ways to earn money on the side is to offer a service like doing yard work, house cleaning, or walking dogs.

Other options are to drive for a rideshare service (once your car is repaired, of course). You could deliver food for a food service app. Or put your writing talent to use by freelance writing.

6. Check If the Service is Covered

Some, if not all, of your costs could be covered by a protection plan or warranty. It never hurts to check into it when figuring out how to pay for car repairs with no money!

Look at the details of your car insurance policy or credit card protection plan. Many offer free roadside assistance and towing services, which can help cut the cost of your bill.

If your car is under warranty, look to see what’s covered. It may surprise you to find out the very thing your car is in the shop for is covered under the agreement of your warranty.

Also, if your car was in an accident, call your insurance company. They may cover the costs of repair after you have met your deductible.

7. Ask Family or Friends for Help

It’s not always the most comfortable option, but when you need help with car repairs you can ask family or friends for the money.

Come up with terms that you both can agree on. If it makes you feel better, ask to pay some interest on it and come up with ground rules. Plus, it’s a good idea for both parties if you get everything in writing.

Just be sure you plan to pay them back in full and on time. You don’t want to burn that bridge in case unexpected costs should come up again down the road.

8. Sell or Pawn Items

The answer to your car repair problem could be sitting in your house right now. Finding items to pawn or sell can give you quick access to needed money.

Look around to see if there is anything you don’t use or no longer need. Don’t forget to poke around in the attic, basement, and garage. There could be a hidden treasure you have forgotten about.

Then take what you find to a trusted pawn shop. You could also sell it yourself to friends, online, or in a yard sale. Just be sure you have a sale price in mind beforehand, don’t take what’s less than fair.

Turn a Problem into a Solution by Knowing How to Pay for Car Repairs with No Money

Don’t let the unexpected disrupt your life. By knowing how to pay for car repairs with no money, you’ll be able to get your car back out onto the road in no time.

Now that you've got your car settled, looking for more ways to save money at home? Check out the articles on our Homes & Gardens blog!