Unexpected car repairs can be a financial burden, especially if you’re already on a tight budget. However, ignoring the issue won’t make it go away and could lead to more costly problems down the road. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t afford to fix your car, here are six options to consider:

1. Ask the Repair Shop About Payment Plans

While some mechanics may be hesitant to offer payment plans, it never hurts to ask. Explain your situation and see if they’re willing to work with you. Some shops partner with financing companies that provide interest-free or low-interest loans for car repairs. Be sure to get the terms in writing and make payments on time to avoid additional fees or penalties.

2. Use a Personal Loan or Credit Card

If the repair shop doesn’t offer financing, you could consider taking out a personal loan or using a credit card to cover the cost. Personal loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards and allow you to spread out the payments over a fixed period. However, be mindful of the interest charges and make sure you can afford the monthly payments.

3. Negotiate with the Mechanic

Before agreeing to any repairs, ask the mechanic if there’s room for negotiation. Explain your financial situation and see if they’re willing to reduce the labor costs or use less expensive parts. You could also ask if they offer any discounts for cash payments or for being a loyal customer.

4. Prioritize Essential Repairs

If you can’t afford to fix everything at once, focus on the most essential repairs first. Things like brakes, tires, and steering components should take priority over cosmetic issues or minor inconveniences. This will help keep you safe on the road while you save up for additional repairs.

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5. Consider a Temporary Rental or Ridesharing

If your car is undrivable or the repairs will take a significant amount of time, you may need to find alternative transportation. Renting a car or using ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft can be expensive, but it may be necessary to get to work or run errands while your car is in the shop.

6. Explore Assistance Programs

Some nonprofit organizations and government agencies offer financial assistance for car repairs to low-income individuals. Check with your local United Way, churches, or social service agencies to see if you qualify for any programs in your area.

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