Prepayment and parts purchase estimate

Just curios if anyone knows of any California law regarding prepayment of auto repairs. When I paid, I was uncomfortable making a substantial upfront payment without the work having been performed. Have since filed a complaint for parts purchase without notifying me and estimated cost. When brought to his attention, I cannot believe the mechanic said, “We try not to do that.”

I am a construction contractor. I tell every new client I speak with that you do not pay in advance for services. I do not charge before I either deliver materials or have work started. In most cases you are not dealing with a Mcdonalds style business that is established and you know for sure you get your food once you have paid. Businesses should be able to finance themselves and if they perform the service correctly is almost every case the client pays the bill. In many states there are also laws that state that if you have received a service you must pay for that service under criminal penalty if you don’t. Even if you would sue and win you have no assurance of collecting. You have lost leverage. Good luck in your pursuit.

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Much appreciated. Just curios…is prepayment optional ( lawful or unlawful ) or your personal policy?

I recently spent thousands of dollars…more than 10…on my Jag.

My independent mechanic did not charge a cent until the work was done, even when I kept offering my credit card to cover parts. He said it his business and he has the resources to cover a project, and will get paid when he finishes. That is one of the reasons I keep using him…honesty, integrity, professional…even though he is about 5hours away.


Check with BAR/ Bureua of autoove Repair.
Thee is law. Written and signed work order.

i never heard f payment to an autp place before the work was done.

No signed work order means you do not pay. harsh, indeed.


I spent two years remodeling the house I presently live in, including hiring a number of contractors. I go by a simple rule. If the contractor cannot afford to buy materials (or parts) for the job I am hiring him/her for, then that is not the contractor that I will use.
The warning signs are there that said contractor is using your prepaid money to finish the last job they are working on. That house of cards will fall down. Don’t let it fall on you.strong text

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That is actually a good rule. Good way to think about it Bernard. I will put that into my head for future

as a small time contractor… I could not get discounts on materials so why should I put up money… I always told my people… you buy the parts. . I’ll install

What work are you having done / is this a known shop in your area that you’ve or others have dealt with?

It’s a little apples and oranges. When I manage medium-sized construction jobs ($1-$5M) it’s standard practice for the contractor to request payment once certain materials are delivered to the job site. This is common for things like flooring, fixtures, etc. They also request payment as the work is done, via a “pay application.” They have to pay their suppliers and subs.

I have never had a mechanic ask for pre-payment or pay as you go, nor would I give it, even for jobs costing thousands. That’s just not how reputable shops operate.

Last comment, during a vehicle restoration, which may take a year and be in the high five figures or more, it is reasonable for the shop to request payment as the work is performed. But in that case you can go put eyes on the work: “Yup. Disassembly done. Pay the man. Yup, paintwork done. Pay the man.” And so on…

When I was in the car repair business (California and elsewhere) it was not normal or common to ask for deposits.


There were occasions when I’d ask for a deposit. Most commonly A) when the agreed-upon work exceeded the value of the car or B) when we had an uneasy feeling about a customer’s ability to pay.

It wasn’t common but never a year went by that we didn’t have a least a couple customers agreeing to a big repair job only to yell ‘stop’ half-way thru. Now we have a torn-down car taking up space while we wait for weeks or months for the customer to decide what to do…if indeed we ever hear back from him again.

Or, we’d finish the job only to find the customer had, essentially, vanished. Now we’re stuck with a car we don’t want…and an unpaid bill. Then, oh joy, the legal process of a lien sale.

Meanwhile, our investment for parts and labor is non-recoverable for weeks or months.

Asking for deposits in select instances put an immediate end to those problems. Turns out that people with some skin in the game don’t abandon cars at the repair shop.



This is, sadly, pretty common in auto body/paint/restoration shops.

There are some real horror stories out there


Rebuild engine and replace worn tranny parts.

Interesting. That was my take on the situation, yet I still felt somewhat uneasy . My uneasiness stem from knowing what I felt could happen, actually happened.

Either he would return the car if I didn’t provide the up front money……or having the money, he would not feel pressured because, up to that point, he had no skin in the game.

Much of what was done was seemingly unethical, unlawful/per state law or with the knowledge that business can be transacted loosely and without consequences.

Key phrase….put eyes on the work. With that I would have felt at ease. But verbal statements without substantiation did not soothe my doubts.

Bottom line - get everything agreed in writing in advance:- Quote/estimate; variables if any; starting date and finishing date; stage payments and payment terms; guarantees etc. It wont stop the shop going bad on you but it will give you a load of leverage if the worst happens. Contract terms are there to protect both the consumer and supplier and should be viewed as such. Any shop refusing to agree terms in advance should be viewed with suspicion.


Aye One phase in my career in insurance claims was surety. performance and payment bonds. I stepped in tto finish the jobs that were the last on the hose od cards. or kinda like that age old domno tric. i beame the gate keeper. collected the cotract balance, f any made pay roll. paid subs. aid for material lh. From moderate home remodels to state beach parks. Oh, and a high school gym.

I do not require prepayment. As far as I know there are no laws governing whether a company can require prepayment for services or not. I think this bares aout in that most fast food joints require prepayment and most sit down restaurants do not.

It’s kind of funny, (a little different) , but I’m going through
The process of getting some quotes for new tyres.
One tyre shop , who I was hoping to deal with, due to their
Good reputation for alignments etc., asked me for a credit
card number up front. I don’t blame them as they would
Have to order them in. ( as most do). I called another
Shop and asked the same question, the nice lady said
She would order them in no problem. I said I also wanted
someone who knows how to do a proper wheel alignment.
Not just some monkey with a hammer. She said no
Worries she just purchased a new $50 K alignment machine.
I guess I know where I’m going.

Vasriety for sure

here in CA. Or at east nearby

  1. jack in the box. Drive through servce avaiable. order at one spot. drive up to a window. pay And receive order at the time.

mac donald. order at one place. Drive to another. pay. then still another. get order

Burger King. Much like jack in the box.