UPDATED: October 13, 2022

So your car broke and you need to have it repaired but you don’t have spare money. 

Car repairs, depending on how small or big the job is, can be expensive. It’s extra challenging if you’re living on a tight budget or if you’re from a low-income family.

The good thing is you can look for grants that offer financial assistance for your car repairs or get your car fixed for free.

We looked at different ways and programs to get financial assistance for auto repairs and rounded up the best ones based on your likelihood of success at getting approved.

You might be facing big expenses on car repairs if you missed out on the tips here. We'll tell you where and how to get financial help and how much you can get approved.

Read on and get financial help quickly to pay for your car repairs.

Government Grants

The government understands the importance of transportation. They’ve come up with grants to help eligible families or individuals who require financial assistance for car repair. Listed below are some of the government grants you should check out if you need help in funding your car repair.

1. Job Access And Reverse Commute Program (JARC)

Job Access And Reverse Commute Program (JARC) is a federally funded grant program that provides financial support to low-income individuals and reverse commuters so they can get to and from their job. Financial assistance is provided through non-profit organizations and local agencies.

JARC is offered to veterans, unemployed, single mothers, and those who are receiving cash from Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) or other welfare programs.

In order to be eligible, several factors will be considered:

  • You need to be located in an area with unreliable public transport. 
  • If the work distance is not an issue, your time of work will be taken into account.

For example, working late at night or on the weekends when finding public transportation is difficult may increase your chances of getting approved for a grant. 

If you’re located in an area with no public transport available at the time you need to go to work and your car is broken, then you may qualify for this assistance. 

Your application may also be considered if your job involves multiple job-related trips.

Although the funding is limited, it can be used for emergency car repairs. You can use it to maintain your car, buy new tires, or do any kind of car repair.

The government doesn’t provide the fund directly to individuals but to non-profit organizations. If you need financial help for car repairs, you have to apply to organizations offering programs that provide JARC assistance.

You may call 211 for information on the organizations that have such programs in your area.

2. Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF)

Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) also offers car repair assistance to low-income families so they could meet their employment goals. 

You may be eligible to get assistance from TANF if:

  • You’re pregnant and struggling financially
  • You’re caring for kids below 19 years old
  • You’re below 18 years old and serve as head of your household

National Car Repair Organizations

You’ll also find national car repair organizations that help eligible car owners get free or discounted repairs.

1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

You can ask the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for help if your vehicle has a flaw or a recall has been detected in your car.

You don’t need to pay for anything since the NHTSA will contact the dealer directly regarding the problem caused by the flaw in their automobile.

The motor vehicle manufacturer will hire a third-party company to get the vehicle registration data for the affected vehicles. Doing so helps them determine the car owners whose vehicles are subject to a safety recall. 

If you’re one of these car owners, you will receive a notification via the U.S. Mail about the safety recall and the steps you need to follow to have the defect fixed. 

2. Modest Needs

Modest Needs is a non-profit organization that provides short-term financial support to individuals and families that are facing a temporary financial crisis. They offer cash grants of $750 to $1,250 on average to get your car repaired.

You must meet the following requirements:

  • You need to be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be a legal resident of the US or Canada. 
  • You should have an active bank account.
  • You need regular internet access so you can check your email for updates about your application. 
  • You must pass the income and employment guidelines to be eligible for a grant.

To apply, follow these steps:

  • Register an account on Modest Needs’ website.
  • Login to your account and click “Apply for Help Now.”
  • You’ll be redirected to the ‘Apply for Help' page with a link to our online application.

3. 1-800 Charity Cars

1-800 Charity Cars offers free donated cars to eligible individuals. 

You can apply if you’re any of the following:

  • A veteran
  • A victim of natural disasters or domestic violence
  • Medically needy
  • Belong to a family moving from public assistance to work.

Here are the steps to apply for a donated car. 

  • Fill out a vehicle request form
  • Provide your name, email, phone number, and address. 
  • Indicate your annual household income, employment status, etc. 
  • Explain why you need a car and why they should grant your request.

Charities and Non-Profit Organizations

You may also find charities and non-profit organizations that offer financial assistance for car repairs.

Lutheran Services

Lutheran Services is a non-profit organization that coordinates with local charities and agencies to provide financial assistance to low-income families. The eligibility criteria vary in every state but in most cases, the organization prioritizes those who are employed but struggling financially.

Follow these steps to apply:

  • Submit an application form online or through local churches.
  • Explain why you need car repair assistance. 

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army provides various types of assistance including funding for car repairs. 

To be eligible, you need to:

  • be a US citizen 
  • prove that you’re struggling financially

Follow these steps to apply:

  • Go to the nearest Salvation Army office in your area and ask about their car repair program.
  • Submit an application form along with other important documents, such as proof of income and financial hardship.

The Carpenter’s Garage

The Carpenter’s Garage works alongside the federal government to provide assistance for car repairs to eligible low-income families. The car repairs are not totally free for qualified individuals but the charges are based on your financial capabilities.

You have to submit an application form and proof of income to apply for reduced labor charges.  Volunteers who work at The Carpenter’s Garage provide various auto services, such as oil inspection and engine tuning, at a nominal price.


Some churches also offer financial assistance including funding for car repair to people who are in need.

United Methodist Church Ministries

It’s a faith-based organization that offers financial assistance. It runs car ministries, which involve helping qualified low-income families or individuals with their transportation needs.

Eligible applicants are usually those who are struggling financially or going through a challenging life situation. 

When you apply, you may be required to provide proof of income, hardship, and a letter that explains your current situation and why you need help.

For example, if you’re employed and come from a low-income family but your income isn’t enough to cover your car repairs, then you will have a chance of getting approved for financial assistance.

How much you’ll get depends on the church. In some cases, the financial assistance will be enough to cover the cost of labor and you have to pay the cost of the replacement parts.

Follow these steps to apply:

  • Find a United Methodist Church in your area that has a car ministry. 
  • Submit a letter of application for car repair assistance.
  • Explain why you need the help of the church.
  • Be ready to provide proof of income and other financial documents to prove that you can’t afford to pay for the car repair. 

St. Vincent De Paul

St. Vincent De Paul is an organization that works with the local parish and local car shop owners so they can offer free car repair.

Only the labor charges will be free and that means you’ll have to cover the expenses for the required replacement parts.

To be eligible, you need to belong to a struggling family who needs financial assistance to have their car repaired so they can go to work. You also have to submit a formal application or letter to a St. Vincent De Paul parish near you. 

If for some reason, you fail to qualify, St. Vincent may provide you with free bus passes or tickets or referrals to auto repair shops where you can get your car fixed for cheap or for free. A volunteer may also offer to provide you with transportation.

Can You Fix Your Car With No Money?

The cost of car repair varies depending on the type of vehicle you have, the nature of the work required, and the car mechanic’s labor rate. According to AAA, the average cost of common car repairs ranges between $500 and $600.

Brake repairs may cost you an average of $500 while a starter or alternator service may hit you up between $400 and $600.

If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to bring your car to an auto shop, you may be tempted to fix your car yourself. If it’s an easy fix, you can try to do the repairs yourself provided that you have a background or are familiar with fixing cars. If not, it’s best to bring it to a car specialist.  

You can also minimize your expenses by getting used but functioning replacement parts instead of buying new ones. You can also search for auto shops that offer discounted rates.

What Are The Other Ways To Finance Auto Repairs?

Look for other options if you’re unable to secure car repair financial assistance from the government, charities, non-profit organizations, or churches. 

Keep in mind that you should only consider these options as your last resort. Check the lists provided above and look for free or discounted car repairs first. This way, you’ll avoid getting into more debt, which would cause you a lot of problems given that you’re already cash-strapped.

Apply For A Personal Loan

Applying for a personal loan is a common option if you need extra cash to pay for your car repair expenses. The application process, loan amount, repayment terms, and interest rates differ between lenders.

Though the eligibility criteria vary from one loan provider to another, they will all check your credit history when determining if you’ll qualify for a loan. Your credit score will also affect the interest rate and the loan terms.

Here are the common personal loan options that can help you pay for your car repair:

Traditional loans

Credit unions and banks offer traditional loans. You need to submit your proof of income, employment verification, and sometimes you also have to provide your Social Security number so the lender can check your credit report.

Once approved, you’ll repay the amount you borrowed along with the interest rate over a set period of time. A traditional loan is a good option because of its lower interest rate compared to payday loans. It’s also a sensible choice if you need to borrow a bigger amount since you can repay it.

Payday loans

Payday loans, also known as check advance loans or cash advance loans, let you borrow cash that you can pay on your next payday. They’re short-term loans that come with high fees compared to traditional loans. Additionally, they have high-interest rates of up to 28% for the amount borrowed, which you need to pay in the next two weeks or on your next payday, hence, the name.  

Title loans

Car title loans are popular options for those who are in need of fast cash. However, they can be very expensive because of their high annual percentage rates, which can reach up to 300%.

Car title loans are secured loans. If you have bad credit, it’ll be easier for you to get approved because you can use your vehicle as collateral.

Use Your Credit Card

Another quick option is to use your credit card. However, the interest rate could reach up to 15% and could take you up to 56 months to repay. It’s better to use your credit card only for purchases that you know you can afford to repay within one billing cycle so you can minimize your interest rate.

Final Thoughts

Car problems can be very stressful, especially if you don’t have any spare cash to cover the expenses. Fortunately, there are ways to get free car repairs or financial assistance to get your car fixed. You can apply for a grant, meet certain requirements, and submit the needed documents. Once you get approved, you’ll be able to get your car fixed.