It is unlawful for any motor vehicle repair shop to fail to return any customer’s motor vehicle because the customer refused to pay for unauthorized repairs or because the customer has refused to pay for repair charges in excess of the final estimate (§ 559.909, Fla. Stat.). However, if the repair shop claims the work was performed under a proper written estimate, the repair shop may file a lawsuit to place a possessory lien against the vehicle (Part II, Chapter 713 Fla. Stat. If this occurs, you can pay the amount of the repair plus storage charges less any payments as a bond to the clerk of the circuit court (§ 559.917, Fla. Stat.).

The clerk will then issue a certificate which you deliver to the shop to pick up the car. The repair shop then must sue to get their money within 60 days, and may request the court order a public sale of the vehicle to satisfy the lien. (§ 713.585, Fla. Stat.). If the repair shop does not sue within 60 days, the clerk of the court shall return the bond money to you. No motor vehicle repair shop may refuse to return a customer’s motor vehicle by virtue of any miscellaneous lien (§ 559.919, Fla. Stat.).