Serious automobile problems can be a nightmare for people with limited incomes. It can be impossible to pay for a major repair if you are already living paycheck to paycheck, with barely enough money for essentials such as food and shelter. Fortunately, there may be help available in your local community, or you can find help by being creative. Proof of your income, such as bank statements or tax returns, may be required by private and local agencies offering help.
Contact a local charity such as the United Way, Urban League or Salvation Army. Explain your financial situation and your need for car repairs. Ask the agency to refer you to charitable groups offering free or discounted car repairs to people with limited incomes. For example, in Golden Valley, Minn., a community-funded social service agency, People Responding In Social Ministry, was operating a car repair shop exclusively for economically disadvantaged families as of 2010. In 2009, Community Action Partnership of Greater St. Joseph was giving out $300 car repair vouchers to struggling families in Missouri. Also contact local churches for help.
Apply for public assistance, such as participation in the federal food assistance program, through your local Department of Social Services. Government agencies won't pay for your car to be repaired, but your caseworker may have additional suggestions for free or discounted repairs.
Barter some services in exchange for car repairs. Place advertisements on free online classified sites and post notes on community bulletin boards at coffee houses and grocery stores. For example, you may offer free housekeeping services for a month in exchange for a mechanic installing a new water pump in your car.