Can I do Maintenance on the Public Street?

I have been doing regular maintenance on my car in my parking lot to my condominium for some time now. I guess some neighbors got annoyed and complained to the HOA. This made me feel kind of odd, like one of neighbors is out to make my life as miserable as possible. Because I am parked in my assigned spot, I finish the same day, it’s not like I leave my car on jack stands for days and days, or dump oil down the sewer, I recycle properly and bring to auto parts store. Anyways the HOA called me and said it’s not allowed. I don’t own the parking lot just my unit. Time to accept it and move on.

So I’m now looking for another spot to do regular maintenance on my car. My condominium complex is on a dead end road. The dead end part is not part of the complex and part of the public road (I checked the town plat maps to verify). I’d feel completely fine doing something like an oil change or brake job there if i need to.

You’d think that this would be fine as now I’m on the public Street, but I would not at all be surprised if one of my crazy neighbors complained somehow about this to the police if I did. You would think that they would just ignore it, and worry about people commiting actual crimes.

Is there anyway I can find out if it’s illegal to do regular car maintenance on a public Street on my car in my town? What department would know and were could I find it in writing?

I was thinking the building and code enforcement department in my town hall, but because this is a public Street I’m not sure. I’d rather make sure and be positive it’s allowed and would rather not have a police car pull up on me while doing a brake job etc…

My condo does not come with a garage or driveway just a parking lot for the whole complex to use.

Your city probably has an ordinance that addresses repairing vehicles on public streets.

I suggest you look into that.



Most cities have rules about non-working vehicles parked on the city streets . I can see your vehicle being towed while you are at the parts store getting more parts if it setting on jacks .
Frankly I don’t blame your neighbors for complaining especially if their are children in the complex.


What are the chances a cop is going to give you a ticket. Probably just a warning at most. You sound more reasonable and rationl than the others in your neighborhood. Could always go to an auto parts parking lot, Had to do a few repairs there, like a fuel pump bought at the store in 18 degree weather. Knew a guy bought a condo, grass can only be mowed 9 to 4 monday through friday, I can see both sides.

My experience is that most rental facilities (apartments, townhouses, condos, and any other type of unit that rents to multiple parties, and even some rental houses) have rules that specifically prohibit performing maintenance in the parking lots and communal areas. Now, the term “maintenance” can be a bit vague, is checking your oil, or filling your windshield washer fluid or radiator, considered maintenance. Some places do not allow even this level of service. Some home rentals do not allow vehicle maintenance either because the renter might not care that the old car up on jacks and bricks, dripping oil and grease is ruining the driveway or yard.

In the county that I live the Code even prohibits washing your car on the public streets or in any public area… (Streets and Roads are defined to be Public Areas…

York County, Virginia Code, Article 5-Traffic, Section 17-89 Parked Motor Vehicles: “Washing and servicing vehicles. Washing, repairing or servicing of vehicles is prohibited in the public areas, except for the making of repairs required for removal of the vehicle from the area. Abandonment of vehicles is prohibited. If mechanical disablement occurs in public areas, immediate steps must be taken for removal.”

If your vehicle breaks down, you can only repair it enough to remove it… You are not going to be able to do a brake job…

So, you can play ignorant and hope the neighbors do not complain or that the police performing a drive by do not tap you on the shoulder and tell you that it’s against the law and if you do not stop it, they will tow your vehicle away…


HOAs can be very fussy as most apartments on working in the parking lot. You need a garage. Most parts stores do not allow work in their parking lots either. You can check with city hall on working in the street. You call general information and they will transfer you, but I doubt if it is allowed. Or if it is now, it only takes one neighbor to complain to the counsel to get an ordinance passed.

GTFOH. As long as one is working on their car in a safe, responsible manner, there is really no hazard or nuisance, etc. “Neighbors” like this are precisely why I would NEVER buy, own, or accept as a gift a home in an HOA.

With no HOA, I can certainly work on my personal vehicles in my driveway, or even my front yard (which is dirt and gravel, btw). The only thing I could not legally do, which I have no desire to do, is work on other peoples’ cars as a business. It is illegal to do that at a private residence.


Rarely do I go to the parts store and do not see someone working on something.

I would NEVER buy, own, or accept as a gift a home in an HOA.

GTFOH. As long as one is working on their car in a safe, responsible manner, there is really no hazard or nuisance, etc. “Neighbors” like this are precisely why I would NEVER buy, own, or accept as a gift a home in an HOA.

With no HOA, I can certainly work on my personal vehicles in my driveway, or even my front yard (which is dirt and gravel, btw).
Agree 100 % I will not have anyone telling me what I can or can not do in my own house.

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Wouldn’t they have had to be able to run if you drove them? Doesn’t mean they run now.

In many towns, your cars would be just as illegal as repairing cars on the street.

It is illegal to have an unregistered car stored in the open in mu town. A neighbor of mine has an Olds Aurora with no plates on it sitting on his front lawn for the last 10 years with no plates. It is tucked between his driveway and a tree.

We don’t complain about each other here and even though there are police cars regularly patrolling our streets, they have no interest in enforcing these kind of ordinances without a complaint.

I might check local ordinances in my town, to see if they are similar.
I have a neighbor–thankfully about 2 blocks away in my development–who apparently has more money than brains. When he moved in, he had a first-generation Acura MDX SUV, and shortly thereafter he added a new Lexus SC430 hardtop convertible.

At different points, the Acura and the Lexus both ceased to be functional, so he replaced the Acura with an Audi Q7, and the replacement for the Lexus is a BMW Z4 roadster.

What happened to the old Acura and the old Lexus? They both sit at odd angles in the driveway, and he and his wife have to maneuver around them. The Acura has been sitting in the same place for about 4 years, and the Lexus hasn’t moved for almost as long.

Even if someone has as much money as this couple apparently does, why would anyone want to have to maneuver around two seemingly dead cars every day? Clearing snow in the winter has to be much more of a pain with those large obstacles in the driveway. Needless to say, his garages are not used for parking his cars.

Even if it would cost a lot to make both of the old cars operational, just having them towed away would yield a few hundred $$ in payment, and would make their lives much easier. It is even possible that a shade tree mechanic might pay them a few thousand for those upscale vehicles, so that he could fix them up and then unload them.

At this point, they gain nothing by having those dead vehicles in their driveway, and they could get some cash from simply getting rid of them. Other than the old inoperative vehicles, their grounds and the exterior of their home are neatly-kept, so their “blindness” to the blight in their driveway is puzzling.

'tis a mystery…

The problem with asking the police about this issue is that they may not really know the law. They may reply with no you cannot without really knowing what the statute books says. The city engineering department might know the legal answer to that.
Not knocking the cops here but I’ve been stopped for alleged motorcycle equipment illegalities which were in fact quite legal.
Some cities have their statute books online so a net search may pull up something.

As for HOAs I would never live in a place with one of them. I can get pretty volatile when someone screws around with me or my family members and have been known more than once or twice to go pay a hostile visit to someone’s front door on confront them on the street.
When someone intentionally steps on my toes my temperament does not remain calm.

I can understand why there’s laws prohibiting repairs on pubilc streets as I wouldn’t “Bob’s Curbstone Mechanics” to set up a rent free annex on my taxpayers’ supported public roads so it’s more of a practical matter.

A 30 minute oil change twice a year leaving the area neat and clean? I doubt anyone would notice or care.
A 4 hour brake job with the car lifted, wheels, tools and parts scattered about? Definately a gray area, maybe a warning.
A 3 day job with the vehicle partially disassembled waiting for parts? Expect a ticket.

Regarding your “crazy neighbors” complaints, around here the “Junkyard Laws” make storage of an unlicensed vehicle illegal, even on your own property but it again comes down to practicalities.

An old car you’re working on, parked in your driveway and covered when parked? No problem.
A rusted out and busted up jalopy on your front lawn? Expect a ticket.

Point is that on a practical level, moderation and respect for neighbors is often more important than legal or illegal.


I’m not sure where you live, it I’ve seen several vehicles repaired in public streets in California over the last 30 years of business travel there. This includes travel last summer. I spent most of the summer in Lompoc and the townhouse complex next to my hotel backed up to a public street. One of the residents always had a car in repair or car parts on a trailer parked on the road. Lots of police passing this area and the street was never cleared. Maybe your area is the same.

Three words: liability, liability, liability.

About a half mile from my home, there is an older home that was occupied for decades by the same guy, until he died a couple of years ago. He was apparently going to “some day” fix-up the fleet of old Volvo 142s that he had sitting under the trees for at least 25 years. He died before any work was ever done on those old, rusting hulks.

The house was gut-renovated and sold by his executor, and in the process of hauling the old junk Volvos out from a grove of trees that had grown-up around the cars, they found an even older Chevy or GMC van that was more rust than metal. Because the ground was so saturated with oil and grease, the grove of trees was cut down and a couple of feet of contaminated soil was hauled away.

I guess that the old guy’s immediate neighbors must have been very tolerant because they apparently never complained to the cops about that mini junkyard/eyesore.

Oil changes, brake jobs, simple stuff like that, I’d just do it. Easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Around here, most folks mind their own business, BTW. Kind of nice…

And if somebody thinks their kids are in danger because someone is working on a car in the parking lot, they really ought to be keeping up with their kids a little better. If they don’t know if their kids are crawling under a car on jack stands, then they also don’t know if their kids are crawling into a car with a stranger, playing hide and seek in the dumpster, etc.

I would not leave the car on jack stands unaccompanied, though. That just gives the impression that it’s going to be like that for a while - not a good look.


Keep up with kids ? Good Grief , kids can be rational and go to this seems like a good idea in split second .

Everything Yoshi does he seems to turn it into an ordeal so I am only surprised the neighbors haven’t complained sooner .


Yes. What age kids are going to be endangered by someone working on a car?

I wouldn’t let young kids out of my sight, unsupervised, in a parking lot anyway. If they’re in danger of crawling under a car on jack stands, are they not in danger of getting run over by a car being driven?


I used to wander all over the place when I was young. I got in trouble for it when I got home sometimes, especially when I went to the creek and my parents found out. This was where the storm sewer runoff ended up. In my early teens a friend and I rode on the DC beltway from our homes to the American Legion Bridge and back, about 12 miles round trip. The road and bridge were under construction. I don’t recall getting in trouble for that though. Both of my parents worked and trusted me from age 9 on to keep from getting into too much trouble when they were at work. Before age 9 we had a maid that cleaned house and kept an eye on us when we were at home. No one followed us around.