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We rely on our cars to get us to work, school, mom and dad’s house, Point A to Point B, and then some. And when they break, our world comes screeching to a halt. Not only are we without a car but saddled with costly repairs.
Here are the most expensive car repairs, as well as ways you can prevent them.
13 Potentially Expensive Auto Repairs That Are Easily Avoidable
How much? $300
You’re driving along and a truck kicks a rock from the road onto your windshield and cracks it. A small crack may not have to be fixed if it isn’t a hazard but oftentimes small cracks will grow with cold temperatures. If you don’t have car insurance, replacing a windshield can average $300.
12. New Tires
Whether you get a flat because of an object in the road or the treads of your tire have run bare, you cannot replace just one tire on your car as it will affect alignment. The cheapest tire replacement will be for two tires, with tires ranging anywhere from $50 to $300 apiece. If you need all four replaced, your budget will take a hit.
Save money: Wear and tear on your tires increases if you take curves too fast and brake too hard. Slow down and protect your tires but be sure to rotate your tires every 7,500 miles to help keep your treads balanced. Make this a regular part of your car’s maintenance.
Bonus: Better tires lead to better fuel efficiency, which can save you at the gas pump.
11. Air Conditioner Compressor Replacement
How much? $500
There is nothing worse than when you lose your air conditioning on a hot summer’s day. A leading cause is a car’s air compressor. This little beauty pumps Freon into your car to keep it cool but if any part of the compressor stops working, you’ll need to replace it at the cost of around $500.
Save money: Prevention is cheaper than repairs and having your air conditioning cleaned and services at least once a year (perhaps as spring comes) can help spot issues before they become more costly.
10. New Brakes
How much? $500
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If you hear your brakes squeaking, it’s your auto’s way of telling you it’s time to replace your brake pads, which can cost between $150 to $300. If you don’t take the car in, the pads could fully erode and require new rotors, which can cost $350 to $500 – on top of new pads.
Save money: A good rule of thumb is to have your brake pads replaced between 25,000 and 70,000 miles, depending on the way you drive. Replacing the pads can save you from replacing the rotors too.
9. Brake Line Repairs
How much? $1,000
While both brakes and rotors are not an expense you want to come out of your budget, what you don’t want to have is a broken brake line. This is what delivers brake fluid to your brakes and it shouldn’t be patched and needs to be replaced at a hefty price tag.
Save money: To ensure your brake line is running smoothly, have your brake fluid flushed every 30,000 miles. This can cost up to $120 but it’s better than $1,000!
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8. Catalytic Converter Replacement
How much? $1,500
To help keep emissions from cars lower, they are outfitted with catalytic converters that, as you may guess, convert the bad air into safer air. But if it goes, so does $1,500.
Save money: A fun way to help keep your catalytic converter from clogging is to get your car on the highway for a drive. The speed will heat up the exhaust, which will burn off any buildup.
7. Head Gasket Replacement
How much? $2,000
How do you know if you’ve blown your gasket? Steam comes out of the engine in the car and it’s what you see in movies when someone is on the side of the road with the hood up.
This special gasket stops the car from overheating. If spotted before it blows, it’s a cheap replacement. But if you are on the side of the road with the hood up, it’s gonna cost you in labor and repairs.
Save money: Your cooling system is what keeps your car from overheating. Taking your car in for regular oil changes can help prevent issues as mechanics will look for leaks, check your radiator and top off your coolant.
6. Camshaft Repair
How much? $3,000
If your valves don’t get cleaned, they can get clogged and break. The camshaft works on the air your engine gets and those clogged pipes can ruin your entire system. By the way, this is why the check engine light can come on and you should get your car checked as soon as it does.
Save money: Get your oil changed every 3,000 miles (some cars may be OK to reach every 7,500 miles). A $50 oil change every few months is much better than getting a $3,000 repair bill.
5. Suspension Repairs
How much? $3,500
When your suspension system is working, it’s a smooth ride in your car. It takes shocks, struts, springs, tie rods and control arms to keep that ride smooth. If you need replacement parts, you aren’t going to like it: up to $900 to replace your struts, the most expensive of the parts. If you need an entire suspension overhaul, the repair costs add up quite a bit.
Save money: Rotating your tires also keeps your suspension aligned. You should also regularly check that your tires have the right air pressure as driving on uneven tires can mess with your suspension too. If you notice your car pulling to one side of the road, that’s time to take it into a ship.
4. Airbag Replacement
How much? $4,000
Your airbags are there to protect you during an accident, and when they are deployed, they need to be replaced. If you are in an accident, insurance will cover this repair but if they go off without an accident, this cost will be on you, up to $4,000 as it could include replacing the parts that hold the airbags.
Save money: Wear your seat belt!
3. Transmission Replacement
How Much? $5,000
You’ve probably heard that replacing your transmission is one of the most costly repairs on a car – one that if needed to be done out of pocket may warrant trading the car in and getting a new one altogether. Your transmission is what makes your car drive and when it won’t drive, it’s a big uh-oh.
Save money: Again, routine car maintenance for all of the above works in line with your transmission. And when a mechanic or your vehicle’s manual suggests a transmission flush, do it. Sure, it will cost about $150 but it’s better than the alternative auto repair bill.
2. Hybrid Car Battery
How much? $6,000
While you’re working toward a better environment with a hybrid, your car repairs are typically higher, especially if you need a brand-new rechargeable battery. The batteries are expected to last up to 10 years but if it goes out, it, along with the car’s computer system, needs to be swapped out.
Save money: Coasting to a stop and slowly accelerating will both help extend the lifetime of your battery.
1. Engine Replacement
How much? $10,000
Your car cannot run without its engine or its cylinders. When the check engine light goes on, this is what we all hope is not the issue. The engine is a complex system and while we may not know how a car works, we do know the engine is important and the most expensive part of the vehicle. If your engine goes, dismantling the engine cylinders is tricky and labor-intensive – the expense may mean it’s time to get a new car.
Save money: All of the above!
The Bottom Line
Car insurance only covers these repairs if they are a result of a collision or as stated in your policy. The best way to save money on costly repairs is through routine maintenance.
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