Even the most savvy of savers and the most frugal budget-conscious individuals can be thrown off balance when they get that dreaded car repair bill. Few things are worse for your budget than a call from your auto mechanic during a routine oil change. The second their number appears on your cell phone, panic sets in. Why are they calling? My car can’t be done yet! Regardless of how cautiously you answer that call, or how delicate your voice sounds to the person on the other end – the reality is not going to change. Your car needs an expensive repair, with expensive auto parts. Albany, NY residents from miles away can sense your stress, and you can audibly hear money draining out of your savings account.
This situation may be a hypothetical one, but it is not unheard of. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people receive that call on a daily basis. The extensive auto repair needed is unavoidable at this point in time, and there is nothing that can be done to change that. Hindsight is 20/20, so rather than wait for the number to show up on your caller ID, there are steps you can take to help keep your car healthy, and your bank account full.
The 5 Most Expensive Auto Repairs
If you are familiar with the scene depicted above, then you already realize the importance of keeping up with regularly scheduled maintenance on your vehicle. Whether you had to learn that lesson the easy way, or the hard way, it is important to know what your vehicle may end up costing you over the life of ownership. Take a look at some of the most expensive auto repairs, and how to avoid them, by exploring below.
- Replacing the Engine and Cylinders – Without a properly functioning engine, your car is nothing more than a fancy formation of metal and plastic. If your mechanic calls to inform you that the engine’s cylinders need to be replaced, you can expect a bill upwards of $10,000. In order to replace old cylinders, the entire engine block will need to be extracted from underneath the hood, and put back in place. If your car is out of a warranty, you may not be entirely out of luck. Look into replacing the engine altogether, or consider the possibility of purchasing a new car. Either way, this is a bill no one wants to be on the receiving end of – ever.
- Replacing a Hybrid Car Battery – Hybrid cars can save drivers a ton of money at the pump, but the repairs necessary on hybrid vehicles can end up costing a lot more. A faulty hybrid car battery can end up costing as much as $6,000. It is estimated that the rechargeable battery in the average hybrid will need to be replaced every ten years. Replacing the battery almost always means replacing the vehicle’s computer system simultaneously, which quickly adds up.
- Transmission – Flushing out and replacing transmission fluid can cost drivers a few hundred dollars, and is a regularly scheduled maintenance that often gets ignored. Drivers who choose not to keep their transmission in proper working order, can end up having to replace the transmission for upwards of $5,000. A vehicle’s transmission is composed of many moving parts, that can wreak havoc on a car very quickly when it is neglected. A burning smell and a humming noise when the car is in park can be signs that your transmission needs work. The sooner you recognize the signs and bring it in, the less expensive the repair will likely cost.
- Airbag Replacement – Airbags are one of the oldest and most effective safety devices in your car. They are so integral to saving lives, that automotive manufacturers are required by law to include them in all of their models. If your vehicle is involved in a collision where the airbags deploy, those airbags will need to be replaced. Replacing the airbag system in your vehicle can cost as much as $4,000, but is a necessary repair for the future safety of yourself and your passengers.
- Suspension – The suspension literally holds your vehicle together. It keeps harsh road conditions outside where they belong, and allows passengers to feel comfort even on the most rugged pavement. A suspension is comprised of struts, shocks, tie rods, springs, and control arms, all of which need to be in proper working order for maximum performance. If one of these components breaks, the cost is minimal. If the entire system needs an overhaul, expect a bill for up to $3,500. As with any major auto repair, be sure to get a second opinion before shelling out the cash. Some shady mechanics will recommend a complete suspension replacement, when only one part actually needs to be replaced.
Do Your Homework
As a general rule of thumb, it is good practice to get a second opinion for any car repair over $500. While parts and systems may actually need to be replaced, some shops might try to get the most out of your wallet by overcharging for service. One shop may charge for three hours of service time, while another might be able to bill it in just one. If it isn’t an emergency, and your car is still road ready, take the time to get a second opinion. If the mechanic in question is indeed overcharging for their services, they will likely go down in their estimate when you turn to walk out the door.
Bottom line? You work hard for your money, and it is important to be proactive about who you give it to, and for what purposes. Take care of your vehicle by following the regularly scheduled maintenance calendar outlined in your owner’s manual. If you hear a strange noise or feel something “off” when driving, always head to your trusted mechanic to diagnose the problem. The sooner it is found, the less the repair is likely to cost.
Every vehicle on the road will encounter maintenance issues at some point in its life. Planning for the unknown and setting money aside for when these problems arise, can minimize panic and help secure your car’s future.