As a car owner, there is no escaping from car repairs. Even brand new cars can require repairs if something goes wrong, you get into an accident, or a car part fails. Older cars or unmaintained cars have an even greater risk of parts failure.
Typically, car repairs can range anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. These costs can run up to tens of thousands of dollars if the car is a luxury or expensive model.
Let’s discuss some of the most expensive car repairs you may face during the lifespan of your car and what they typically cost on average.
Top 10 Most Expensive Car Repairs
There are plenty of moving parts in a car, and this means there are potentially thousands of points of failure. Below, we discuss some common ones that may cost you big bucks at the repair shops.
#1 Deployment of Airbags
If your airbags deploy after an accident, they must be replaced. And this is not cheap. Depending on the airbag design, you may need to replace the steering wheel and glove box if the airbags deploy.
This type of repair comes at a high cost starting from $2,500 at the bottom and running up to $5,000 for the most luxurious models like sport utility vehicles. Obviously, this is going to depend on the car and the labor cost in your area.
#2 Air Conditioner Compressor Failure
As with any air conditioning system, the air compressor plays an integral part. The refrigerant won’t pump through the system without the compressor and cool your car. Air conditioner compressor repairs and replacements start at $300 and go up to a “cool” $1,500.
The failure of your car’s air compressor might cause a slew of AC issues. You will also need to add new Freon gas to the complex system. An air compressor separates high and low-pressure air, allowing Freon to chill the automobile. This gas is what keeps your car cool and can cost anywhere between $100 to $200 to replace it.
#3 Catalytic Converter Replacement
If your catalytic converter gets contaminated, wears out, or isn’t working properly, your exhaust will pump toxic engine gases into the environment. While your car can function without this part, it is not good for the car or the environment.
Replacing a catalytic converter can cost you anywhere between $500 to $3,000, depending on the model of your car. Overall, catalytic converters are a very noble car component since it transforms harmful emissions into safe ones that don’t harm the environment.
#4 Suspension System Repairs
Multiple parts to your car’s suspension may fail separately and need repairs. It could be a ball joint, strut, or shock absorber that needs repairs, which is not too costly on its own. However, suspensions repairs typically occur at the same time.
For this reason, such repairs can range anywhere between $300 and $3,000, especially if you need a complete suspension overhaul. Moreover, once the suspension is repaired, there are typically additional costs to get your wheels aligned.
A proper working suspension system of a vehicle is generally made up of springs, struts, control arms, shocks, and tie rods. If just one component in the suspension system fails, it can cause a domino effect, damaging other parts as well.
This is why it’s important to maintain your car and get regular tune-ups. Catching a problem with the suspension early on can save you big bucks in repairs down the road.
#5 Head Gasket Leak/ Failure
Modern car engines rarely get this issue, but it is still common among older models or unmaintained engines. If your engine overheats frequently, it can easily cause a cylinder head gasket failure, which means there is a leak in the head gasket.
Repairing the head gasket is expensive and can cost you anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000. The head gasket seals the cylinders and keeps coolant and oil from leaking out. When the head gasket breaks, the engine quickly overheats.
If you have a blown head gasket, it will likely cause your engine to overheat or start leaking oil or coolant. This can also lead to major engine damage and to even further engine breakdown.
#6 Differential Repairs
The differential of a car or truck is a device with gears inside that splits the engine torque two ways, allowing each individual output to spin at a different speed. Different wheels spin at different speeds for turning and other maneuvers.
Differential maintenance like fluid change is important, especially in off-road vehicles or trucks that haul heavy loads. If it’s not maintained properly, repairs can range between $400 to $3,000, whereas replacements may cost up to $5,000.
Although, you could always replace your differential with a slightly used differential, which may cost half as much as a new one. Once the check engine light reports a problem with this car part, you’ll have to get it fixed as soon as possible.
#7 Transmission Failure
The transmission is one of your car’s most expensive and essential mechanical parts, second only to the engine. It is your gear shifter that converts engine power into usable torque. Many moving parts like the clutch plate and the actual gears make the gear shifter operable.
Transmission failure can be costly and often not worth repairing because the repairs may cost nearly as much as replacing the transmission. Be prepared to spend anywhere between $3,000 and $6,000 or more, depending on the model of your car.
Plus, the wheels on a vehicle are unable to turn without a proper functioning transmission. As you may know, a transmission is not a relatively cheap car part, and it can wear out due to the heat and friction that other moving and interacting components can generate.
#8 Entire Engine Failure
Unsurprisingly, the heart of your car is the most expensive part to repair or replace. Most modern engines do not fail easily, even after decades of use, as long as you maintain them properly. However, unmaintained engines can wear out or fail.
Typical car engines can cost anywhere between $4,000 and $8,000, depending on the model of your car. In contrast, expensive luxury or sports car engines may cost around $20,000. Just getting an engine installed in your car may cost between $1,500 and $3,000.
If your engine block or the engine cylinders have severe failure or damage, it’s very probable that the engine will have to be completely replaced. This type of engine damage involves cracks in the block or head, a warped cylinder head, or damaged main bearings.
#9 Brake line Car Repair
Most brake line repairs cost between $300 and $1000. The brake line is the tubing that runs from your master cylinder to each wheel, and as you can imagine, over time, they can develop leaks.
The most common symptom of a brake line leak is a soft brake pedal. This happens because the fluid level in your master cylinder reservoir drops as fluid leaks out.
If the leak is not repaired, eventually, all the fluid will leak out, and you will have no brakes. If the brake line that carries needed brake fluid blows or disintegrates, you may wind up spending a lot of money to replace the entire line.
#10 Hybrid Car Battery Replacement
Hybrid cars have a battery that needs to be regularly replaced, and depending on the model of your car, hybrid car batteries can cost between $2,000 and $6,000 to be replaced.
Not only is the initial cost of a hybrid battery replacement high, but the process of replacing it can also be time-consuming and difficult. Just know that if you own an electric car, you should have a few hundred dollars set aside specifically for battery replacements.
Notably hybrid vehicles have a battery warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles, so if your hybrid battery needs to be replaced within this time frame, it will likely be covered under warranty. Most people avoid getting these vehicles that operate on battery power because of the massive hidden costs associated with them.
Over time, any type of rechargeable battery slowly loses its capacity to hold a charge. Even if your hybrid battery is not covered under warranty, many carmakers offer a hybrid battery replacement discount to encourage drivers to keep their hybrid vehicles running smoothly.
What other common car repairs tend to be expensive?
Fuel pumps do exactly what the name suggests – they pump fuel to the engine. When your engine isn’t getting fuel to power your car, it is most likely a fuel pump issue. If your fuel pump is an in-tank variant, it could cost more than an external one.
While repairs are possible, people tend to replace a faulty fuel pump. Depending on its size, type, and placement, it may cost you anywhere between $250 to $800 or more.
Your car’s cooling system is vital to keeping your engine from overheating. If the cooling system is not functioning properly, your engine could overheat and seize up, which would be a very costly repair.
Changing your car’s computer system can be quite expensive, especially if your car is a newer model. It’s important to perform routine maintenance on your car’s computer system to avoid any costly auto repairs or replacements down the road.
Car paint jobs can be expensive, especially if you want your pretty decent new car to look like it just rolled off the showroom floor. Depending on the size and type of your car, a new paint job could cost you between $1,000 and $5,000.
Other non-expensive car repairs you need to quickly resolve to keep your car running properly include fuel pumps, fuel injectors, an engine belt, a broken air compressor, starter motors, and engine sensors. These repairs can cost you a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to fix.
While the mentioned car repairs are expensive, you can easily avoid them by taking good care of your car and maintaining it regularly, especially the vehicle’s engine and transmission. Things like motor oil and lubricant changes go a long way in maintaining your car.
If you suddenly face one of the most expensive car repairs and can’t pay out of pocket, you could find yourself without personal transportation. Of course, you could always find out more about applying for a cash loan to help pay for repairs, but you shouldn’t let it come to that and maintain your car regularly instead.
Before buying a vehicle, open your computer browser and internet device to look up the automotive history. Try to see if it has had poor maintenance, if it has been in any accidents, or if any of the parts have been replaced. Researching ahead of time could help you avoid buying a car that will end up costing you a lot of money in expensive car repairs.