It’s a fact: cars are expensive to own. In 2013, Americans spent an average of $750 annually on car maintenance, and even a small sedan will cost you an average of $9,122 over its lifespan. However, 27% of Americans report being unhappy with repair services they’ve received from a mechanic, with most of them being dissatisfied with costs, followed by those who said problems were incorrectly repaired or that the repairs didn’t last. Unnecessary auto repair is consistently ranked highly among causes for consumer complaints, but what can Americans do to save money on car maintenance?
The most common auto repairs are for engine problems, tires and rims, timing belts, tire pressure monitoring systems, brakes, and suspension. Your engine is the most important part of your car, so it makes sense that it requires the most repairs. Typically, tires have a 2-4 year lifespan, but that can be cut short by poor road quality. Timing belts are fairly inexpensive, but they require intensive (read: expensive) labor.
While these are the most common car repairs, they’re not always the most expensive car repairs. That honor belongs to a blown motor, which can cost up to $4,000 to repair, and transmission replacement, which can cost between $1,800 and $3,500. A head gasket costs between $1,200 and $1,600 to repair, and your air conditioning compressor costs between $200 and $600 to replace, plus additional service costs.
Avoid common scams (like a low verbal estimate followed by a higher final charge or charging for services advertised as free) by using mechanics recommended by friends and family and endorsed by AAA. Ask questions to educate yourself about what your repairs are exactly, and get a written estimate for repairs and costs. Pay in full only after the agreed-upon repairs have been completed, and help trustworthy mechanics stay in business by recommending them to your family and friends.