How Much to Expect: Average Car Repair Costs

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Average Car Repair Costs

Figuring out how much a car repair will cost is not always an easy estimate — the cost depends on what part of the vehicle is broken. Your car insurance may help in some cases but not all. Read on to learn more about average car repair costs depending on your specific situation. 

What is the average cost of car repairs?

The average cost of car repairs is rising, so you may get a higher bill from the auto shop than you’re used to. In broad terms, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for small repairs and a few thousand for larger ones.

Common car repair costs

Certain devices, hardware, and functional items within the car wear down over time. Repairs are also often needed after accidents, whether they’re fender-benders or major crashes. 

1. Engine 

Even if you change your oil religiously, your engine will still wear down over time. In some cases, you may only need to replace part of the engine like the radiator. That would cost you around $700. If you need to replace the entire engine, you could spend around $4,000 for a four-cylinder. A high-performance engine costs $10,000 or more to replace. 

2. Transmission

The transmission is another big-ticket item when it comes to cars. The transmission makes sure enough power goes to the wheels to get the car to your desired speed. If it starts going bad, you’ll notice your RPMs going up; if it breaks, your car won’t move at all. At that point, you can expect to shell out between around $3,000 and $7,000. 

3. Brake pads

Brake pads are expected to last around 70,000 miles. They create the friction that stops your car, so they aren’t something you can go without. Between parts and labor, you can expect to pay between $115 and $270 for each of the four axles when getting a brake pad replacement. 

4. Alternator

Your car’s alternator charges the car’s battery and delivers power to the electrical system. It’s on the lower end in terms of repair costs, and replacing it will run you around $800

5. Suspension

How well your car steers and handles depends on the functionality of the suspension. There are several components within the suspension, like the shock absorbers. Repairing one small part will be much more affordable than getting the whole mechanism replaced. All in all, you can expect to spend between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on what type of work you need to have done. 

6. Electrical

Nearly all of your car’s ability to function hinges on its electrical systems working properly. Whether you have a bad battery or a loose spark plug, plenty of issues can disable a car. Most electrical issues are minor and will cost only a few hundred dollars to fix, but more major hiccups like wiring problems will cost closer to $3,000

7. Air conditioning

A lack of refrigerant, a damaged evaporator, a broken compressor, or a failed fuse switch — those are just a few of the things that can lead your car’s AC to need repairs. Fortunately, these fixes run on the lower end in terms of cost. You can expect to pay around $400 to fix your car’s air conditioning. 

8. Catalytic converter

Catalytic converters keep cars efficient and filter out harmful byproducts. Although the car can technically run without this piece, it doesn’t run well. Replacing this item can cost as much as $2,500

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Factors affecting car repair costs

When it comes to auto repairs, it’s tough to give an exact figure for how much you can expect to pay for a given problem. That’s because there are a number of factors that affect how much your repair will cost. 

1. Age of the car

The age of the car makes a difference in repair costs. If your vehicle is older, some of the parts the mechanic needs may no longer be made anymore. On the other hand, if your car is brand new, the parts may be pricey or hard to get because they’re in high demand. 

2. The severity of the damage or problem

Some issues need fixing, and some need to be replaced outright. The severity of the damage to any part of a car will affect how much it costs to fix. 

3. Location of the auto repair facility

Places with an overall high cost of living will typically also charge more for auto repairs. If you live in a major city, you may be better off going out of town for repairs, as long as you have another ride home or can wait at the shop while the work is completed. 

4. Labor rates of the repair shop

When you get work done on your car, you’re paying for parts and labor. The amount the auto shop dictates for its labor cost will have a major impact on your total bill. 

Ways to save on car repair costs

No one looks forward to car repairs. Auto issues can put a huge dent in your checking account and can be a major hassle as you look for alternate modes of transportation while your vehicle is getting worked on. Here are a few ideas on how to save money on repair costs.

1. Create a budget 

It’s a good idea to save up some money just in case you have an issue with your car. The American Automobile Association recommends you set aside $50 a month for car repairs. That way, when a big auto bill does come, you aren’t losing too much money out of your regular paycheck. 

2. Shop around for repair shops

Some repair shops may have deals and discount offers available. Some may charge less. Make sure to shop around before committing to one mechanic. 

3. Negotiate repair costs 

Haggling never hurt anyone! See if you can save money by getting the parts yourself and paying for repairs separately, so the auto repair shop doesn’t upcharge you for the parts. Get quotes from competitors and see if others will match or beat it. Or, just say outright that the cost is too high for you and see if the repair shop will work with you to reach a better price.

4. Perform minor repairs at home

A lot of what you pay for at a repair shop is the cost of labor. Parts on their own are often pretty cheap. If you can handle a small auto repair on your own, you can save money by doing so. Maintenance like getting a motor oil change, replacing headlights or tail lights, jumpstarting the car, and changing your tires may be things you can tackle yourself. 

5. Do regular maintenance 

Your car maintenance checklist should include regularly changing out your motor oil, coolant, and air filters. Make sure your tires are inflated properly and rotate and align those tires every once in a while. Doing all that will preserve the life of your car’s components so that they don’t break down as quickly and lead to more costly repairs. 

Average Car Repair Costs and How to Protect Yourself

Vehicle work may cost in the hundreds or in the thousands, depending on what you need to have done. Just keep in mind that regular maintenance will stave off the need for bigger repairs, and some minor repairs you can handle on your own. Shop around before committing to a mechanic, and see if you can haggle the price before signing the paperwork.


Are there any car repairs that can be done for free or at a lower cost?

Your insurance policy may cover your repairs entirely. If you don’t have insurance and you can’t afford to pay for repairs, check for local charities that might cover the bill for you.

How much does it cost to repair a car after an accident?

The cost of your repairs will depend on the extent of the damage. Small repairs might only cost a couple of hundred dollars, whereas big fixes due to damage to the car’s frame or engine might cost several thousand. 

How long does a car repair usually last?

Depending on what you’re getting fixed, car repairs should last you several years. All car parts eventually wear out, so if you get a new part, it’ll deteriorate in time. New brake pads, for instance, should last you 70,000 miles or so, but new windshield wipers will only last about a year

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