Planning for Car Repair Costs

Review 10 common car repairs and what you should expect to pay

Regular car maintenance and tune-ups are some of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to keep mechanical costs down - but even well-maintained vehicles need occasional repair. To avoid letting those automotive fixes take you by surprise, prepare by setting aside a budget for car repair costs. Below are 10 of the most common car repairs you'll encounter:

  1. Oxygen sensor - The oxygen sensor monitors the amount of oxygen in a car's exhaust, and can be damaged by an internal leak or by using fuel with a high concentration of ethanol. A malfunctioning oxygen sensor can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 40 percent.

    Estimated cost: $200-300

  2. Flat or bald tire - Depending on the damage, flat tires can sometimes be patched by a mechanic, but bald tires should be replaced with new ones to ensure good traction in rainy or snowy weather. Tire wear will depend on how you drive and how often, but generally you'll need to replace tires every five years or so. If possible, you should replace all the tires at once so they wear evenly.

    Estimated cost: $80-150 per new tire

  3. Catalytic converter - The catalytic converter reduces the toxins in your vehicle's emissions. This repair is generally avoidable, since it usually only occurs when other components fail and are not repaired in a timely manner.

    Estimated cost: $1,100

  4. Spark plugs and wires - Replacing spark plugs is a relatively easy and cost-effective repair that car owners can often do themselves. Faulty spark plugs should be replaced immediately since they can damage the catalytic converter or cause the engine to misfire. Spark plug wires should be visually checked at least once a year and replaced if signs of cracking or fraying are present.

    Estimated cost: $350

  5. Mass air flow sensor - This sensor measures the air in the combustion chamber and determines how much fuel to inject. A malfunctioning sensor can reduce fuel efficiency by 10 to 25 percent.

    Estimated cost: $400-500

  6. Ignition coil - The ignition coil wears out due to high engine temperatures over an extended period of time. If your mechanic suggests you replace the coil, don't wait - ignoring the problem could damage the catalytic converter.

    Estimated cost: $200-300

  7. Brake pads - Brakes are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment on your vehicle. Replace pads as often as recommended by your mechanic, when your brake pedal resistance softens or if you hear the sound of grinding metal when you apply the brakes.

    Estimated cost: $300-400

  8. Car battery and charging system - Batteries should typically be replaced every three to five years, but extreme temperature changes can shorten the overall life of a battery. Check the date listed on the battery and look for symptoms that it's wearing down (dim lights, trouble starting, cracked or corroded outer case) to know when to replace it.

    Estimated cost: $100

  9. Exhaust gas recirculation valve - The exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve's purpose is to help your car burn fuel more effectively, and it also reduces the amount of fuel vapors released into the atmosphere. Cars with an EGR valve problem may experience rough idling, misfires and reduced fuel efficiency.

    Estimated cost: $300-400

  10. Vacuum hose - The vacuum hose helps relay the condition of the engine to calibrate the car's fuel injectors. This hose can crack over time due to the fluctuating temperature under the hood. If it malfunctions, it could cause engine damage.

    Estimated cost: $100-200
  11. Diagnosing common car repairs

    Luckily, it takes some time for natural wear and tear to damage your car's parts, which gives you plenty of time to save up the funds needed to cover the cost. Most of these issues will be signaled by the car's check engine light or other warning lights, and your mechanic's diagnostic equipment should be able to identify the specific problem. If you notice a light on, take a look at your owner's manual and schedule an appointment for the repairs to be made. Some of these repairs can also be caught or prevented by early detection. So, consider taking your car in for a quick checkup every so often (perhaps when you get your oil changed).

    Budgeting for the cost of common car repairs

    Since the repairs listed above range in cost from several hundred to over a thousand dollars, it's a good idea to have substantial savings set aside in case of a vehicle repair emergency. Open a savings account with Citizens Bank specifically to deal with these repairs so that the funds are not allocated elsewhere. This can also be helpful if you need funds to cover your deductible in an accident. With your Citizens Bank savings account, you can expect the unexpected and prepare for the cost of common car repairs.


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