Owning a car isn’t cheap by any means. In fact, it costs thousands per year for owners to keep their vehicles on the road. According to a report byUSA Today, citing facts from AAA Auto Club, the average sedan owner spends $10,000 per year to keep their car on the road (and that report is from 2013; so imagine what that cost might be like now).
One thing’s for sure: Cars are not cheap; they depreciate; and they require regular maintenance to stay roadworthy.
That said, there are some smart moves you can make as a car owner – or as a person who is considering purchasing a new or a used vehicle – that can help you reduce the cost of ownership and protect one of your most valuable assets while safeguarding your wallet against unexpected and often costly repairs.
What follows are some of the most expensive auto repairs you might encounter, and why you’re better served paying a small deductible from an extended auto warranty to have the problem fixed; as opposed to shelling out big bucks and dipping into your savings otherwise.
Read on to learn more.
1. Clutch Assembly Replacement
If you have a manual vehicle, you assuredly have a clutch. It’s a critical component that helps the shaft and driving mechanisms properly function, engage and disengage. Over time, these parts will eventually wear out and will need to be repaired or replaced.
When it comes to clutches, there isn’t really a way to reduce the amount of wear and tear they get, and most clutches are going to last anywhere from 36,000 to 60,000 miles give or take. Replacing and repairing a clutch is quite expensive, too, and it can’t really be done outside of an auto shop because you’ll require a lift and professional tools.
The cost of replacement is in the range of $1,030 and $1,385 – With the right extended auto warranty or repair services contract in place, though, you might be able to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses substantially. Depending on the condition of the clutch and the reason behind its failure, part or most of the repair cost could be covered, easily saving you hundreds.
2. Engine Control Module Replacement
An engine control module, also referred to as an ECM, helps your regulate air, energy, fuel and combustion. It works using an array of internal sensors that monitor your vehicle to ensure its operating in optimal conditions. ECMs are not cheap, and they can and do fail for many reasons.
The cost of replacement is in the range of $1,236 and $1,283. – The good news here is that most extended auto warranties offer ECM coverage. This means that you’d be out the average $200 deductible on the covered repair or replacement, easily saving you at least $1,000.
3. Alternator Replacement
If you try to start your car and you hear a clicking sound but the engine won’t turn over, it’s usually due to a bad alternator or battery. If it’s your alternator, you are looking at a very costly repair. When the alternator goes out, your car’s electrical system is unable to function.
Experts say that alternators die between 50,000 and 100,000 miles on average. It’s an expensive part that’s made even more expensive due to the costly shop hours involved in repairing or replacing it.
The cost of replacement is in the range of $401 and $802. – Almost every extended auto warranty covers an alternator, with varying coverages being offered. In most cases, you’d only be out a few hundred bucks on the repair as opposed to double, triple or quadruple that amount.
4. Fuel Injector Replacement
Fuel injectors help regulate fuel delivery to the combustion chambers in your car’s engine. They literally inject the fuel by “injecting” a fine mist into the engine for optimal air-fuel mixture ratios and combustion.
Fuel injectors need to deliver the right amount of fuel at the right time for your engine to run properly. When they go bad, the replacement can eat you out of house and home.
The cost of replacement is in the range of $814 and $1,329. – These are one of the most commonly covered parts in extended auto warranties. Having the right warranty would see all or most costs of replacement or repair covered.
5. Head Gasket Replacement
The engine’s head gasket helps protect the cylinders by sealing them and preventing oil and coolant leaks. When they go bad, it can result in engine failure, ruptured cylinders and overheating.
While gasket heads are not overly costly, repairing them is lengthy process that eats up shop hours and can cost you a small fortune.
The cost of replacement can vary from $1,107 to $1,396. – An extended auto warranty commonly covers gasket replacements with little out of pocket cost.
6. Radiator Replacement
Radiators help keep your engine from overheating. When they go bad, it usually stems from a leak, a bad hose or a defective unit. Sometimes, they just wear out. The result is horrifying: Radiator fluid (antifreeze) leaks all over the hoses and engine, melting components and causing damage.
When a radiator fails, often other nearby components need to be replaced as well due to the damage.
The cost of replacement is in the range of $593 and $720. – The right extended auto warranty assuredly covers radiator replacement but has binding terms that typically mandate you show proof that you’ve complied with regular coolant flushes.
7. Starter Replacement
A starter is one of the most commonly replaced auto parts. When they go bad, you hear a strange whirring noise and your engine won’t turn over. Sometimes you just hear clicks.
In many cases, it may just be a bad battery. But if it’s your starter, be prepared to write a handsome check to the mechanic.
The cost of replacement can vary from $376 to $837. – Extended auto warranties almost always cover starter replacement and repair with minimal out of pocket cost to you.
The Final Scoop
These are but seven of the most common and expensive auto repairs that you will encounter over the lifetime of vehicle ownership. They can easily cost you a ton of money that could have otherwise been put to better use. So, do yourself a favor and research your options with an extended warranty plan beforehand. It could save you from a financial headache in the future.