Automotive Repair Prices You Must Budget Into Owning a Car
If you own a car, you should add auto repair prices and maintenance costs into your monthly budget. Regular maintenance can help extend the life of your car and protect your vehicle from unexpected breakdowns. But, in addition to oil changes and tire rotations, there are also a few standard things that will need to be replaced or repaired quite regularly due to the wear and tear caused by normal use.
As a starting point, you should budget at least $100 a month to cover typical maintenance expenses and small repairs, although $150 per month will help you be even more prepared, especially if you have an older vehicle.
Owning a car can consume a large part of your income. In fact, for most American families, transportation costs are the second largest monthly expense. Besides the vehicle price or payment, you must also consider insurance premiums, fuel, and licencing. But, most people forget to include maintenance and auto repair costs in their calculations. Consequently, they are financially unprepared to cover these expenses when they occur.
It is not just the price of the car that you need to figure into your budget when determining if you can afford a vehicle, but you must also think about repairs and maintenance. Keep in mind that some higher-end vehicles tend to be more expensive to repair.
Cost of Typical Repairs and Maintenance:
Oil Change: Since an oil change is recommended every 3,000 to 10,000 miles this expense will make a regular appearance in your car maintenance budget. Depending on your vehicle make and model, where you have the work done and what type of oil you use, you can expect to pay between $20-$50.
Tires: Rotating your vehicle's tires regularly will help them last longer. And, it is fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to the price of new tires. Typically, tire rotations will be included when you purchase new tires. If not, the cost should be somewhere between $20-$30 dollars, with this fee including balancing.
Tire repairs or patches are not very expensive, however, if the tire needs to be replaced, your bill will be considerably higher. An all-season tire typically costs between $35-$80, but can climb well over $200 for higher-end vehicles, larger cars and trucks.
Brakes: While there are a few things that you can do to extend the life of your brakes, it is inevitable that they will eventually need to be replaced. Worn pads or shoes are about $75-$100 to change per axel. You may be tempted to put this expense off as long as possible, but waiting too long can cause damage to the drums or rotors, which will add up to several hundred dollars in replacement costs.
Air Filter. Many mechanics will encourage you to change your air filter more often than needed, but a plugged or dirty filter can cause the engine to run poorly and also reduce fuel economy. When you notice that it needs to be replaced, you can expect to pay $20-$40 for a new air filter. In between replacements, it's a good idea to just clean it by knocking the filter against a solid object.
Fuel Filter: It is recommended that you change the fuel filter at least once a year to keep the engine running efficiently. While the filter itself is about $10-$20, if you need the help of a mechanic, expect to pay as much as $60 with labor costs.
Battery: Another common repair is battery replacement, although price can vary depending on brand name and type of vehicle. Cost will range from a fairly inexpensive $45 to as much as $150.
Spark Plugs and Wires: A rough running or misfiring engine, poor fuel economy, loss of power, and hesitancy starting can all be an indication that you need to replace your plugs and/or wires. Depending on the cost of parts and labor, this can run anywhere from $100 to $300.
Wiper Blades: This is one of those smaller repairs that you don't really consider until they stop working properly. Since they are absolutely essential to safe driving, they must be replaced regularly. A good set of wipers can cost as much as $50, but it is worth the investment. To extend the life of the wiper blades, be sure to clean the rubber blade with soapy water occasionally.
Exhaust: An exhaust system is costly to repair, especially since most people are unable to do this work themselves. For basic parts, you will pay approximately $50 for a muffler and tailpipe, about $120 for an exhaust pipe, $270 for a manifold, and $350 for a catalytic converter. Add $60-$75 per hour for shop rates, and your bill can add up to over $1000. Although the entire exhaust system doesn't usually need to be replaced at the same time, it is still good to be prepared for this expense.
Lights: Depending on the type, a headlight lamp will be priced from as low as $7 to as much as $40. Taillight bulbs are typically $5-$10. Add labor cost at $60 to $75 per hour for shop rates.
Fluids: Again, basic fluids are some of those little things that you don't really think about, but they can add up. A jug of window washer fluid is anywhere from $2-$5, coolant will cost about $15, a bottle of brake fluid about $10, and a quart of oil will be approximately $3.
The everyday costs of owning a car can be high, even without calculating in the expense of unexpected major repairs. While an extended warranty or mechanical breakdown protection will not cover consumable wear items such as the ones listed above or preventative maintenance, it will give you peace of mind when something major happens. For example, an air conditioning problem can cost you $1,600 to $2,200. Trouble with the fuel pump is another common issue, and depending on your car, you can expect this to be about $800 to $1000. A transmission replacement can range between $1,700 and $3,100 depending upon your vehicle year/make/model. An engine replacement can cost between $6,000 and $17,000.
Protect yourself with autoPOM! autoPOM!'s Platinum Mechanical Breakdown Protection plans cover virtually all your vehicle's mechanical and electrical components. In the event of a roadside auto breakdown, having mechanical breakdown protection (commonly called an extended warranty) can really help. All autoPOM! extended breakdown coverage plans come with roadside assistance including towing, lost key/lock-out services, emergency fuel service, etc. In the event of a breakdown, all you have to do is make one phone call, and Mercury (autoPOM!'s administrator and underwriter) will take care of all the details. If your vehicle requires an extended stay in the shop, Mercury will even provide rental car assistance. . Mechanical failures are never enjoyable, but when you have mechanical breakdown protection, the only thing you will have to worry about is making sure you have the phone number when you need it. The peace of mind knowing that everything will be taken care of is worth the investment and will take the stress out of roadside breakdowns.
Insuring, licencing, and maintaining your car will put enough strain on your budget, so eliminate the worry of major vehicle repair costs by purchasing an extended warranty today.