Vehicle costs, including repairs, are the second largest expense behind housing for consumers in the U.S., according to Edmunds. While staying diligent about your car's maintenance should help lessen your chances of facing a large repair bill, it is no guarantee you won't find yourself dealing with a major issue.
Last year, the average cost of vehicle repairs increased by 10 percent, according to CNN Money. Everyone hopes for a minor problem — loose wire, worn hose — when taking a vehicle in for repair. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case and there are a few things you really don't want to hear your mechanic say.
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1. Seized Engine
Few car repairs are more painful than learning your engine has kicked the bucket and taken your bank account with it. A seized engine means your car's lubrication failed, either because there wasn't enough oil or oil pressure dropped dangerously low. When this fails, your engine becomes a melted metal mess. There is no remedy other than to replace it with a used or remanufactured engine, which will run about $3,000 and $10,000, respectfully.
Tip: Take your car's recommended oil service schedule seriously. Check oil level every time you fill up. If gauges warn of a drop in oil pressure, stop driving and address the problem immediately.
2. Overheated Engine
A lot of things can cause your vehicle to run hot, none of which should be ignored. Most are relatively inexpensive, like a stuck thermostat. The key is to get your car checked as soon as the instrument panel shows a rise in engine temperature. Let the problem go, and you'll be replacing the entire engine at a cost upwards of $10,000.
Tip: Monitor the instrument panel. At the first sign of your engine running hot, take your car in to be checked so repairs can be made before irreversible damage occurs.
3. Camshaft Failure
Not getting your oil changed on time can cause buildup on valves, the usual culprit behind camshaft failure. Replacing a camshaft is very labor-intensive, so the repair can run up to about $3,000.
Tip: Change your oil frequently and get your valves adjusted.
There are mobile apps available on both iOS and Android platforms that provide cost estimates for a given repair in your area as well as other maintenance information, making it easier to stay on top of your car's care. RepairPal is a free app available for both Android and iOS platforms. By inputting vehicle information, as well as the intended repair, you can access the typical repair cost. The app also provides information on pre-screened vehicle repair shops in your area. Another mobile app to consider is AutoMD Mobile. Features include repair cost estimates, how-to guides on repairs, and an ability to receive repair quotes from auto repair businesses in your area.
Before you buy a new or used car, research the maintenance estimates and use a comparison service, such as True Car, to make sure you are getting a fair price up front. Always check the Car Fax record for repair red flags and regular maintenance to ensure the least amount of problems.