5 Most Common Car Repair and Maintenance Services, Including the Most Expensive
Regular car maintenance is essential to keep your vehicle running smoothly and prevent costly repairs. With the prices of new cars higher than ever, it’s helpful to know what you’ll be paying for beforehand. No one wants repairs to sneak up on them. Therefore, review five of the most common car repair and maintenance services.
1. Oil change: $30-$150
Oil changes are crucial to routine car maintenance, replacing the engine’s lubricant to reduce friction and prevent wear and tear. Over time, the oil will become littered with nearly-microscopic metal shavings and lose its ability to lubricate effectively. Also, if a car sits for a while without starting, the oil can break down, which can also cause damage to your engine.
Changing the oil is typically recommended every 5,000 miles, but your owner’s manual will include the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some vehicles may require specialty fluids or more frequent oil changes, such as those used for heavy-duty purposes or high-performance vehicles. The service will also depend heavily on driving habits.
2. New tires: $50-$200
Much like oil changes, vehicles require scheduled maintenance with tires. Manufacturer recommendations will dictate the frequency, but rotations should occur at least every 10,000 miles. The most apparent sign that tire rotation is needed occurs when the tread wears unevenly.
You can perform the job in your driveway with a lug wrench and a few jack stands. However, you may not know what to look for if axle or brake assembly components may need replacing. At a shop, Mechanic Base says a simple rotation shouldn’t be more than $50. A patch or a plug to fix one will typically be under that threshold, too.
Smaller ones on subcompact cars shouldn’t be more than $100 per tire if new ones are needed. For larger trucks and SUVs, however, it’s usually twice as much. And if you’re replacing summer-only high-performance tires, expect to pay even more.
3. Car battery replacement: $50-$250
A car battery is one of the most essential components of a vehicle. Over the years, car batteries can lose their ability to hold a charge and may need to be replaced. Some signs that you may need a new battery include difficulty starting the engine, dimming headlights, and a slow or weak electrical system. But luckily, this is the easiest car maintenance service most can do themselves.
Lead-acid batteries are the most common car battery, boasting affordability and reliability. They use a chemical reaction with lead plates and sulfuric acid to produce electricity and require “topping off” with distilled water. Nevertheless, there are other types of car batteries, as AutoZone explains:
- Valve-regulated: a sealed version of a lead-acid battery that doesn’t require maintenance.
- Dry cell: uses a glass mesh to absorb internal electrolytes, reducing potential spillage.
- Gel cell: easier to keep stable in extreme environments and over rough terrain.
- Deep cycle: standard in recreational activities, these batteries have more robust and sustaining power.
Replacing car batteries is easy with a few hand tools and gloves. But be sure to turn off the vehicle and disconnect the negative terminal first.
4. Cracked windshield: $200-$1,000
If you’ve had a chip in your windshield after a truck kicked up a rock, you may think to leave it. Even if you fill them in with resin, if the crack is too large or in a critical area—the edge of the windshield—it must be replaced. Moreover, states often have laws requiring a car to have a windshield free of obstructions.
Windshield cracks can usually be repaired for between $200 and $400. Fortunately, you’ll likely be able to have someone come to your home or place of business and fix it on-site. Even if all the glass must be replaced, technicians will bring the repairs to you. But if that happens, expect to pay nearly $1,000.
5. Bumper repair: $800-$2,000
Bumpers serve the purpose of having an extended contact point to ensure internal components are kept free of impact. However, when they’re scratched and dented from years of living in a downtown area or after a light fender bender, it’s good to get them fixed.
Steel bumpers are standard on the rear ends of pickup trucks, but others will use a combination of materials like plastics. Therefore, hammering out a dent isn’t an option. As well, bumpers on modern vehicles often include an array of sensors and cameras, which may need to be replaced, too.
Vehicle owners could mitigate costs by sourcing a bumper from a wrecked car at a local junkyard. It’s a good idea for those needing replacement parts for older cars and those with trim levels that don’t have safety or parking sensors in the bumpers. Otherwise, the bumper, cameras, sensors, and labor could run into the thousands.
How much do cars cost per mile?
In 2022, the American Automotive Association (AAA) found that for the first time, the annual average cost to own and operate a new car exceeded $10,000. With the average MSRP of a new vehicle rising to $33,301, yearly costs were calculated at $10,728 annually over the first five years. The following is AAA’s breakdown calculated over five years and 75,000 miles:
- Depreciation: $3,656 per year
- Insurance: $1,588 per year
- Registration, taxes, and fees: $675 per year
- Interest: $658 per year
- Fuel: 17.99¢ per mile
- Maintenance and repairs: 9.68¢ per mile
The above figures are an average across the range of on-road vehicles. But a small cars couldn’t be more expensive to keep up than a light-duty pickup truck, right? AAA also broke down the costs per mile per segment:
|Compact sedan||54.56¢ per mile|
|Midsize sedan||69.01¢ per mile|
|Subcompact SUV||61.64¢ per mile|
|Compact SUV||62.17¢ per mile|
|Midsize SUV||75.37¢ per mile|
|Midsize pickup truck||70.25¢ per mile|
|Half-ton pickup truck||86.21¢ per mile|
|Hybrid||64.61¢ per mile|
|Electric||60.32¢ per mile|
One of the reasons why hybrid and electric cars have lower costs of ownership is because of fewer moving parts. The vehicles also have far fewer fluids that need to be maintained. Nevertheless, the average is over the first five years of a new car’s life. Factoring in major battery servicing or replacement won’t occur until much later in the hybrid or EV’s life.
What car repair and maintenance service is the most expensive?
One of the priciest components of a vehicle is something most owners never even see. But when it needs to be replaced, one can often hear the issue.
Catalytic converters employ a ceramic honeycomb structure coated with catalysts like platinum, palladium, and rhodium to convert harmful exhaust emissions. Gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other hydrocarbons enter the catalytic converter and exit as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor. Over time, they can become clogged or damaged, which can cause a variety of problems, such as reduced engine performance, decreased fuel efficiency, and even engine failure. But they are a common target for midnight thieves for their valuable Rare earth metals.
In 2021, the most common repair supported by a check engine light was a catalytic converter replacement. The Zebra reports the average hit to a customer’s wallet was $1,355. Be aware of the exhaust setup on your car in preparation for replacements. While all cars have at least one catalytic converter, some vehicles—like the Nissan Titan—have four.