Some car repairs are affordable and expected, while others can come as a surprise and take a huge chunk out of your budget. Familiarize yourself with the cost of common expensive car repairs to plan (and budget!) for them ahead of time.
According to GuardTree’s team of claims experts, some of the most common expensive car repairs are:
- Door latch replacement ($260)
- Window motor replacement ($300)
- Thermostat replacement ($350 - $600)
- Wheel bearing replacement ($400)
- Starter motor replacement ($400)
- Control arm replacement ($500)
- Alternator replacement ($650)
- Water pump replacement ($1005)
- Rack and pinion replacement ($1600)
- Transmission replacement ($3,000 - $10,000)
- Engine block replacement ($5,000 - $15,000)
Note that these prices are ballpark estimates only. The final price you pay will depend on several factors, such as your car’s make, age, condition, and the mechanic you work with to get it fixed.
Let’s take a closer look at when each of these expensive car repairs are likely to arise.
1. Door latch replacement ($260)
Door latches are some of the most durable parts of a car. So it’s common to find older cars with their original door latches intact.
Replacing a door latch won’t cost you much. We recommend that you have this replacement done by a professional unless you have the expertise.
2. Window motor replacement ($300)
Window motors move the car windows up and down. Thankfully, they’re pretty hardy and usually work for years before they need to be replaced.
If you notice a lag in your window system, it may be time to replace the window motors. This repair should cost you around $300, but the price could be a lot higher for luxury vehicles.
3. Thermostat replacement ($350 - $600)
The thermostat controls a car engine’s cooling system. If the temperature gauge on your car reads too high or too low, chances are that your car’s thermostat needs to be replaced.
A thermostat costs around $350 to $600 to replace, depending on the car’s model. Thermostat damage can cause lasting engine damage, so get it replaced ASAP.
4. Wheel bearing replacement ($400)
How much you drive and the terrain you drive on will impact how often your car’s wheel bearings need replacing. Wheel bearings cost about $265 to replace, and they’re among the most common car repairs—especially in rural areas.
Unfortunately, replacing wheel bearings may also require you to align your tires, which can add to this repair cost.
5. Starter motor replacement ($400)
The starter motor ignites the engine after you’ve turned it on; it receives an electric current from the battery and cranks your motor. Starter failure is one of the most common causes of car breakdowns, and it typically means you can’t go anywhere with your car.
You’re more likely to encounter this repair if you’re driving an older used vehicle. Starter motors in new vehicles can generally rack up plenty of mileage before they need to be replaced.
A new starter will set you back around $400. Again, pricing may increase or decrease depending on the car model.
6. Control arm replacement ($500)
The control arms form part of a car’s suspension. They are a safety part and can lead to premature wear, so they need to be replaced as soon as they wear out.
Control arm replacement will set you back $500. The cost is higher for pickups, SUVs, and luxury models, as these vehicles use double-wishbone suspension.
7. Alternator replacement ($650)
The alternator runs the electrics in your car. It converts the mechanical movement of the crankshaft into electrical energy that’s crucial to your car’s performance.
Although alternator failure presents gradually, it can be diagnosed early. For example, if you notice dimming or flashing headlights, or the occasional failure of electrical components (e.g. power windows), chances are your alternator has started failing.
An alternator will cost you around $650 to replace. It’s best to leave this repair to a qualified mechanic, as it’s easy to damage other crucial engine components during this repair.
8. Water pump replacement ($1,005)
The water pump is part of the cooling system that circulates water to cool your engine. Diagnosing a malfunctioning water pump is all about observation. If your car has started overheating regularly, or the overflow container has orange residue, there’s a strong chance that your water pump needs replacement. Check for visible signs of coolant leakage under your car.
Deal with this repair immediately, as a broken water pump can cause further damage to your vehicle.
The average repair costs for water pump replacement is around $1,005.
However, a water pump’s cost depends on its design. And you might have to dig deeper into your pocket, depending on the pump’s location; labor costs increase when technicians can’t access the pump easily.
9. Rack and pinion replacement ($1,600)
Stiff steering might point to a rack and pinion that needs replacement. However, rack and pinion damage usually results from wear and tear.
Rack and pinion replacement will cost you about $1,600. As always, repair costs tend to be higher in luxury cars that have steering sensors.
10. Transmission replacement ($3,000 - $10,000)
The transmission converts engine power to kinetic energy that turns a car’s wheels. Without a functioning transmission, your car won’t go anywhere.
A car’s transmission usually takes time to wear down, but poor maintenance can accelerate the wear rate. Always ensure that your car has enough transmission fluid. And replace the transmission fluid as per the guidelines in your vehicle’s user manual.
Signs of a deteriorating transmission include strange smells and slipping gears. Take your car to a mechanic as soon as you suspect a problem with the transmission. The earlier you diagnose the problem, the cheaper the repair job will likely be. But a minor problem could worsen quickly if you let the issue fester.
Transmission repair costs range from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the car’s model and the extent of the damage.
11. Engine block replacement ($5,000 - $15,000)
You don’t need to know a lot about cars to know that engine damage is quite expensive to repair. The engine is a car’s beating heart. Without it, your car is just a shell.
This is why engine repair is quite costly. For example, engine block replacement usually costs somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000. Thankfully, most engine failures are preventable.
First, ensure that you take your car for scheduled maintenance as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. Staying on top of general maintenance can help to prevent major problems like a seized engine.
Second, fix any engine problems that pop up as soon as you can, no matter how minor they seem. Small engine problems can turn into bigger (and more expensive!) problems much sooner than you think.
Protect yourself from surprise breakdown costs with a GuardTree used car warranty
Although most extended warranty providers won’t cover the cost of routine maintenance, a good extended car warranty will protect you from the cost of more damaging and expensive repairs.
At GuardTree, we’re proud to say that our extended used car warranty covers all powertrain parts. The repair and breakdown costs covered include parts and labour, as well as additional benefits like roadside assistance, car rental, and trip interruption costs.
GuardTree is the first Canadian extended vehicle warranty subscription that you can buy 100% online. You pay an upfront monthly fee with our subscription model. And part of your subscription is used to offset the CO2 emissions of your vehicle.
If you want to protect yourself from surprise breakdown costs with a GuardTree used car warranty, check out what we cover and use our price calculator to decide if an extended car warranty is right for you.
Disclaimer: this post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute mechanical or other professional advice as it relates to your vehicle. Each person must consult a qualified professional with respect to matters referenced in this post. GuardTree Inc. assumes no liability whatsoever for actions taken (or not taken) in reliance upon the information contained herein.
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