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10 Notoriously Expensive Repairs You Can Easily Prevent

Car repair can be one of the most burdensome sudden expenses, but here are 10 common auto issues that you can learn to avoid.

Mechanic working on the underside of car

Is there anything worse than taking your car, truck, or SUV in for a repair and finding out it’s going to be incredibly expensive? We all know that our vehicle’s user manual has a recommended service schedule for routine maintenance. We're supposed to get oil changes, fluid level checks, tire rotations, and other services at various intervals. But then life gets busy, time passes, and you think, “Well, it’s probably fine."

It’s only when your vehicle really starts to break down that you really pay attention. Don’t get stuck having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for costly mechanic visits, especially when it could’ve been avoided. These are 10 notoriously expensive repairs that you can easily prevent.

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10 Transmission Replacement

Vehicle transmission

When you think of expensive car repairs, replacing the transmission probably pops into your mind pretty quickly. That’s not surprising since it can cost you a few thousand dollars, according to the Transmission Cost Repair Guide. Without the transmission, though, your car can’t move. It helps your engine run smoothly and transmits power from the engine to the wheels.

In order to keep your transmission working properly and to avoid having to replace it entirely, it’s important to keep up with regular maintenance. Transmission fluid should be checked monthly. The fluid needs to be kept at the right level and replace the fluid as needed. You should also avoid aggressive driving and riding the brakes.

9 Cracked Head Gasket

Vehicle head gasket

The head gasket keeps coolant from mixing in with the engine oil. If it cracks, this mixture can damage your engine. The repair could set you back a couple of thousand dollars, so you’ll want to take measures to avoid this from happening.

The head gasket can crack if the engine overheats. You may also have a cracked head gasket if your oil is white like milk, if there’s a coolant loss with no visible leak, if there’s smoke coming from the tailpipe, or if there are bubbles in the coolant overflow tank or radiator, according to Advance Auto Parts. To prevent a cracked head gasket repair, check your coolant regularly and change it when needed and replace worn hoses and belts.

8 Catalytic Converter Replacement

Mechanic checking the oil in a car

A catalytic converter replacement is another service that will cost you a couple thousand dollars. This car part helps the environment by reducing excessive emissions. If there’s a problem with the catalytic converter, it can cause your vehicle to fail a smog test.

This car part should last for as long as your vehicle does, but it can get damaged if you use the wrong oil, the engine burns oil, or you drive over something too quickly like a large speed bump. To avoid having the catalytic converter replaced, make sure to drive carefully over speed bumps, use the correct oil for your vehicle, and change your oil regularly.

7 Turbocharger Replacement

Car turbocharger

Do you drive a turbocharged car? They’re definitely fun, but replacing the turbocharger isn’t. It can cost thousands of dollars, setting you back somewhere in the range of $6,000, according to Geller’s Automotive.

This car part increases the efficiency of your engine, and signs of a problem with your turbocharger include poor acceleration, excessive exhaust emissions, loud, shrieking noises coming from under the hood, and the check engine light coming on. To prevent having to change the turbocharger, make sure you’re getting regular oil and filter changes, allow your engine to warm up before you drive, use the right octane-level gas, and let your engine cool down before turning it off.

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6 Timing Belt Break

Automotive timing belt

The timing belt connects your vehicle’s crankshaft to the base of the engine to ensure the valves open and close properly. As you can imagine, this car part goes through a lot of wear and tear, and having the timing belt break is a big problem. If the belt breaks or snaps, it can lead to engine damage.

Autoblog said that you might have an issue with your timing belt if you notice that the belt is missing teeth, you hear a ticking noise from the engine, there are visible signs of cracking, or the belt has a glazed look. The best way to avoid this costly repair is to have your timing belt replaced according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

5 Fuel Injector Replacement

Vehicle fuel injectors

Fuel injectors spray a fine mist of gas to the combustion chamber, allowing the correct amount of gas to be delivered to the engine. Each cylinder has a corresponding fuel injector, so a four-cylinder engine has four fuel injectors. A replacement can cost you between several hundred to a few thousand dollars.

You might have an issue if your check engine light comes on, your engine misfires, you have a fuel leakage, you smell gas, or you’re getting poor gas mileage. While fuel injectors to wear out eventually and require replacement, it’s possible to extend the life of these car parts with regular maintenance. You should have the fuel injectors cleaned according to the recommended service schedule.

4 Engine Seizure

Car on the side of the road with the hood open

There are many reasons your engine could seize, and, if this happens, you might have to buy a new engine or an entirely new car. It makes sense, then, that you’d want to avoid this! When the engine seizes, the crankshaft won’t turn and is frozen. This can happen if your engine overheats or you’re running on little to no oil.

If your oil light or engine temperature light comes on, stop driving immediately, turn off your car, and have it towed to a nearby garage. To prevent an engine seizure, be sure to get regular oil changes using the correct oil for your vehicle. Check oil levels each month, and top it off when needed. It’s also a good idea to have your cooling system serviced regularly.

3 Tire Replacement

Back tire of a car

You know that the tires of your vehicle will need to be replaced eventually, but repairs and replacements can become very expensive over time if you don’t properly maintain your tires. Make sure that your tires are always inflated to the correct level and that the tread hasn’t worn down too low.

It’s also a good idea to get your tires rotated regularly, and a good rule of thumb is to have this done when you get your oil changed to ensure that the tires wear evenly. If your tires wear unevenly or you cause extra damage with hard braking, you’ll need to replace your tires more often, which can really add up in costs.

2 Camshaft Replacement

vehicle camshaft

The camshaft is a component of your engine’s internal combustion system. It opens and closes the engine valves and controls the flow of air into the engine. When an issue develops with the camshaft that goes unchecked, it can affect your vehicle’s performance and do more damage to the engine.

This can lead to a repair that costs a few thousand dollars. The good news is that a camshaft replacement is preventable if you get your oil changed regularly and you have your cams adjusted occasionally. It’s also helpful to use the correct gas for your vehicle. If your car requires premium, make sure to use that instead of regular unleaded.

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1 Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement

Car brakes

Brake issues are not uncommon. Brake pads and rotors wear down over time and require maintenance. Brake repairs and replacements become more expensive if you let issues go too long before getting them checked out by a mechanic.

When your brake pads wear down past the recommended thickness, it can cause metal to grind on metal and affect the performance and safety of your vehicle. The rotors can also become damaged and warped past the point of repair. To have the brake pads and rotors replaced on all four wheels, it can cost you between several hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Avoid these most expensive repairs and make an appointment as soon as you suspect you have brake issues.

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