Every year, car owners in America grumble about the costs of unnecessary auto repair, with 27% of Americans reporting dissatisfaction with repair services they’ve received from a mechanic. This dissatisfaction stems from the costs of the repairs and repairs that don’t hold up, and these costs can add up quickly. While exact estimates of lost money varies, most agree that the number is in the tens of billions, and some estimates are even as high as $40 billion annually, and on average, Americans spend $750 per year on car maintenance. What can American drivers do to save themselves from these unnecessary costs and mechanic scams?
The most common car repairs are made to the car’s engine, tires and rims, timing belts, tire pressure monitoring systems, brakes, and suspension. Since the engine is the most crucial part of a car, it needs repairs the most often. Nearly 65,000 cases of engine repair have been reported in the United States since 1996. Tires, on average, have a 2-4 year lifespan, which can be shortened by poor road quality. Timing belts, meanwhile, aren’t a very expensive part, but they require intensive labor to remove and replace.
These types of repairs are common, but not always the most expensive. A blown motor can cost anywhere from $1,000-$4,000 to fix, and a transmission replacement can cost between $1,800 and $3,500, or $1,000-$2,000 to repair. A head gasket costs between $1,200 and $1,600 to repair, and your air conditioning compressor can cost $200-$600, plus extra costs if additional services are required.
Avoid common scams (such as a verbal estimate followed by a higher final charge, or charging for repairs covered by a warranty) by getting recommendations for a mechanic from friends and family that you trust. Ask questions to clarify the repairs being done, and get the repair warranties in writing. Pay only after the agreed-upon repairs have been finished, and get a second or third opinion on expensive repairs. Finally, if you have a positive experience with a mechanic, recommend them to family and friends to help reputable mechanics get more business.