Getting hit with an unexpected car issue is inconvenient and irritating, especially when you need it to go to work, bring your kids to and from school, attend appointments or run errands. So when a problem pops up and your vehicle needs maintenance, you could end up scrambling to find alternative transportation or be forced to postpone your plans. On top of that, you might have to pay out-of-pocket for the repairs if you lack coverage through a warranty or vehicle protection plan.
While not every problem necessitates a visit to your mechanic, knowing what to expect can be helpful. Let’s explore the most common car repairs and what you can anticipate when the unforeseen happens.
6 Most Common Car Repairs
1. Broke Wiper Blade
Having a torn or broken windshield wiper may not be the most significant expense, but it is a nuisance and danger when driving in inclement weather. Broken blades impair your visibility because they cannot adequately clear debris, rain, or snow from your windshield.
But before you buy new wiper blades, check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation or ask a local automotive retail store representative for support. In addition, you may need to visit your certified mechanic for further diagnosis, depending on the problem. The general recommendation is to replace your windshield wiper blades seasonally (every six months); however, you should replace them as soon as you notice a problem.
Reasons why your windshield wiper blades stop working include:
- A tear in the blade’s rubber
- A short in the motor
- A loose or disconnected circuit wire
- A loose pivot joint
- The wiper fuse blows
Average windshield wiper blade replacement: $75–$82
Average windshield wiper motor replacement: $319–$340.
2. Dead or Dying Battery
Your battery may not show any clear signs that it’s failing until it’s dead, which is the last thing you want to discover when you find yourself in a hurry. However, there are several minor things you can watch for to determine whether you need to test your battery’s charge, replace it altogether, or if you need to investigate other problems involving your alternator.
On average, you should replace your car battery every five to seven years. But the following signs can indicate your battery might be failing sooner:
- Your car is slow to start and lags unexpectedly.
- You can visibly see swelling or damage to the battery.
- Your check engine light turns on or begins to flash.
- Your car starts but dies instantly.
- The car radio won’t turn on.
Average battery test: $35–$44
Average battery replacement: $309–$319
3. Worn or Flat Tires
The tires on your car are the only part that touches the road, and several factors can impact how often you need to replace them—the type of car you drive and its age, the terrain you drive on, your speed, and the quality of tires you buy. So when something is wrong with one or both tires, you will likely notice a difference in how your car drives and stops.
If you aren’t already doing so, keep a record of your maintenance as a reminder of your last tire rotation, air pressure check, inspection and alignment. Regular maintenance can help maximize the lifespan of your tires.
It may be time to shop for new tires if they are:
- Improperly balanced or deflated
- Showing signs of physical damage
- Lacking adequate tread depth
- Causing unusual vibrations or thumping noises
- Showing any cuts, tears, bubbles or bulges
Average tire rotation: $35–$44
Average tire balancing: $26–$33
4. Squeaky Brakes/Worn Brake Pads
The most critical component of a vehicle is the brakes. Your ability to stop your car at a moment’s notice is not only essential for your safety but to the safety of your passengers, other motorists and pedestrians. As soon as you notice anything questionable about your brakes, schedule a service appointment for further diagnosis and needed repairs.
Be aware of the following warnings signs that indicate brake problems:
- You hear a high-pitched or grinding sound when applying the brakes.
- Your brake pedal feels low or spongy.
- You feel a vibration when using the brakes.
- You do not feel resistance when applying the parking brake.
- The anti-lock braking system (ABS) illuminates on your dashboard.
Average brake pad replacement: $245–$268
5. Oil and Oil Filter Change
One of the most common car repairs you will face is changing your oil and filter. How often you change them will depend on your car’s age, the amount of oil it consumes and the type of oil you use. Regular oil changes and filter replacements can help extend the life of your engine and keep your car performing efficiently.
If you own an older car, you will need to change the oil and filter every 3,000 miles. However, more modern models require synthetic motor oil, so you may not have to change them until you hit 5,000-7,500 miles or even 15,000 miles if your engine requires full-synthetic motor oil.
Failing to follow your vehicle’s routine maintenance schedule may void your car warranty and eventually create adverse engine effects, including:
- Sludge build-up
- Friction points
- Engine seizure
Average oil change: $128–$139
6. Failing Alternator
A critical part of your vehicle’s starting and charging system is the alternator, which transforms mechanical energy into electricity. In other words, the alternator keeps your car’s battery charged to power your vehicle so it will start. Additionally, it helps the interior lights, headlights, taillights and audio functions of your car work properly.
Signs that you have a bad alternator include:
- Interior lights dimming
- Dashboard battery or ALT light activating
- Engine belt troubles
- Lights flickering randomly
- Dead car battery or sluggish windows/stereo
Average alternator replacement: $675–$706
Diagnosing car problems can be challenging no matter if you are new car owner or an experience driver, especially when some issues can often resemble others. But being aware of the most common car repairs and what to look for can help you avoid any inconvenient breakdowns.
Limit your unexpected repairs and out-of-pocket expenses by being proactive, sticking to a regular maintenance schedule and investing in a vehicle protection program. Explore our protection program reviews and top picks to discover breakdown coverage that fits your needs and budget.
Replacement estimates derived from repairpal.com