The Most Common Car Repairs You Have to Make

Owning a car comes with costs that go beyond getting an auto loan or needing to insure your vehicle. Maintenance and repair costs can add up, and it’s essential to be prepared for those financially. In 2021, for example, individuals in the United States spent more than $194 billion on vehicle maintenance and repair. Find out about some of the most common car repairs below, including what they cost.

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10 Common Car Repairs and What They Cost

This list of car repairs isn’t comprehensive. However, it includes some of the most repaired or replaced items on vehicles. 

Replacing an Oxygen Sensor

Oxygen sensors check the exhaust from a vehicle’s engine to see how much oxygen is in it. Most modern cars have O2 sensors before and after the catalytic converter. Your check engine light can come on when the sensors aren’t working right.

While a rogue O2 sensor may not be an immediate emergency, if it isn’t functioning correctly, it can lead to fuel intake and other issues with the engine. The cost of replacing O2 sensors varies depending on which sensors need replacing and the make and model of your car. On average, you can expect this repair to cost $150 to $500.

Replacing a Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters control the emissions expelled by vehicle exhaust. They’re required on most new cars. A damaged or broken catalytic converter causes your check engine light to illuminate. If your catalytic converter isn’t working, your vehicle might not pass state inspection requirements where applicable.

In most cases, a catalytic converter replacement doesn’t require much labor. However, the parts can be expensive. The job can cost $900 to $3,500 on average, depending on the make and model of your car and where you get the work done.

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    Replacing Brakes or Rotors

    Brake jobs are common because your brakes and rotors wear down over time. Expect to pay $200 to $500 for a brake service or repair job. If you need a complete brake job, which includes replacement of brakes, calipers, pads and rotors, the cost can average $200 to $800, depending on the quality of the parts, the make and model of your vehicle and where you get the work done.

    Tightening or Replacing a Fuel Cap

    The cap you take on and off when filling your car with fuel is a critical component. It’s supposed to provide a true seal that keeps the fumes and evaporation of fuel inside the tank. You might need a new one when your fuel cap goes missing or doesn’t create a tight seal. On average, the parts and labor for such a replacement range from around $97 to $102.

    Thermostat Replacement

    A thermostat in a car measures the temperature in the cooling system and helps ensure the right amount of coolant is being cycled through the engine. That regulation can’t occur if the thermostat is broken, which can lead to issues with an overheating engine. The cost of repairing or replacing a car thermostat is $140 to $300—typically much less than you’d pay for engine damage.

    Replacing Ignition Coils

    The ignition coils take power from your car’s battery and magnify it enough to cause the spark necessary to ignite the fuel and get your engine running. Bad ignition coils can mean your car doesn’t start. If you need to replace an ignition coil, expect to pay $200 to $300 on average.

    Mass Air Flow Sensor Replacement

    The mass air flow sensor keeps track of how much air enters certain parts of your engine. Your car needs to know this to allow the right amount of fuel to flow into the engine. If the mass air flow sensor doesn’t work, your check engine light may illuminate, and you may also notice symptoms such as misfires, a rough-running engine, black smoke in the exhaust and engine issues on idle. The cost to replace this part is usually less than $300.

    Replacing Spark Plug Wires and Spark Plugs

    Spark plugs and wires are necessary to start your vehicle. Sometimes, you can easily replace these parts to save a bit of money. The cost for parts is $125 to $150. If you pay for professional service, expect the cost to be between $190 and $235 in total.

    Replacing Evaporative Emissions Purge Control Valve

    The purge valve keeps fuel vapors from being released into the air. It’s a required part of vehicle emissions systems. The cost of replacing this part ranges from around $160 to $180.

    Replacing Evaporative Emissions Purge Solenoid

    Purging solenoids are parts involved in the same process as the purge control valve. You can expect to pay $150 to $300 to get these parts replaced. 

    Prepare for Car Ownership and Repairs Financially

    Owning a car is a significant investment, and it’s important to be prepared for paying your car payment and covering unexpected expenses. 

    Start by understanding what you need to finance a car, including what’s a good credit score to buy a car. Then you can shop around for an auto loan that meets your needs.

    Once you have a car, create a budget and set money aside for emergency needs. You can also work on your credit to ensure you have access to credit cards and loans if you need temporary help with a major unexpected expense.

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    Article updated. Originally published April 19th, 2016.

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