What better incentive to stay up on your car’s regularly scheduled maintenance than the possibility of having to pay through the nose for a costly repair? If you’re the kind of driver who never changes the oil, never rotates the tires, and never thinks about anything other than keeping the tank full of gas, odds are you’ve probably had to pay, or will have to pay, for a few expensive repair jobs in your life.
For those who haven’t learned a hard lesson about vehicle maintenance at the expense of their bank accounts, here’s a list of the four most expensive auto repairs:
1. Camshaft Replacement
May you never have to hear your auto mechanic utter these words. A car’s camshaft is what keeps the engine’s valves operating and controls the inflow of air into your engine. Full-on camshaft replacement can cost you anywhere from $1,000 upwards of $3,000, but it’s a totally preventable replacement as long as you get your oil changed on a regular basis and have your cams adjusted periodically. If you have a high-performance car, opting for low-grade gas can also negatively impact the operation of your camshaft, so consider giving your engine a drink of the premium stuff at least every once in a while. It’ll repay you by lasting longer.
2. Transmission Replacement
Anytime you hear the word ‘transmission,’ think dollar signs. The average cost of getting a transmission replaced on a car can be more than $3,500, almost enough to make you want to call it quits and search for a used car for less. Why does it cost so much? The transmission is a complex collection of parts, and it’s the very mechanism that makes your car move by transmitting power from your engine to your wheels, hence the name ‘transmission.’ To keep your transmission healthy and your repair bills low, run your engine smoothly and avoid aggressive driving. In harsh winter temperatures, allow your car to warm up before driving too quickly, and have your car maintained regularly.
3. Brake Pad & Rotor Replacement
This is a common repair that occurs when owners let their brake pads wear beyond the minimal allowable thickness recommended by manufacturers, which can range from 2.5 to 3.0 mm. Most late-model vehicles have brake-pad indicators built in, and they send a warning to the vehicle’s dashboard when that indicator makes contact with the rotor. To be safe, have your local auto mechanic check brake-pad thickness whenever your car is in for service. Replacing rotors and brake pads on all four wheels, depending upon the vehicle, can cost between several hundred and thousands of dollars. Want to know more about why you might need to have this done and why it matters? Here’s a comprehensive guide to brake pads and rotors.
4. Tire Replacement
Proper maintenance and care can delay the purchase of new tires. Once the time comes, the tire installation itself isn’t too expensive; the tires make up the bulk of the cost. Tires for a standard economy car could run $50-$75 apiece, and tires for a European sedan might cost about $250-$350 each. High-performance cars with high-performance tires will cost a good deal more. The most expensive tires we could find were for a set of Michelins for the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, at a cool $42,000! To prolong the life of your tires, don’t drive aggressively; hard acceleration, braking and cornering is a recipe to destroy your tires. And be sure to follow your manufacturer’s recommended schedule for tire-rotation and wheel alignment to prevent uneven wear.
What do all of these frightening dollar signs tell us? That those of us who think we’re saving money by not taking our cars in for scheduled maintenance are only setting ourselves up for serious financial liability, and even debt. The longer you go without servicing your car, the closer you come to a bill of enormous size. Don’t let this happen. Make an appointment today to have your car serviced. If that’s not an option, start saving your pennies. You’ll need every last one!
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An earlier version of this article was written by Rob Infantino, founder and CEO of Openbay, for Credit.com, where it was first published, then syndicated to Yahoo! Finance, among others.