When your car starts clanking, whining, or emitting smoke, you know you need to get it to a reliable mechanic post haste, but there's no denying the dread in the pit of your stomach. While a bumper-to-bumper warranty like a Ford Extended Service Plan or Mopar Vehicle Protection plan will cover a lot, it's only natural to worry that you'll have to pay out of pocket for parts or labor that aren't covered. Or worse, what if your warranty has expired?
The silver lining of car repairs is that they cost less than purchasing a new vehicle, but over time, as your vehicle ages and wears, the costs will start to add up. Luckily, most parts are warrantied for several years after you purchase a new car, and the most common repairs aren't going to break the bank, especially if you plan for them and keep some savings set aside.
It's important to understand that repair costs will vary by make and model of vehicle, as well as your location, but here are just a few of the most common repairs and how much they'll likely set you back.
Your gas cap gets plenty of use, especially if you fuel your car frequently, and it can easily break or loosen, causing warning lights to come on and impacting fuel efficiency. Luckily, this is an easy and inexpensive fix. Typically, you can expect to shell out around $75 or more for replacement.
Over time, spark plugs can get fouled with fuel, oil that leaks into the cylinders, or carbon created during ignition. This could cause them to misfire, making your engine sputter or even stall. If you're handy with a wrench, you can replace spark plugs on the cheap, or even try to clean fouled plugs, but for the average driver, it's a lot easier to pay the $100-200 to have your mechanic fix the problem for you.
When good sensors go bad, you're sure to get a warning, and the most common failures occur with oxygen sensors that monitor air flow throughout components in your engine and exhaust. Unfortunately, replacing these sensors requires some specialized equipment and parts, so going to the mechanic could cost as much as $500 for parts and labor.
The water pump that helps to cool your engine isn't a very expensive part, at just $50-100, but it's typically so difficult to reach that the labor of getting it out to replace it will cause repair costs to skyrocket. You could expect to pay anywhere from about $300-750 for this difficult job.
Regardless of the repairs your car needs, you may find yourself paying out of pocket, whether you have a warranty or not. With some money stashed away for this purpose, you'll rest a lot easier when your car starts showing signs of needing repairs.