Picture the scene. You’re cruising down the highway when something starts rattling and rumbling in the engine. Something goes clang and your windshield is suddenly engulfed in a plume of black smoke.
Something clearly isn’t right. Your car — your trusty car — has finally stopped working.
Unless you’ve worked as a mechanic, it’s tricky to know how serious a breakdown is. It could be a simple (and cheap) fix or something much more serious.
In this article, we’re looking at the pricier end of the scale at the 10 most common car repairs that’ll cost you a fortune.
#1 Timing Belt
What is it? Your timing belt (also called a cam belt) keeps your engine’s camshaft perfectly synchronised with the crankshaft.
Your timing belt is one of the hardest working engine components, rotating tens of millions of times over its lifespan. Since it works so hard, cracks, splits and tears are very common.
If this happens, you’ll hear a harsh grinding sound from the engine bay.
Your engine is not designed to work without a timing belt so get your car to a garage and have them fix the problem ASAP.
- Common repair price: $400 to $1,000
What is it? Your clutch gradually transfers the rotation of the drive shaft to the wheels.
Your clutch is the bit of your car that allows you transfer varying levels of power from the engine to your wheels.
When your clutch breaks, you can’t control how much power is sent to the wheels. This means you’ll stall all the time and struggle to change gears.
When your clutch goes, you’ll have difficulty changing gears and no power can be transferred from the engine to the wheels.
- Common repair price: $500 to $600
#3 Fuel Injectors
What is it? A fuel injector is like a tiny syringe that shoots the perfect amount of fuel into the engine cylinder.
When fuel injectors start to fail or break completely, you get fuel leaking into your engine and grime leaking into the injector and then into the engine. When this happens, you typically get black smoke pouring out of the exhaust as the fuel to air mixture is off.
Fuel injectors are usually replaced en masse as they typically fail at roughly the same time.
- Common repair price: $1,000 to $1,500
#4 Cylinder Head Gasket
What is it? The cylinder head gasket sits between the cylinder heads and the engine block. Its job is to form a seal between the two and stop the pressure escaping.
If your cylinder head gasket starts to wear or cracks, a bunch of stuff happens. First, the pressure inside the engine drops, reducing power output. Second, you risk having engine fluids — engine oil, engine coolant, etc. — mixing, which will cause damage to the engine.
The good news is if your cylinder head gasket fails, your engine warning light will almost certainly come on. If it comes on, head straight for a garage and have them take a look.
- Common repair price: $900 to $1,300
#5 Battery Replacement
What is it? Your car battery is simply a big rechargeable battery that powers all the electrical components in your car, including your starter motor, lights and radio.
A dead battery means your car won’t work since you can’t fire the starter motor to get the engine running. Often, a dead battery is simply one that’s run out of juice rather than one that is broken.
However, batteries do degrade over time and will eventually need to be replaced.
- Common repair price: $50 to $400
What is it? Your turbocharger (or turbo) is a device which forces more air and fuel into the cylinder, allowing it to output more power.
Turbos are designed to make engines work harder than they would normally work and that puts them under a lot of stress. So don’t be too surprised when yours stops working.
The good news is that engines can and do operate without their turbos so you won’t have to call for a tow truck. However, your engine will lose a lot of power because it can’t adjust the pressure in your engine.
- Common repair price: $800
What is it? Your flywheel is a heavy metal disc attached to the crankshaft. It stores a bunch of momentum and keeps the power output feeling smooth — even when the engine is disconnected.
Oftentimes, when you need your clutch replaced, you’ll need to replace the flywheel too. This is because a faulty clutch has usually damaged the flywheel in its operation. If you leave the damaged flywheel on your car, it can, in turn, damage your new clutch — it’s a vicious cycle.
- Common repair price: $1,000
#8 Catalytic Convertor
What is it? Your catalytic convertor is a bit of kit that sits in your exhaust system. It uses metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium to reduce the amount of harmful pollutants expelled by your car.
When your catalytic convertor stops working, it can be tricky to diagnose the problem. A rotten eggs smell is perhaps the most common sign. Other signs include a drop in fuel efficiency, failing your emissions test or your engine light turning on.
- Common repair price: $250 to $1,000
#9 Fuel Filter
What is it? Your fuel filter does exactly what it says on the tin — it filters your fuel. Specifically, it filters out dirt, debris and other gunk that would negatively affect the workings of your engine.
If your engine is starting to feel a bit rough, your fuel efficiency has dropped or you’re struggling to start the engine, it’s often worth checking your fuel filter.
- Common repair price: $90
What is it? Your brakes are the bit of mechanical kit that slow your wheels and, ultimately, stop your car.
Unless your brakes experience sudden and complete failure, there should be warning signs that they’re on the way out.
Keep an ear out for high-pitched squeaking or grinding as these are signs of worn down brakes.
Also pay attention to how your car reacts when you press on the brake pedal. If it swerves to one side or doesn’t slow down at all, that’s a good sign that something is wrong.
- Common repair price: $250 and up
About the Author
Tom Butcher is a freelance writer, covering a wide range of topics, including finance, business and motoring. At the moment, he is helping LeaseFetcher tell the world about car leasing.