5 Most Common Car Repairs in the US (And Average Cost)

Nobody likes to shell out money to keep their car on the road. Ever wonder what work is most common in the automotive industry? Here are some of the most common car repairs in the US.

The best thing about this list is that most of these repairs are things a home mechanic can do if they want to.

Most Common Repairs

1) Oil Change

oil change and tune up

Oil changes need to happen on every combustion engine between 3,000 and 6,000 miles. Since the average driver in the US travels about 13,000 miles per year, that gives us about 2-4 oil changes per year, per driver. With over 220 million licensed drivers in the US, that’s a lot of oil changes.

Oil changes are very easy for mechanics to perform, and the process is relatively similar across various makes and models. Chances are good you have seen quick lube places around your town, since oil changes are the most common auto maintenance task that’s done. These shops excel at getting vehicles in and out quick for an oil change and other basic maintenance.

Since oil changes are so routine, they are also the job that is most often messed up. It’s easy for mechanics to get complacent or not pay attention to what they’re doing because it’s a job they’ve done hundreds of times.

Unfortunately, the consequences of a messed up oil change are often catastrophic. If the engine is starved of oil for even a few seconds, permanent damage will result. In extreme cases, the engine will seize. This changes a $50 oil change into a $5,000 repair bill, and possibly more depending on what broke.

Cost: An oil change at a quick lube place will cost around $50. An oil change at a dealership will cost around $100 and typically includes a tire rotation, which is needed around the same interval.

2) Tire Repair

screw in tire

Not all roads are maintained as well as they should be. Construction zones may leave behind hardware such as screws and nails. Roads are littered with tiny hazards that are almost impossible to see until you hit them. This type of debris can easily lead to a tire puncture.

Fortunately, a lot of punctured tires can be patched. Tire repairs are extremely common and involve plugging the hole so the tire will continue to hold air. A patched tire can often be driven for the rest of its usable life without issue, so long as the issue is addressed early on.

Not all punctured tires can be patched. If the tire is shredded, it is beyond repair. If the tire is punctured in its sidewall, there is often too much flex to allow a patch to safely be applied. Many tire shops will also refuse to patch the outermost part of the tread that is next to the sidewall.

Cost: A tire patch will cost you about $30.

3) Brake Job

brake system components

Brakes are consumables. Every time you slow down, you wear down a tiny portion of your brake pad material. After many, many miles, you will also wear down your rotors as well.

Disc brakes are really easy for the home mechanic to do, provided they know how to lift and properly support the vehicle. Brake jobs require removal of each wheel.

Many shops charge a lot in labor for brake jobs, so this is a great way to save money if you are mechanically inclined. Be sure you know what you’re doing, though. Brakes are not something to skimp on. You don’t want to cut corners on the components that help you stop when you’re doing 70+ miles per hour down the freeway.

Cost: Brakes have gotten very expensive, and will cost you anywhere from $600 to $1,100. Larger vehicles have bigger and more expensive brakes.

4) New Tires

new tires on rack

Consumables are meant to be replaced after a certain amount of time. Like brakes, tires grip the road by wearing off a small portion of the tire tread. After tens of thousands of miles, you run out of tread and need new tires.

Unless you buy a wheel and tire package with the tires already mounted (like Tire Rack provides), you will need to visit a tire shop to have new tires installed. Tire installation requires special equipment that is not readily available to the home mechanic. Fortunately, most mount and balance jobs are fairly quick and inexpensive.

Cost: New tires will cost you anywhere from $800 to $2,000, mounted and installed. Bigger vehicles use bigger tires that are much more expensive.

See Also: Best Tire Brands (By Type)

5) Replace Air Filter

new engine air filter

Engines need lots of clean air for efficient combustion. An air filter is placed before the intake manifold to keep small particles and debris out of the combustion chamber. After 15,000 to 30,000 miles, this air filter gets dirty and needs to be replaced.

Many air filters are easily serviceable. Some air filter replacements don’t even require tools. If you’re looking for a simple way to start working on your engine, an air filter replacement is a great place to start.

Cost: Air filter replacements cost around $75.

Statistics About Auto Repairs

Although it would be really nice if repair shops published statistics on the types and number of jobs they complete, this isn’t realistic. It’s very difficult to scientifically figure out exactly which jobs are the most common, but it’s pretty easy to extrapolate based on service intervals in various vehicles. Wear items are replaced the most.

Next, some parts are commonly replaced when you get a check engine light. Oxygen sensors, for instance, are often replaced when the catalytic converter ages as a last Hail Mary before replacing the entire catalytic converter.

If you work on your own car, what parts do you find yourself replacing the most? Feel free to leave a comment below.


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