There are times when life throws you a curveball and your car just doesn’t work how it should. The headache of having a broken car rivals many of the biggest headaches you can get from modern day life problems. Every time that painfully annoying “check engine” light turns on, you immediately worry something big is about to cost you a lot of money (those of us with older vehicles can relate). On the bright side, most of the time the repairs don’t cost a paycheck or two, BUT there will be those times where you will hear these words from your mechanic's mouth and your heart will drop:
“Your engine seized due to oil starvation”
Noooooooo. If I heard this I would cry, because this repair is so expensive you might as well buy a new car. The other super frustrating thing about hearing these words is how easily preventable it could have been. All you needed to do was properly oil your engine. Either way, if you hear these words you will have learned the expensive lesson about why you need to do oil changes. To give you an idea about how expensive this repair is; a used engine usually goes for about $3000 and a remanufactured engine will cost you about $10,000. Also, keep in mind this is not the only way to ruin your engine completely; this is just the one way that it is mostly your fault.
“Your transmission is shot; looks like you need to get it replaced.”
If you have an older car and the transmission is failing because of old age or because you were never nice to your car when driving it, then this will be a very expensive repair. Transmissions can cost you up to $5000 to replace and you have to replace it because unfortunately you won’t be able to go anywhere without a working transmission. For newer vehicles with electronically controlled transmissions, your problems may be related to software or solenoids and these repairs only range in the hundreds.
“You head gasket is cracked, there is antifreeze coming out of your tailpipe”
If there is antifreeze coming out of your tailpipe it means that some component of your engine’s cooling system has cracked and is therefore allowing a leak to go into sections of the engine antifreeze should never be in. Usually this cracking is the result of overheating and if the leak isn’t coming from your head gasket, it may mean even worse news as it could be your cylinder head and possibly even a cracked block. This repair will range anywhere from $1,000-$4,000.
“Looks like your timing belt should have been replaced a long time ago”
Depending on whether you have an interference engine or a non-interference engine the cost of this repair ranges from $1,500 to $3,500. For an interference engine (the more modern engine design) if you skip timing belt maintenance and your timing belt breaks and causes your piston to smash a valve, then you will be paying closer to $3,500 for this repair. Typically for a non-interference engine, a broken timing belt will leave definitely leave you stranded but the repair price will not cost you an arm and a leg, just an arm.
“The internal computer is fried”
Too many times we do this to ourselves. The most common way of ruining your internal computer is accidentally reversing polarity when you hook up your jumper cables. Doing this means you will need a new computer for your car, but if that is your only worry then you got off easy. If you hooked up the jumper cables the wrong way you might have created even more internal electrical problems and you might have even started a fire in your car. A new internal computer ranges from about $1000-$2000.
All these repairs suck, but they mainly suck because they cost you a whole lot of money and are unavoidable if you need your car back on the road. The bigger lesson you can take home from reading this post is that maintenance helps prevent some very expensive repairs. As a wise man once said:
"Just maintain your car when you are supposed to"
-Wise Man with a car who will last him 20 years.