The most expensive car parts to repair

ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Almost every driver has experienced it – that sinking feeling when you see a warning light on the dashboard or hear a strange new sound coming from somewhere in your car, and you wonder how much you’re about to pay for car repairs.

The average cost of a car service in Australia is about $245 for a minor service and $386 for a logbook service, with prices varying depending on the make and model of your car, the mechanic, your location, and the level of servicing required.

If a specific part in your car needs repairing or replacing, though, then the cost you face could end up being much higher. In this article, we’ll answer the questions:

What are the most expensive parts of a car to repair?

From the cost of a new transmission through to something as seemingly simple as getting a replacement set of car keys made, as a general guide, these are car parts that can be the most expensive to repair:

Engine: $4,500 – $28,000+

“You’ve got a blown engine” is among the worst news a car owner could receive. Normal engine issues are the most common car problem reported to mechanics, but a ‘blown motor’ has so much internal damage that it needs extensive repair or a full replacement. According to iLoad Engine Specialist, the cost of rebuilding a damaged engine can start from $3,000. If you need to replace your engine, CarSales says that salvage yard engines can cost around $5,000, while depending on the model of your car, a reconditioned one can cost upwards of $12,000 and a new one could set you back up to $28,000. According to Carsales, one benefit of new engines is that they typically come with a manufacturer’s warranty for either 12 or 24 months limited kilometres.

Cylinders: $8,000+

A broken cylinder is probably a sign that you’ve ignored previous warning signs such as multiple misfires. If you get regular services, you should never end up with cylinder failure. According to Sandgate Auto Electrics, damaged cylinders can be one of the most expensive parts of a car, and repair and replacement can cost upwards of $8,000.

Hybrid car parts: $4,000 – $7,000

Hybrid car parts can be expensive and may not be available locally, so you may also have to wait for shipping. It’s often hard to detect things such as inverter failure with a hybrid vehicle, since the only warning sign is the “check engine” light. It doesn’t often happen, but when it does, replacement can cost between $4,000 and $7,000, according to Sandgate Auto Electrics.

Transmission: $200 – $5,000+

The transmission is one of the most important parts of your car, and can be expensive to repair or replace. According to AutoGuru, the cost of basic transmission repairs can be as low as $200 to $500, but more extensive repairs, including an overhaul or replacement, can end up costing anywhere from $1,000 to more than $5,000.

Head gasket: $1,200 – $3,000+

The head gasket is vital because it seals the engine cylinders and stops coolant and oil from leaking. When the head gasket blows, you’re looking at an overheated engine, leaking coolant and oil, and white smoke from the exhaust. According to AutoGuru, the cost of repairs to a head gasket can start at around $1,200 and run to more than $3,000.

Camshaft – $1,200 – $1,500+

The camshaft controls how your engine takes in air. According to AutoGuru, replacement parts for a camshaft can cost anywhere from $200 to $500, but replacement is highly labour intensive, and this component can cost from $1,200 to above $1,500 for most car models.

Air-conditioning compressor: $800 – $1,200+

The air compressor separates the high and low pressure air when cooling down your car and its engine. According to AutoGuru, a compressor replacement can set you back anywhere from $800 to $1,200 or more. If you also need a refill of refrigerant gas, you may need to add about another $150.

Car keys: $267 – $800

Unfortunately, the days when you could just run to your local locksmith and get a replacement car key cut are long gone. Car keys tend to be electronic now, operating at the push of a button and sometimes without a traditional metal ‘key’ component at all. According to CarsGuide, if you need to get a replacement made, it’s likely to cost between $267 to $800. If you’ve lost all your keys and need to get a new set coded and have your car’s computer reset to match, then you could be looking at anywhere from $1,800 to $5,000.

Mass air flow sensor: $50 – $340

The mass air flow sensor measures the amount of air sent to the engine and decides how much fuel to send to the engine in response. Failure of the sensor typically means that you didn’t replace your air filters regularly. According to AutoGuru, replacing a mass air flow sensor can cost between $50 and $340.

Spark plugs: $100 – $300

Spark plug failure needs to be addressed immediately. You’ll know it when you get a misfire that makes the “check engine” light come on. According to AutoGuru, the average cost of having your spark plugs replaced can run anywhere from $100 to more than $300. Faulty spark plugs can cause the engine to misfire and potentially increase your car’s fuel consumption, so it’s important to make sure yours are in good condition.

Why are spare parts so expensive?

According to Drive, spare parts are a major source of profit for the automotive industry, and as such, they are subject to enormous markups with some potentially being subject to 2000% markups before they reach the consumer.

If you are hoping to save money on spare parts, it can be cheaper to buy a replacement part from an auto store, online, a salvage yard or even directly from your mechanic instead of going to a dealer or manufacturer.

Why should you get your car regularly serviced?

It is often the case that the longer you delay getting your car serviced or leave a problem unattended, the more it will cost to fix. This is because if car problems are detected and fixed early, then they can be dealt with before the costs of repairs, replacement and labour balloon out too much.

For example, if you have your car regularly serviced and your oil changed frequently, your camshaft should remain in good working order, but if you neglect these things, you could end up paying $1,500 or more above the cost of a standard service.

If you are in the market to purchase car insurance or switch providers, you can compare car insurance with Canstar. You can also view Canstar’s top-rated car comprehensive insurance policies that offer value for money to Aussie customers.

Cover image source: 4 PM Productions/Shutterstock.com


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