10 Most Common Car Repairs

aaron_anderer | Flickr
aaron_anderer | Flickr

Anyone who’s ever had their own set of wheels knows that car repairs aren’t cheap. According to CarMD, which manufactures an automotive diagnostic tool and software for car repair and maintenance, the total average repair cost in the U.S. is $305.56, including $202.28 for parts and $103.27 for labor.

Art Jacobsen, CarMD’s vice president, says that while car manufacturers are building vehicles to last longer, cars have also become more difficult to repair.


“Many built-in diagnostics systems are designed as a barrier to entry,” he says, explaining that car manufacturers are increasingly finding ways to monopolize business generated by repairs. He also points out that many of the most common repairs can easily be avoided if owners had paid attention to the preventive maintenance requirements, something this AAA survey from earlier this year showed owners didn’t always have the cash to do.

Using the numbers from CarMD, which are based on 170,000 vehicle repairs for which vehicle owners and technicians submitted details to the company’s diagnostic system compiled from 1996 to 2010, MainStreet breaks down the 10 most common car repairs and provides some insight into which can be avoided.

10. Removing Aftermarket Alarm

Percent of Fixes in 2010: 1.96%

Average Cost: $75.85

This is a repair car owners bring on themselves when they attempt to install after-market alarms (or other hands-free devices, car stereos, etc.) on their own.

“When owners add things to their vehicles, they tap into circuits for convenience,” Jacobsen explains. “But that takes power away from something else” and can potentially lead other systems to fail.

9. Replacing Intake Manifold Gaskets

Percent of Fixes in 2010: 2.05%

Average Cost: $326.74

Leaks in the intake manifold gasket, which prevent leakage of air or the mixture of air and fuel between metal engine parts, can also contribute to larger problems with a car’s fuel economy, emissions and engine performance.

8. Replacing Ignition Coils

Percent of Fixes in 2010: 2.58%

Average Cost: $213.16

Ignition coils essentially tell the spark plugs when to do their job, and ignoring a problem with them can do serious damage to your car’s entire ignition system. Determining whether or not there is problem with the ignition coil typically involves going through a diagnostic test.

7. Replacing Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor

Robert Couse-Baker | Flickr
Robert Couse-Baker | Flickr