July 25, 2024

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Car Repairs That May Cost More Than Your Car Is Worth

6 min read

Car repair cost is something every driver deals with, whether you do some of the maintenance yourself or always take your vehicle to the shop.

Those dreaded words: You have a blown head gasket. They rank up there with “We need to talk” and “The IRS is auditing you” among the things we all least want to hear. A blown head gasket, like a cracked engine block or cracked cylinder head, leaves us with visions of cash just flying out of our wallets.

The cost of car repair for issues like these and several others—like a transmission, timing chain or air bag problem—can top a thousand dollars. And that really hurts.

Is It Worth the Cost of Repair?

But what about when your vehicle is getting on in years and no longer worth that kind of investment? Putting $1500 into a car or truck whose book value is $2000 and whose age promises more expensive repairs down the road might not be a good use of your hard-earned money.

Every car or truck owner who drives their vehicle to the end reaches that point when they know the next repair will be the last because maintenance costs are just not worth the investment.

But a failed head gasket, cracked engine block and many other repair needs have to be addressed to avoid catastrophe. At the very least, they can leave you stranded on the side of the road. At the worst, they can put you at risk of injuring yourself or someone else. You have to do something.

In a vacuum, the best course of action is to replace the head gasket, transmission, engine block, etc. Completely eliminating the problem is most likely to return your vehicle to like-new condition and reduce the chance of further repair needs, at least on that part or any related parts.

What Are the Most Expensive Car Repair Costs?

Consider the cost of some of the most expensive car repairs. Estimates vary, but these came from RxMechanic:

• New engine – roughly $7,500
• Cylinder failure – $7,000-$10,000
• New transmission – roughly $5,000
• Engine rebuild – $4,000-$5,000
• Airbag replacement – $2,500-$4,000
• Suspension overhaul – $2,500-$3500
• Crankshaft repair – $1,500-$3,000
• Blown head gasket – $1,500-$2,000
• Catalytic converter replacement – roughly $1,500

Other repairs that can cost more than $1,000 include replacing the main onboard computer, the clutch assembly in a manual transmission,  damaged brake lines, and fuel injectors.

Why Is Car Repair So Expensive?

In some cases, the part itself is costly because it is precision-machined within microscopic tolerances or built with special alloys to withstand punishing conditions. Airbags, for example, have gold plating in them.

With computers handling many of the duties under the hood, more expertise and diagnostic equipment is required to repair some issues, like the onboard computer. Others are just very labor intensive. Most of the cost of replacing a head gasket comes from having to disassemble a large section of the engine just to access it.

The good news is most of these repairs are fairly uncommon. Full transmission replacements and suspension overhauls are not regular occurrences, especially if you take care of your vehicle, do preventative maintenance and address the signs of trouble right away, like noises, leaks and poor performance.

But there isn’t much you can do about a blown head gasket or a cracked engine block or cylinder head. Those issues occur deep in the recesses of the engine and generally don’t involve neglect or abuse. The question when one of these repairs arises is: Is it worth fixing your own car?

How Can I Avoid Expensive Car Repairs?

There are alternatives for many of these financially devastating repair bills. One of them is to purchase used or reconditioned parts at a fraction of the cost of the original. If your car or truck is already past its prime, it doesn’t make much sense to install a brand-new engine or transmission in it. That would be like putting a beautiful new addition on a dilapidated house. The part will outlast the vehicle by a decade.

The internet is awash in deals for parts that can be shipped quickly all over the country. A new transmission for a Hyundai Accent costs $2,000 but you can find the same transmission used for $700 with two mouse clicks. You might be able to do even better at your local junkyard.

You can find a used Honda Civic engine online for less than $500, saving thousands of dollars compared to a new one. It has 130,000 miles on it, but if your vehicle does too, it makes sense.

Doing Car Repairs Yourself

If you are handy, you can try avoiding the labor costs and taking on the job yourself. Most crankshafts cost less than $100 but labor costs to replace them bring the total to $2,000. With the right tools, some time, knowledge and patience, and a few YouTube videos, it is possible to replace the crankshaft.

It is important to add a caution here: This is not a job for a novice. Installing a new crankshaft requires a comprehensive understanding of how an automobile works and the roles of its various parts. It involves removing the engine, fitting bearings with precision and dropping the crankshaft into place perfectly. Replacing the crankshaft wrong can ruin the engine and increase the repair bill by thousands more.

You should not take on this job, or other complex DIY automobile projects, unless you are confident in your abilities and knowledgeable about cars.

Another solution for many of these issues can keep your vehicle on the road without much expense or expertise. BlueDevil manufactures a variety of products that are guaranteed to permanently solve some of the most vexing car repair headaches when the hard part repair isn’t an option.

For example, pouring a bottle of BlueDevil Pour-N-Go Head Gasket Sealer into the engine can save literally thousands of dollars. It hunts down cracks and leaks in the seals around the head gasket and other parts, keeping the head gasket functioning.

Other BlueDevil products designed for situations where the value of the vehicle does not justify the cost of a full repair include:

BlueDevil Transmission Sealer: Permanently seals fluid leaks in your transmission, guaranteed. It restores gaskets and seals transmission leaks fast in manual or automatic transmissions.
BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak: Permanently seals leaks in power steering, differentials, and worn rack and pinion systems. It’s safe and easy to use and guaranteed to work on gasoline or diesel engines.
BlueDevil Radiator & Block Sealer: Repairs and seals leaks in radiators and engine blocks, permanently. It will not clog or harm cooling systems and is compatible in gasoline and diesel engines.
BlueDevil Coolant Stop Leak: A do-it-yourself formula that seals leaks throughout the cooling system. Compatible in gasoline and diesel engines, it will not clog or harm your engine. It bonds to various materials such as metal, aluminum, cast, alloy, or plastic.
BlueDevil Stop Smoke & Engine Repair: Specially formulated to repair and revitalize damaged components permanently throughout the fluid oil system. BlueDevil will stop exhaust smoke and reduce oil loss issues. It is 100% safe for all engine components.

BlueDevil offers a host of other products to extend your vehicle’s life and help it run smoothly when the cost of the hard part repair is more than the value of your vehicle or the actual repair just isn’t feasible. Visit BlueDevil to see the full complement of products and be sure to follow the directions when using the products.

BlueDevil Products can be found at AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, O’Reilly Auto Parts, NAPA, Parts Authority, Auto Value, Bumper to Bumper and other major auto parts retailers.

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