Preventing the four most expensive types of auto repair

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Oil change

A regular oil change is the most important component in minimizing many costly engine repairs. Image: JASON ANFINSEN/Flickr/CC BY-SA

It’s expensive enough just to keep your car in gas these days, and a costly and unexpected repair can really hurt a person’s finances. Sometimes it can make you go broke. The most costly repairs are generally not covered by auto insurance, except in the case of an accident. But there are simple things one can do to prevent or delay these costs.

Replacing engine cylinders

A cylinder is the space where a piston travels inside your engine. As the piston pumps up and down, it distributes oil and keeps the cylinder lubricated. When that lubrication is interrupted, eventually friction damages the cylinder, forcing it to be replaced, which is costly. AOL Auto estimates the average cost of replacing a cylinder to be more than $8,000.

When oil changes are not done on time, the oil becomes old and sluggish and fails to lubricate the cylinder properly. Regular oil and filter changes are your best bet to minimize damage to cylinders.

Replacing automatic transmissions

Automatic transmissions also require constant lubrication to keep them from being damaged by friction. Replacing a transmission is expensive in itself, and in modern cars it will also require reprogramming the Engine Control Module. AOL Auto says this repair will cost you, on an average, more than $3,000.

For the longest life, automatic transmission systems should be flushed and have fluid replaced every 3,500 miles.

Replacing camshafts and lifters

Camshafts and lifters have the critical function of continuously opening valves to allow the intake of a mixture of air and fuel, as well as allowing exhaust to escape from the engine. Springs on the valves return them to their closed position until the camshaft rotates around to open them again. Like every other part of an engine, they are subject to wear over time.

Again, lubrication is the key to minimizing wear on the camshaft and lifters. Regular oil changes and filter replacement will save you from a pricey early replacement, which AOL Auto estimates at more than $3,000.

Replacing cylinder heads

The cylinder head sits on top of your car’s cylinders. It seals the cylinders to form the internal combustion chambers. Cylinder heads are most prone to damage when your car runs too hot or overheats. Most today are made of aluminum, which can warp or crack if too often exposed to excessive heat. This repair, says AOL Auto, will again cost you more than $3,000.

The trick to extending the life of a cylinder head is to avoid overheating. Again, the best prevention is a regular oil and filter change. Replacing thermostats in a timely manner and flushing and replacing coolant on a regular basis will also aid in keeping the car from overheating.

Regular maintenance

The key to the longevity of your vehicle, and to minimizing costly repairs, is to adhere rigidly to a regular maintenance schedule. It’s not rocket science, but it can save you from NASA-sized repair costs.


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