It’s Just a Fact of Car Ownership: 5 Most Common Car Repairs

We may receive compensation from the providers of the services and products featured on this website. Read our Advertising Disclosure.

Cars are complex machines. As a car owner, you have to accept that no matter how well engineered and reliable your machine is, it’s still going to require general wear-and-tear maintenance. Cars cost money, and just like you have to invest in the best car insurance, you also need to invest in repairs when the time comes.

Whether you’re a new car owner or have been driving for years, its good to familiarize yourself with the common types of repairs and maintenance your car may need. Get familiar with the kinds of repairs you’ll need to do so that you’re ready when the time comes.

Here are the most common car repair areas and how to avoid needing repairs as often.

5. Tires

man changing tires
Image Foto/ Shutterstock

Tires can last a long time, but that doesn’t mean you should keep your tires if they are getting old.

Think about it: tires are the only thing connecting your car to the road. Why risk putting on cheap budget tires or leaving on tires that are worn out or cracked?

Tire Maintenance

Here are some key tire maintenance tips to prolong the life of your car:

  • Rotate your tires regularly. A good rule of thumb is to rotate the tire every two oil changes.
  • Keep the tires at the proper PSIs. Check your manual or door jamb to know how much PSI your car’s tires need. Failure to do so could result in damaging your tires sooner than their life span. Because your vehicle is only as good as the wheels carrying it, this maintenance step is especially important.
  • Have your mechanic check your tires for you whenever you go in for a routine check. This is especially important to do before heading out on a road trip.

Tire Replacement

Replacing your tires is inevitable, especially if you rack up some miles daily. Expect to pay for good tires, but also try to find a shop that will match online prices so you can find yourself a good deal.

Look for a shop that will give you lifetime rotations, balancing, and other maintenance on your tires. Sometimes shops will even give you warranties. Try to buy all four tires at once so that they all wear the same way and at the same rate.

Flat Tires

You may end up with a flat tire. Luckily, you can learn how to change a tire yourself. It may seem like a time-consuming task, but once you get the hang of it, it isn’t too bad.

It is normal to end up with a flat tire after puncturing one, but the best way to avoid flats is by properly maintaining them.

The Right Tires

Don’t forget to get the tires you need for the driving you’ll be doing. Some of the main types are:

Using the right tires will help keep your car and the tires in better condition.

4. Oxygen Sensor

oxygen sensor on car
Valokuva24/ Shutterstock

We all know the feeling. You get in your car ready to head out into the world, but your vehicle gives you that pesky “check engine” light. One of the major reasons the light comes on is because of your 02 sensors.

An 02 (oxygen) sensor is a small but mighty piece of your car’s exhaust system. The small valve is responsible for monitoring and sensing the oxygen in the car’s exhaust stream. It makes sure the air-to-fuel ratio is adequate and adds 02 if it needs more. These parts are essential to the vehicle’s engine. But unfortunately, they have a lifespan.

If your car was built after the 90s, you won’t have to worry about replacing your O2 sensor until after about 100K miles.

O2 sensors usually die because of rust. Your car will need a replacement eventually, but it’s a fairly common repair. If you have a domestic or Japanese car, you probably won’t pay too much to replace one. Euro cars will be a little more expensive.

If you’re in the market for a new O2 sensor, you can find one in an online auto parts site. You can usually find a universal O2 sensor for around 30-80 bucks.

You can also replace the part yourself. However, if you’re trying to do it on say, a Mini Cooper, you may have trouble squeezing under your car to get to the sensor unless you have a lift.

3. Battery and Electrical Issues

man checking car battery
gangnavigator/ Shutterstock

Dead batteries are inconvenient and all too common. We’ve all had a dead battery. Sometimes we also can’t get it to jump back up to life either because it’s an old battery or a cheap one. Or, maybe you’ve left one too many lights on while your car was off and drained the battery.

No matter the cause, battery problems are the last thing you want to deal with because it is unpredictable and volatile.

Battery Replacements

Battery replacements are easy enough to do yourself. However, ALWAYS buy the best battery, no matter the price. The quality of the battery makes a big difference in how your car operates and how easy it is to jump the battery if necessary.

Electrical Issues

Other electrical issues may stem from spark plugs, which go bad anywhere between 60k-100k miles depending on what type are in your engine or bad ignition/plug wires.

Here are some of the signs that you’re having electrical issues with your car:

  • You’re having difficulty cranking up your engine. This problem is usually the result of a bad battery. Look into replacing your battery as soon as possible.
  • You have dim headlights or brake lights. Dim headlights and brake lights could mean several things. It could mean a low battery, loose cords, or a general problem with your electrical system. Get this checked out by a mechanic or take a look at the alternator belt.
  • You smell something strange when you start your engine. If something smells like burnt plastic, something in your car is generating more current than it can hold. Do not ignore this. Get the problem checked out immediately.

If you notice other signs of electrical issues, take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.

2. Brakes

man repairing brakes on car
barang/ Shutterstock

Depending on what kind of pads you’ve put on your vehicle, your brake pads will occasionally need replacements.

Rotors typically last about four brake pad changes. For the most part, the only reason rotors go bad is if you neglected to change your pads in the first place.

Look at your pads regularly. If you notice signs of wear or damage, replace them before they destroy the rotors. Brake pad replacement is easy, and most car maintenance manuals give step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

If you hear a strange sound coming from the brake area, get the pads fixed before the problem persists and reaches the rotors.

The worst thing that could ever happen is your brakes going out while driving, so don’t ignore any issues with this part of your car.

1. Oil

oil pouring into car
Africa Studio/ Shutterstock

Oil Changes

For most car owners, the mantra is “change your oil every 3000 miles.” But depending on your car, you might go 5,000 or 10,000k miles if your engine is built especially for synthetic oil.

Regardless, you could bring your car into one of those cheap fast-lube places and risk them not replacing your oil drain plug correctly, stripping it (a higher cost down the line), or not even replacing your oil filter.

It’s better to fork over 40 bucks or so to a dependable mechanic to have it done. German auto owners may have to fork over around 100 at the dealer.

If you want to save some money, learn how to do this car maintenance yourself.

Oil Leaks

An oil leak is a little more of a problem, but your mechanic can put a dye in your car to see where the leak stems from. Some cars leak a small bit of oil over thousands of miles.

Check your oil every other gas fill up to make sure it’s in good condition.

As you can see, plenty of the most common car repairs you can do yourself if you have the ambition to do so.

Click next to read about the best car insurance to protect your car if you need more than these simple car repairs.