Image of worker repairing car engine.

The Most Expensive Car Repairs (And How Much You'll Pay For Them)

Victoria Araj4-Minute Read
UPDATED: July 25, 2023


Unexpected expenses can be a real pain. No matter how meticulous we are when it comes to creating a personal budget, life just happens, and sometimes the financial costs just can’t be deferred or ignored. Buying a car is a big investment for most of us, and the true cost of owning one goes well beyond its sticker price.

When it comes to car repairs, waiting to get something fixed is usually not an option. Most of us need our cars to get to work, get to school, meet family obligations, and much more. And while we can’t prepare for every eventuality, a basic understanding of what it will take to pay for repairs – especially the big ones that can bust your monthly budget - can help.

What Car Is The Most Expensive To Repair, And Which Brands Cost The Most To Maintain?

Just by looking at the sticker price, we recognize that companies don’t create cars equally. Some have parts that are relatively inexpensive and the majority of mechanics can work on them. Others have parts that can cost a ton, with very few people qualified to do repairs.

A recent study by listed the 15 most expensive cars to repair, with Porsche topping the list and BMW taking both second and third place. These brands are well known for making cars with excellent performance, making them fun to drive, but you may want to steer clear of them if you want to keep your maintenance and repair costs down.

What Are The Most Expensive Types Of Repairs?

Now that we know the most expensive brands of cars to fix, let’s take a look at the most expensive types of repairs. Below are five car big-ticket items and how to avoid them. We’ll look at what it might cost you, but keep in mind that prices vary greatly, depending on a number of factors, including what type of car you have, who your mechanic is and what parts you need.

1. The Engine 

It’s no surprise that the heart of your car – the thing that makes it go – can be a large expense if not working properly. If more than a few of the internal working parts need repair, it’s called a “blown engine.” As you may have guessed, this isn’t a good sign.

Typically, repairing the entire engine will set you back $1,000 to $5,000. Checking and changing the oil regularly and taking it in for diagnostics when the check engine light comes on are a couple of ways to help prevent ending up with a blown engine.

2. The Transmission

Second in importance to the engine, the transmission is another big-ticket item if it breaks down. Getting power from the engine to the wheels – the function of the transmission – is a critical process for making your car go, so this type of repair can’t be avoided or deferred once it’s needed. Luckily, transmissions usually last a very long time unless they aren’t properly cared for.

Avoid this repair in an automatic transmission car by making sure you keep the transmission fluid fresh. In a manual transmission car, make sure you don’t ride the clutch too hard and often when shifting. Replacing your transmission can cost $1,000 to $5,000, depending on a number of factors, including whether you go with a new transmission or a rebuilt one.

3. The Head Gasket

This important part of your car seals the engine cylinders – a critical function – which stops coolant and oil from leaking from the engine. If the seal compromised or gone, the engine can overheat and cause considerable damage. You’ll definitely know if this happens because it results in coolant and oil spraying everywhere. Fixing it, as you may have guessed, is unavoidable and can come with a price tag of roughly $2,000. Checking and maintaining the seal on your head gasket is a good way to avoid this messy and expensive repair.

4. The Camshaft

Essentially, the camshaft in your car controls how your engine takes in air. Usually this is something that won’t ever break, but if it does, it can cost you upward of $3,000, so taking preventive steps is worth your time. Problems arise when dirt and other muck start to build up on it, causing it to break down. Getting your car serviced routinely and making sure you don’t skip oil changes are the two key things you can do to help prevent this from happening.

5. The Brake Line

As you know, being able to stop your car is a pretty important safety feature. Break lines allow the pressure you put on the brake pedal with your foot to result in actually stopping the car. If they need replacing to make sure you can stop properly, it can cost upward of $1,000. The issue occurs when brake lines rust and disintegrate over time, so coating them with an anti-rusting agent can help get more life out of them, therefore avoiding costly repairs.

Moving Forward...

Expensive car maintenance and repair are not the most fun ways to spend your money. We’d all rather save for a down payment on a home, pay for college, or spend our money on loved ones during the holiday season – just to name a few. Extensive car repairs can even require you to take out a personal loan to make sure you can stay on the road.

Being prepared, knowing what car repairs to anticipate and how to prevent them can help you drive with a little more peace of mind. We offer personal loans for auto repairs that you can use to cover damages from an accident, or pay for new parts to give your automobile a little extra TLC.

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Apply for a personal loan today to consolidate your debt.

Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.