Any time your vehicle needs a repair or maintenance item, it’s a very good idea to get it done as soon as possible. However, most of us are procrastinators when it comes time to spend excessive amounts of money. It’s a shock and awe thing; you’re shocked that you’re vehicle is not in peak operating condition, and you can only stare in awe at the amount of money it’s going to take to fix it. Of course, there are also those times when the cost of repair exceeds the supply of repair funds. In those instances there is no choice but to put it off. But there are a few repairs that you really don’t want to put off – at all! These are the repairs that could affect your safety or do serious damage to your vehicle if ignored. You’ll want to keep enough in the savings account to cover these.

Brakes

Average Cost: $150-$200 for a standard disc brake job

Many drivers believe that once they hear the grinding noise of metal on metal, it’s time for a brake job. This isn’t a very good policy. Your brake pads have something on them called wear indicators. These indicators get closer and closer to the brake rotor the more your pads wear down. This is one of the reasons your technician can give you a percentage estimate on how much brake pad you have left before they’ll need changed. When you get down to around 10-15% pad left, or if your rotors are incredibly grooved and scored, it’s a good idea to get your brakes done. Waiting until the pads are gone can cause excessive heat to build up in the braking system. It also decreases your braking power to a point that is unsafe. Not to mention the risk of a backing plate coming loose and getting lodged between the rotor and caliper; that could not only create excessive havoc on the system, but it could lock that tire up and cause a spin. Get regular brake checks, and set aside enough to cover at least a standard brake job when they get low.

Windshield Repair

Average Cost: $150-$300 for full replacement, $50-75 for crack repair, $25-$60 for chip repair

Not only is it incredibly annoying to look through a piece of glass that has a flaw, it’s illegal in most states. Unfortunately, flying rocks and foreign objects are hazards of driving on the highway. This leads to dings in the windshield instead of our heads, so really we should be grateful, but it’s a flaw nonetheless and flaws are annoying. Not to mention the fact that the money you’ll be fined if you’re ticketed for a broken windshield would probably cover the repair, and then some. Many insurance companies even offer glass coverage with no deductible, so this one should never be put off. Remember, broken glass is the leading cause of vehicle devaluation.

Automatic Transmission Fluid Change

Average Cost: $90-$200 depending on fluid type

This is for the drivers who are way overdue on this particular maintenance item. This is one of the most neglected items in the automotive world. The important thing for consumers to remember here is that an automatic transmission is one of the most complex areas of their vehicles. There are very close tolerances inside it and it builds up nearly as much heat as the engine. It is incredibly important to have the fluid changed on time or suffer the risk of turning $100 maintenance item into a $2,700 transmission replacement. And before you think, “Oh, I’ve got a powertrain warranty; if it fails, they’ll just replace it for free,” read the fine print of your warranty paperwork. Fluid changes are a routine maintenance item that will void the warranty if not kept up on.

Fuel Leak

Average Cost: $50-$1,200 depending upon the problem

Obviously the first thing that jumps out here is the vast price difference. That’s because there are a variety of things that could be leaking fuel. First off, if you live in a southern state or a state that doesn’t use salt to deice its roads, you probably won’t run into a fuel leak issue any time soon. Conversely, if you live in a northern state, you have a greater chance of experiencing this issue due to the rusting out of fuel lines and tanks. That’s the big reason for the price differential. If it’s a line that’s leaking, the cost is going to depend on how much of the line is going to need replaced. If it’s just a fitting, o-ring, or filter, it could be on the low end of the scale. If it’s the tank, be prepared for the higher end. No matter what it is, getting it done immediately should be a no-brainer here. All it takes is one cigarette to fly out a window or one spark from a piece of metal on the road, and things can turn ugly.

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