The top 10 car parts most likely to need repairs during the holiday season

By Marc Terrano

If you’re using your car for any road trips this Christmas and New Year period, you’ll want to make sure your mechanical steed is up to the task.

To help you prioritise your repairs, we worked with mechanic comparison website AutoGuru and crunched the data to find out the top 10 car repair enquiries received in the holiday season across Australia. We also listed the average costs associated with each repair.

AutoGuru has a network of 1,600+ mechanics across Australia, which makes it a decent proxy for the overall market. We looked at data specifically from January 2017 and December 2017 (up to 18 December) and compared it to the monthly average for 2017. We excluded custom repairs and inspections from our research.

Without further ado, here are the most common car repair enquiries during the holiday season. You can also read a summary of our findings at the bottom of the page.

1. Timing belt replacements

Timing belt replacements are the most common repair requested during the December and January period, with a 36% increase compared to the monthly average.

We’ll spare you the technical details of how timing belts work (hint: your engine could be seriously damaged if it snaps), but basically, it controls the opening and closing of your engine valves.

Timing chains were also a common repair item and came in at number 13 on our list, with a 48% increase during the December and January period.

How much will you pay?

According to AutoGuru, timing belts can cost $500 on average to replace, with costs reaching $1,000 and beyond depending on the type of engine and your specific car.

The average cost of a timing chain replacement also starts at $500 and ranges up to $1,500+ depending on the car.

2. Front brake pads

Your front brakes generate 70% of the force that stops your car, so it’s no surprise that they’re the second most common repair that takes place during the holiday period.

There was a 17% increase in front brake pad repair enquiries in January and December compared to the 2017 monthly average.

Brake pads work in conjunction with brake rotors (number four on our list) to create the friction necessary to stop your car wheels from turning. According to AutoGuru, brakes in need of a repair will make a squealing or grinding noise when you use them and your braking performance could also suffer.

How much will you pay?

Expect to pay between $150 and $350+, depending on your car make and model and the type of driving you’ll be undertaking.

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3. Windscreen replacement and repairs

The number of windscreen replacements and repairs increased by 155% in the months of January and December compared to the monthly average.

In fact, 43% of all windscreen repair and replacement enquiries received by AutoGuru in 2017 were received in December and January, with November alone accounting for 35% of windscreen replacement and repair enquiries.

How much will you pay?

The cost of replacing a windscreen can range from $250 to $1,000+ depending on the make and model of your car, according to AutoGuru.

4. Front brake pad and rotor replacements

Much like number two on our list, there’s a moderate increase in the number of people seeking front brake pad and rotor replacements during December and January, with 20% of these repairs for 2017 occurring in the holiday season.

Your brake rotors are the shiny metal discs attached to your axle, and they’re what your brake pads push against when you press your foot on the brake pedal to stop your car.

How much will you pay?

AutoGuru estimates that the cost of replacing your front brake pads and rotors starts at $300 and increases to $700 depending on the make and model of your car.

5. Clutch replacements

Clutch replacement enquiries were 40% more common in December and January than the monthly average.

The clutch in your car is responsible for actually transmitting power to the gearbox and allows you to select gears, so it’s an important repair and one that can cause serious damage to your transmission if not carried out quickly.

How much will you pay?

According to AutoGuru, the cost of replacing a clutch can cost approximately $500 on average for a small car, with costs going up to $1,000+ depending on the car and the driving style.

6. Rear brake pad replacements

Rear brake pad replacements are 22% more likely in December and January compared to the rest of the year, with almost one in five of all rear brake pad replacements for 2017 occurring in these months.

How much will you pay?

AutoGuru estimates that rear brake pad replacements cost between $150 and $400+, again depending on your car and the type of pads you need.

7. Spark plug replacements

Spark plugs replacement enquiries were 56% more common in December and January compared to the monthly average for 2017. In fact, over one in four spark plug repairs requested through AutoGuru in 2017 were made in the holiday season.

Not replacing your spark plug when required can cause your engine to misfire and also lead to poor fuel consumption.

How much will you pay?

According to AutoGuru, the average spark plug replacement costs between $120 and $400+, again depending on your specific car and the type of plugs needed.

8. Transmission fluid service/replacements

Transmission fluid helps to keeps your gearbox lubricated and at the right temperature, so it’s important to get it checked before a lengthy road trip.

Getting your transmission fluid serviced or replaced is 29% more common in the holiday period than it is on average in 2017.

How much will you pay?

A routine flush of old fluid and a replacement of new fluid can cost between $100 and $200, with exact costs dependant on the car type and fluid chosen.

9. Side mirror replacements

Having a broken side mirror makes a road trip even more difficult. It’s also easy for them to get swiped while on a long road trip, which is why it’s no surprise that side mirror replacements feature at number nine on our list.

The number of side mirror replacements soared by 126% in January and December, compared to the monthly average, and 38% of all side mirror replacement enquiries for 2017 occurred in this period.

How much will you pay?

As you can imagine, the cost of replacing a side mirror will vary depending on the car. The latest quotes from AutoGuru for side mirror replacements range from $150 to as much as $400.

10. Battery replacements

Your roadtrip won’t even begin with a broken battery. Your car’s electrical heart obviously powers the various electrical parts of your car, so it’s important to get this checked before your road trip.

Battery replacement enquiries in January or December were 119% higher than average. 36% of all battery replacement enquiries that AutoGuru received in 2017 came during January and December.

How much will you pay?

You can expect to pay approximately $100 to $250+ for a battery, depending on the vehicle.

Summary

You can see a summary of our findings in the table below:

Top 10 car repairs for January/DecemberIncrease in January/December vs average
Timing belt replacements36%
Front brake pad replacements17%
Windscreen replacement/repairs155%
Front brake pad and rotor replacements20%
Clutch replacements40%
Rear brake pad replacements22%
Spark plug replacements56%
Transmission fluid service/replacements29%
Side mirror replacements126%
Battery replacements119%

Source: AutoGuru

Road trips are a fun way to see the country and bond with your fellow car buddies, but you should spare a thought for your car’s health a couple of weeks before you embark.

Not sure where to head on your road trip? We’ve got you covered

Watch Graham's story about how his Nullarbor road trip became a nightmare

 

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