Top 10 repairs revealed

Motorists will spend more than £30,000 fixing the 10 most common car repairs, according to new research.

ClickMechanic, an online marketplace for car repair, has tapped into its database to reveal that the average lifetime cost of fixing the top 10 of car repairs is £30,287.

Topping the list of mechanical repairs and/or replacements is the clutch, which will fail more than 10 times during an average driver’s lifetime at a cost of £5,670.

The cambelt/timing belt will fail more than six times, costing £2,088 in total, while the front brake pads/dicss will need replacing more than 10 times with an accumulated cost of £1,730.

With seven or more fails, the alternator will set back the driver £2,506, while drivers can expect to spend £1,655 on repairing the starter motor five times or more.

Completing the top 10 are the battery (13x, £2,015), the cambelt/timing belt and water pump (6x, £1,608), the flywheel (10x, £7,740), cylinder head gasket (5x, £3,500), and the fuel filter (25x, £1,775).

Andrew Jervis, co-founder of ClickMechanic, said, ‘Ultimately, these repairs will be unavoidable, as wear and tear will eventually require attention. That being said, there are methods which can be applied and habits which can be changed that will extend the life of a part if you find yourself replacing it often. A small change can easily save on the bills in the long-run. Is it essential, however, that all drivers stick to their manufacturer’s recommended schedule, to keep yourself safe and avoid lengthy bills.’

For example, it advises that, to improve the lifespan of the clutch, do not use it in excess or put unnecessary pressure on it; try to apply the handbrake and sit in neutral rather than using the clutch whilst you wait at red lights, and ensure all gear changes are smooth and speedy. Also avoid driving with your foot constantly pressing down on the clutch.

With regards the cambelt, ClickMechanic says it should always be replaced in accordance with the car manufacturer’s recommended schedule. The belt itself is relatively cheap to replace, but to improve the conditions for the cambelt, storing the car in a garage can help. Extreme changes in temperature will make rubber expand and contract, eventually causing it to grow brittle and crack; by storing the car in a garage, the change in temperature will be less intense on the belt in the coming colder months.

Brake pads and discs will wear depending on driving style and the environment; less aggressive braking will lead to a longer life for both. However, drivers should always ensure brakes are functioning properly and get the pads and discs replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule or whenever necessary.

An alternator will generate electricity to charge the battery of a car. It is a vital part of the engine as the battery will provide the electricity for a range of components. As such, most electrical factors will affect the lifespan of the alternator, including starting the car, listening to the radio or winding the electric windows. Unfortunately, there is little which can be done to extend its life. Above all, ensure all parts in the engine are of a high quality and free of dirt to ensure a long-lasting alternator. As it is for all repairs in this list, an alternator should be replaced as and when necessary in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

The starter motor is what assists in starting the car; it can be found attached to the flywheel. Once the engine starts, the starter motor will automatically switch off. Starter motors are particularly prone to wear – it can malfunction due to short circuiting, it can rust or it can simply be worn out over time. As it is such an essential component, any issues should be inspected and the part replaced if need be as soon as possible. This component will inevitably be used often and there is little which can be done to prevent wear. Although, try to avoid holding the ignition key in the starting position for longer than necessary, as this will run and wear the starter motor.

In terms of batteries, they last longer in colder weather as they discharge in hotter climates. To prolong battery’s life, do not leave headlights, car door lights, or any electrical equipment running when leaving the car. Long journeys in the car ensure the battery fully charges; you can always buy a car battery tester to check its health.

The water pump is another component which is prone to wear, and as such, it should be inspected as and when problems occur and as stipulated by the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. The most common issues are a leaking seal or the rotating part of the pump may be damaged. A lack of coolant in the car’s system can lead to the engine overheating and severe as well as expensive engine damage. To extend life, keep the engine well-maintained and change the coolant when recommended. As the water pump is often run by the cambelt, most drivers will get them replaced together as it is cost efficient.

Changing the flywheel is usually recommended when changing the clutch, as a faulty clutch can often damage the flywheel, which may then damage the new clutch if not replaced. To prolong the flywheel’s life, you need to prolong the clutch, which means not putting excess pressure on the clutch, and only using it when necessary.

Prone to wear due to its exposure to extreme heat, the cylinder head gasket can fail when it grows too hot – this is known as a ‘blown head gasket’. The pressure will consequently drop in the engine and the car will no longer run properly. Should this issue occur, you should not run the car and seek help from a professional mechanic as soon as possible. You should also get this part inspected or replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

To prevent the gasket from overheating, you need to ensure that the coolant system is running efficiently; by keeping the water pump in check, the cylinder head gasket is unlikely to overheat.

Finally, a fuel filter will inevitably grow dirty over time and cause either a blockage of fuel or an excess of dirty fuel to enter the fuel pump. Not much can be done to prevent the wear and tear of the fuel filter, however you should ensure it is always in working condition to prevent further damage. Have it inspected in accordance with your manufacturer’s recommended schedule or if you notice any of the above issues.