budget for a used car repairs

Are you planning to buy a used car in Houston, TX or just acquired one and want to know how much to budget for repairs and general maintenance? This post is for you!

As with a new car, you need to take good care of your used vehicle to ensure it gives you sufficient value for its worth. For this, we recommend setting aside a budget to avoid getting caught off-guard when common issues arise. The last thing you want is having the dreaded “check engine” light illuminate for too long on your dashboard. Besides, it certainly won’t feel safe riding a car with unresolved problems.

In our post today, we explain the most common car repairs and their estimated costs. Further, we’ll give you tips that you can use to budget for your maintenance services as well as how to minimize the costs. For the record, our go-to resource for car repair estimates is Auto Service Costs.

Common car repairs and estimated costs

For starters, most common repairs range between $25 and $1500, but this figure can go higher depending on which part is affected or the brand of your car. If you are in the process of buying, the general rule of thumb is to test drive the car preferably alongside a mechanic you trust. This will help you catch most obvious defects and enable you avoid overpaying or worse, driving home a costly problem.

Maintenance before 10,000 miles

If the used car has a mileage of 10,000 miles or below, have your mechanic take care of the following components:

Oil filter and the engine oil

The metallic components under the hood generate a lot of friction in their day-to-day operation. Without proper lubrication, they often heat up, meld together, and eventually total the engine.

With used cars, it’s hard to tell how often the previous owner lubricated the engine. Besides, the sieves of the oil filter may be worn out, thereby allowing dirt to sip through to the moving parts.

To repair this component, you will spend anything between $25 and $87 for most vehicles.


One of the common problems you’re likely to notice with used tires is uneven wearing out. As a result, they may not give you the service life that matches their worth.

The good news is you can extend the life of your tires with a simple tweak like rotating them. Your mechanic will replace the drive tires, which wear unevenly, with the non-drive ones. Additionally, he will do wheel alignment and balancing to ensure uniform wear and tear.

Rotation of tires costs alone costs between $25 to $120, but that can go up to $200 with alignment.

Maintenance after 10,000 miles

Air and fuel filter

The air filter traps dust and dirt before it gets to the car’s AC system. On the other hand, the fuel filter sieves and prevents the rust or dirt from entering into your fuel tank. Both parts require replacement after about 12,000 miles to minimize wear of engine components and overheating.

It will cost you between $70 and $100 to troubleshoot and repair damaged air and fuel filters.

Brake Pads

Any car with an unmaintained braking system is a safety hazard to the driver and other motorists on the road. Although the system has many parts, often it is the brake pads that wear out faster because of the direct exposure to decelerating friction.

Ideally, brake pads should be replaced after every 20,000 miles with the cost per axle averaging $150.

Timing belt

The timing belt can last up to 50,000 miles with new vehicles. But with used cars, you can’t always be certain about its condition. The part helps to ensure that various components of your engine are firing at the right time.

Here at Motors on Wheels, we recommend testing the integrity of the belt at least once every year. While at it, ask your mechanic to even out its tension, which can stress the bearings and cause premature damage. Maintenance can cost between $500-900, while replacement will likely set you back up to $2000 depending on the extent of the damage.


All the electrical components in your car draw power from the battery and the alternator, which work together. Unfortunately, car batteries have a short life as they depreciate even when the engine is off.

A quick way to troubleshoot battery problems is when your vehicle has trouble starting or the lights are unusually dim. It will costs you between $120 and $200 to purchase and install a new one under the hood.

Tips to budget for used car maintenance and repair

  • Set aside some funds in an emergency kit at least once every month after purchasing the car. The idea is to accumulate enough to cover any sudden expenses arising from unnoticed defects.
  • Create a budget for regular repairs and maintenance services. Your vehicle has components that require frequent inspection and alignment by a mechanic.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, consider learning Do-It-Yourself repair skills. For example, battery replacement and oil change are simple tasks that you can do on your own.

Tips to minimize repair costs

  • Replace your engine oil regularly to lubricate the moving components, which are costly to repair when damaged.
  • Inspect your tire pressure frequently to minimize uneven wear.
  • Change your oil and air filters often to ensure your engine cooling system is working optimally.
  • Follow your car’s manual that directs on how to take care of common repairs and maintenance.
  • Lastly, if you buy your used car from Motors on Wheels, where all cars go through a thorough 51-point inspection before going to our inventory you’ll get the peace of mind you deserve. Our extended warranties are up to 5 years.

Need more info? Call us at  713-660-8666 or fill this form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.