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Big auto repairs put drivers at financial risk

August 3, 2011 |  9:37 am

One in four American drivers could not pay for a significant car repair, according to a survey by the American Automobile Assn.

Mechanic “Many Americans rely on their cars for their livelihood and losing access to them could be financially devastating during an already troubling economic time,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA vice president of automotive and financial services. 

“It’s important for drivers to not only continue to maintain their vehicles, but also have a financial emergency plan in place should they be faced with a sudden unexpected auto repair bill,” Doney said.

AAA judged a significant automobile repair bill as one reaching $2,000 or more. The survey also found one in eight motorists would be unable to pay for a repair bill of $1,000. And, 25% of those surveyed also admitted to neglecting repairs and maintenance on their vehicles in the last year because of the economic climate. 

That’s a bad move, AAA automotive experts said, because it can greatly increase the likelihood of the need for a costly, major repair later.

While repair costs can vary greatly by make, model and type of repair, a transmission repair can be $2,000 to $4,000, while an engine repair can exceed $5,000. Major brake repairs may range from $350 to $1,000, and a new set of tires can run from $300 to more than $1,000, the association said.


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-- Jerry Hirsch

Photo: John Kalleen replaces a gasket at Accurate Autoworks in Pasadena. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times