10 Car Repairs That Add Value

By Mark Elias 10/18/2022 12:00pm

service and repair ideas

With prices for new cars and used vehicles hitting all-time highs, trading in your current ride may be daunting. Sure, you’ll likely get more, but you may also pay more for a replacement. The alternative is to keep driving your car a bit longer.

If you choose this route, the smart move is to invest in your vehicle. Catch up on maintenance and repairs. Upkeep and fixing problems will help ensure better performance, fuel economy, and overall enjoyment. Additionally, when it’s time to trade or sell your car, the vehicle may be worth more because of these expenditures.

Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of your car so it can provide you with many years of service and mileage. To that end, we’ve assembled a list of 10 service and repair suggestions to help keep your vehicle operating reliably for the long haul. Doing so will increase its resale value, allowing you to get top dollar when that time comes.

You also check out the cost and availability of some of these maintenance tips through Kelley Blue Book’s service and repair guide.

1. Get the Car Detailed (and Keep It Clean)

Car detailing is the process of cleaning and visually restoring your vehicle to a like-new condition. Performed by hand, it involves an exterior wash and polishing. Technicians may use a clay bar treatment to remove debris and road residue on the exterior. Detailers vacuum and steam clean the interior and trim, condition the seats, scrub and brush crumbs from crevices, and more. The detailing session ends with wheel cleaning and tire dressing to give it that new car look. Prices vary according to the region and size of the vehicle and can range from $75-$300. Alternatively, you can assemble a car cleaning kit and clean the vehicle yourself.

2. Fix Dents

Take detailing a step further: Have dings smoothed, dents removed, and the paint refreshed. At the same time, consider cleaning, polishing, or replacing oxidized, cloudy headlight lenses. You can go to a body shop for this work or choose a company that will come to you.

3. Oil Changes and Tune-ups

Necessary for the life of gas-powered vehicles, an oil change is essentially a transfusion for the engine. Traditional oil should be changed every 6,000-7,500 miles, while synthetic oil can go up to 10,000 miles or once a year. An oil change usually includes an oil filter replacement and may cost $40 to $140, depending on the region and oil type.

Car needs new fuel pump - service and repair ideas for used cars

Today’s vehicles are more complex than ever and need regular maintenance to run properly. Poor fuel economy and rough idling are signs you need a tune-up. Basics include spark plug replacement and new air and fuel filters. Technicians use a computer hooked to the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics to see how your engine is working and restore it to factory specs. Prices vary by vehicle type, region, and more, but expect minor tune-ups to cost from $150 to $250. Specialized tune-ups for high-performance or luxury vehicles can range from $400 to $1,000 or more.

4. Alignments

wheel alignment - service and repair ideas for used cars

Front or all-wheel alignments keep your vehicle running on the straight and narrow. A properly aligned vehicle will allow your car to steer straight, maintain its suspension geometry, and, most importantly, maximize the life of your tires. A typical front-end alignment can run from $75 to $200. All-wheel alignments usually cost more. To make it even more economical, some car care facilities offer lifetime alignment services for around $200.

5. New Tires

There’s nothing like a new set of tires to revitalize your automobile. If you don’t know much about tires, it’s easy to look up the appropriate sizes in your owner’s manual. Some specialized and high-performance vehicles use staggered sets with smaller-sized tires in front and larger tires in the rear. Prices vary according to your car, truck, or SUV.

Make sure that the tires are balanced dynamically to ensure a smooth ride. If you live in a snow belt state, invest in winter tires when the season changes.

Also, as a part of regularly scheduled maintenance, be sure to have the tires rotated. That means moving them from front to back or right to left, depending on whether your car is front- or rear-drive and if it has staggered front or rear tire sizes. Regularly check your tire pressure and make sure it matches the value on the sticker found inside the driver door frame. Underinflation is one of the fastest ways to shorten the life of your tires.

6. Brake Job or Inspection

Your car’s braking system has brake pads, rotors, and calipers. Eventually, one or all of them will wear out. Brake life depends on several factors, but the most important is how you drive your car. For example, if you drive fast and brake hard as you approach a stoplight, you will run through pads and rotors much quicker than a driver who eases to a stop lightly applying the brakes.

Brake pad manufacturers say you can expect 30,000 to 70,000 miles of use from a set of pads and rotors. Some may need changing sooner, while others can go longer. As they say in this business, “Your mileage may vary.” Depending on your vehicle, a brake job can run from $400 to $1,000.

7. Coolant Flush

coolant fluid

A coolant flush is an often-neglected service item. This fluid prevents engine overheating from the combustion process. Failure to flush and replace the fluid can cause it to break down, making the engine run hotter than its specification. The higher heat can result in a cracked engine block, a blown gasket, or more, which is much more expensive than the cost of the coolant flush itself. A good rule of thumb is to flush your coolant every 30,000 miles. The cost of a coolant flush is in the neighborhood of $150 to $250, depending on your vehicle.

8. Replace the Wipers

There’s nothing more annoying than driving in the rain with streaky wipers that don’t move the water away from your windshield. Installing new wipers is a straightforward repair that doesn’t cost much money compared to other services. Blade sizes vary depending on your vehicle, and different cars have different connection types. Universal-fit wipers are available at every auto parts store, but your dealership parts department will undoubtedly have the exact fit for your vehicle.

Blades typically cost roughly $15 to $25 per wiper and should be replaced as a set. Replacement frequency will vary according to where you live and how often you use them. If you live in a high-temperature climate, the rubber will break down faster than if you live in a more moderate climate.

9. Air conditioning Service

Your car’s air conditioner is a closed system that should provide years of service with minimal maintenance. Eventually, you may find it’s not cooling as it used to, which often signals a refrigerant leak. A mechanic will check and replace any leaky parts and possibly perform an “Evac and Recharge.” The process removes old refrigerant and recharges it to the manufacturer’s specifications. An A/C system is sealed and should theoretically never need service. Hence, a lack of cooling signals what could be a costly repair priced from $250 to around $1,000, depending on your vehicle.

10. Transmission Fluid Change/Flush

car transmission

In the past, transmission fluid flushes were a regular part of vehicle maintenance. Clunky gear changes and other abnormalities usually signaled the need for a transmission fluid flush and perhaps some other services. Modern transmissions do not require maintenance unless they are high-mileage vehicles like police cars or taxis. Most owner’s manuals recommend periodically checking the transmission fluid level and only refilling as needed. When in doubt, have a mechanic check it out. Some manufacturers suggest avoiding flushes entirely because the pressure required to flush the system can loosen debris inside that will clog the transmission oil filter.