Most Common Repairs — Half Fly Under the Radar

We asked visitors to TrueDelta’s Facebook page to guess the 20 most commonly reported repairs. Ten were guessed, another ten have been flying under the radar. Is there any pattern to the way perceptions don’t match reality, of the car parts most likely to need work?

One note before getting to the list: none of the most commonly repaired parts are internal to the engine or transmission. And now, the list, with items not guessed marked with a **.

1. wheel bearing
2. struts**
3. water pump
4. tie-rod (usually just an end)**
5. stabilizer bar end links
6. A/C recharge (usually indicates a leak)
7. shock absorber**
8. suspension control arm**
9. O2 sensor
10. brake caliper**
11. CV joint / axle
12. engine mount**
13. ignition coil
14. catalytic converter
15. alternator
16. exhaust flex pipe**
17. headlight bulb**
18. A/C compressor
19. ball joint**
20. thermostat**

“Headlight bulb” probably wasn’t guessed because most are cheap and easy to change, so many people barely think of them as a repair. But an increasing number are difficult and, with labor, can be expensive to change.

Same with thermostats. Some are cheap and easy. Some are far from it.

Exhaust–why did no one guess this? Maybe because exhausts last much longer than they used to. Back in the day there were car repair chains that focused on exhaust systems, there was so much work in the area.

Brake calipers–while I didn’t count pads and rotors, which may have led people to ignore the braking system completely, there are brake parts other than pads and rotors. Calipers seize up and require replacement fairly often, especially since they’re not maintained as thoroughly as they used to be. I think this is because calipers have become cheaper to replace once every few years than to maintain annually.

Motor mount–no one thinks of motor mounts until they have to replace one.

Now for the final five–they’re all suspension parts. People focus on the engine and transmission, which don’t often fail, while much more common suspension repairs fly beneath the radar.

People might have ignored struts and shock absorbers as wear items, but their failure isn’t nearly as predictable as tires and brake pads, so we include them.

But what about tie-rod ends, control arms, and ball joints? I’m especially surprised no one guessed the first.

And control arms? Combined with ball joints, which often cannot be replaced separately, they’d be #2. Combined with both ball joints and control arm bushings, which cannot or at least are not replaced separately on many cars, they’d be #1–the most commonly repaired part of the car.