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Prep for the most common winter car repairs

Planning a road trip this holiday season? These are the car parts you're most likely to need repaired during December and January.

If you’re planning on taking a road trip this holiday season, make sure your car is up to the task before you do anything else.

To help you prioritize your repairs, we crunched some data to find the 10 most common car repairs throughout the holiday season and the average cost of each repair. Jump to the summary for the quick version instead.

1. Timing belt replacements

Timing belt replacements are the most common repair requested during December and January, with a 36% increase compared to the monthly average.

We’ll spare you the technical details of how timing belts work (hint: your engine could be seriously damaged if it snaps), but basically, it controls the opening and closing of your engine valves.

Timing chains were also a common repair, coming in at number 13 on our list with a 48% increase during December and January.

How much is a timing belt replacement?

Timing belts can cost $500 on average to replace, with costs reaching $1,000 and beyond depending on the type of engine and your specific make and model.

The average cost of a timing chain replacement also starts at $500 and goes up to $1,500+ depending on the car.

2. Front brake pads

Your front brakes generate 70% of the force that stops your car, so it’s no surprise that they’re the second most common repair needed during the holidays.

Brake pads work in conjunction with brake rotors to create the friction necessary to stop your wheels from turning. In many cases, brakes in need of a repair will make a squealing or grinding noise when you use them, and you may notice a decrease in braking performance.

How much are new front brake pads?

Expect to pay between $150 and $350+ depending on your car make and model and how worn the brake pads are.

Ask an expert: What’s a sign my brakes are shot?

Felix Maxwell

Felix Maxwell
Founder of Junk Car Medics

If you feel any unusual vibrations when you apply your brakes, or you hear grinding noises when you push down on the brake pedal, do not ignore these warning signs! Have your brakes checked out right away. Do not wait.

Those vibrations mean that you could be losing braking performance due to warped rotors. Even worse, the grinding noise could be a telltale sign that you have completely worn out your brake pads, and the metal-to-metal contact is now destroying the rest of your braking system. If you don’t deal with it immediately, your brakes will fail and you will be unable to stop.

3. Windshield replacement and repairs

While roadwork and debris can put your windshield at risk during the warmer months, windshield repairs are actually more common in the winter. The glass is sensitive to cold weather and large shifts in temperature, especially if there’s already a chip or crack.

How much is a windshield repair?

The cost of replacing a windshield can range from $250 to $1,000+ depending on your vehicle and whether or not you have windshield replacement coverage. You might be able to get it repaired instead, but that will depend on the size of the chip or crack. A small crack can be repaired in the $50 to $75 range.

4. Front brake pad and rotor replacements

Much like number two on our list, there’s a moderate increase in the number of people seeking front brake pad and rotor replacements during December and January. Your brake rotors are the shiny metal discs attached to your axle, and they’re what your brake pads push against when you pump the brakes.

How much are brake and rotor replacements?

The cost of replacing your front brake pads and rotors starts at $150 to $300 per wheel, but could be higher depending on your car’s make and model.

5. Clutch replacements

The clutch in your car is responsible for actually transmitting power to the gearbox and allows you to select gears — so it’s an important repair and one that can cause serious damage to your transmission if not carried out quickly.

How much does a new clutch cost?

The cost of replacing a clutch can cost approximately $500 on average for a small car, with costs going up to $1,000+ depending on the car and the driving style.
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6. Rear brake pad replacements

Your brakes are often under more stress during the winter months due to harsh road conditions and colder weather. Combine that with snow, ice and slush, and it’s no wonder why rear brake pad replacements are more common during the holiday season.

How much are rear brake pads?

Rear brake pad replacements cost between $150 and $400+, just slightly higher than front brake pads. As always, this depends on your car and the type of pads you need.

7. Spark plug replacements

While spark plugs aren’t directly affected by the weather, spark plug replacements seem to be more common in the winter. Not replacing your old spark plug can cause your engine to misfire and also lead to poor fuel usage.

How much is a spark plug replacement?

Spark plug replacements cost between $120 and $400+, again depending on your specific car and the type of plugs needed.

8. Transmission fluid service

Transmission fluid helps to keep your gearbox lubricated and cool, so get it checked before a long road trip.

How much is a transmission fluid service?

A routine flush of old fluid and a replacement of new fluid can cost between $100 and $200, with exact costs based on the car type and fluid chosen.

9. Side mirror replacements

Having a broken side mirror makes a road trip even more difficult. It’s also easy for them to get swiped while on a long road trip, which is why side mirror replacements feature at number nine on our list.

How much will you pay for a broken side mirror?

As always, the cost of replacing a side mirror will vary depending on the car — but prices start around $150 and can cost as much as $500+.

10. Battery replacements

Your road trip will be over before it starts if you have a broken or dead battery. And while you might be able to get roadside assistance if your battery fails while you’re away from home, it powers the various electrical parts of your car, so it’s important to get it checked before your road trip.

How much is a battery replacement?

You can expect to pay approximately $100 to $250+ for a battery, depending on the car.


More than 2.6 million cars will need some kind of repair this holiday season, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There’s a chance your car could be one of them, and those odds go up with worse winter weather. Be prepared for these common car repairs during winter to save yourself stress during your holiday travels.

Most likely winter repairs

Compare the most common car problems you’re likely to run into this winter.

Top 10 winter car repairsIncrease in winter
Timing belt replacements36%
Front brake pad replacements17%
Windshield replacement/repairs155%
Front brake pad and rotor replacements20%
Clutch replacements40%
Rear brake pad replacements22%
Spark plug replacements56%
Transmission fluid service29%
Side mirror replacements126%
Battery replacements119%

Most expensive winter repairs

Prepare your emergency fund for these expensive winter repairs, ranked from most expensive to least.

Top 10 winter car repairsAverage repair cost
Windshield replacement/repairs$625
Timing belt replacements$500
Clutch replacements$500
Side mirror replacements$325
Rear brake pad replacements$275
Spark plug replacements$260
Front brake pad replacements$250
Front brake pad and rotor replacements$225
Battery replacements$175
Transmission fluid service$150

Bottom line

Road trips are a fun way to see the country and bond with your friends or family, but it’s important to be prepared. Consider your car’s health a few weeks before you leave in order to sort out any issues that could potentially ruin your trip. Make sure you have the right car insurance and optional extras so you can enjoy the scenery from behind the wheel instead of the side of the road.

Richard Laycock headshot

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Richard Laycock, Insights editor and senior content marketing manager


/in/richardlaycock/ /aleksvee/

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