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How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Car’s Electrical System?

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Owning and maintaining a vehicle is expensive, so it’s important to act proactively and set aside money in your emergency fund to cover unexpected repairs. When your car’s electrical system acts up, get a diagnosis from a qualified mechanic right away. Doing so could save you from being stranded on the road or from having to pay for more extensive and expensive automotive repairs down the line.

Find out how much it costs to repair your car’s electrical system, as well as how to pay for those electrical repairs, in this guide:

Costs to repair a car’s electrical system

As with other types of repairs, car electrical repair costs vary wildly, depending on the type of car you drive, how old it is and where you live. This table shows a range of prices for common electrical system repairs at a dealership’s repair shop:


How much it costs to fix car electrical problems
Car repair Average cost
Replace battery  $220-$270
Replace battery cables $125-$400
Replace alternator $290-$680
Replace fuse $110-$140
Replace starter $290-$995

The price you pay for labor and parts may be lower if you shop around to find the right mechanic and compare price quotes. If your vehicle is under warranty, you may be required to have any diagnostic services and repairs that will be completed at select repair shops, free of charge. Always check your warranty before paying for vehicle repairs.

How to pay for car repairs

Electrical system repairs can come up unexpectedly, and you may not have the funds on hand to deal with an emergency expense. If you need help paying for repairs to your car’s electrical system but don’t have the money right now, you have a few options for financing the bill:

Personal loan

A personal loan is a lump-sum loan that’s repaid in fixed installments over a set number of months or years. The APR is fixed throughout the life of the loan. Typically, loan terms range from one to five years but can be longer. With an unsecured personal loan, you won’t have to provide collateral to secure it.

You can use a personal loan for a variety of reasons, including to pay for electrical repairs made to your car. With a traditional personal loan, your credit will be heavily weighed to determine your eligibility once you apply. A higher credit score can help you get approved for a larger loan with a lower APR. Subprime borrowers may be offered extremely high APRs, if they’re approved for a personal loan at all.

The key to using a personal loan responsibly is to take time to compare lenders. For example, you may get prequalified on a personal loan through different lenders to see the rates and terms you may qualify for on LendingTree’s online personal loan marketplace.

Pros
✔️You can repay the cost of repairs in predictable monthly payments.
✔️You have easy access to a variety of lenders online.
✔️Fast funding makes it ideal for emergency car repairs.

Cons
❌You’ll be paying interest on your car repairs.
❌Payments can put a strain on your budget.
❌Borrowers with bad or even fair credit may not be approved.

0% introductory APR credit card

With an introductory 0% APR credit card, you can enjoy interest-free financing for a limited time to pay unexpected car electrical repair costs. The offer is generally for a period of up to 21 months. If you can pay off the balance during that time, you’ll avoid paying interest altogether.

You’ll need good credit to be approved for a credit card with an introductory 0% APR offer. When shopping for an intro zero-interest credit card, look for one that doesn’t have an annual fee or a penalty rate.

Pros
✔️You’ll avoid paying interest if you pay the balance in full during the intro period.
✔️You may be able to earn rewards like cash back.

Cons
❌You have a limited amount of time to pay off the repair bill interest-free.
❌Not all borrowers will qualify for this type of financing.
❌Charging your credit card can affect your credit utilization and lower your credit score.

Payday alternative loan

If you have a bank account or credit union account with a stable history and direct deposit of your paycheck, you may qualify for a payday alternative loan (PAL). The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) started the PAL program to give borrowers with a less-than-ideal credit history an alternative to costly payday loans.


Payday alternative loans at a glance
TERMS
Loan amount $200 to $2,000
Loan length 1 to 12 months
Max APR 28%
Max fees $20 application fee

The issue with PALs is that the program is limited, and they may be hard to find. Check with your local credit union: If they don’t offer PALs, they may still offer small, low-interest personal loans with a lower APR than you’d find at a traditional bank.

Pros
✔️APRs are capped at 28% and application fees are capped at $20.
✔️May be available to borrowers with bad credit or no credit.

Cons
❌Limited availability makes these loans hard to find.
❌Loan amounts are capped at $2,000.

Avoid traditional payday loans: Payday loan lenders have a reputation for taking advantage of consumers who may be living paycheck to paycheck. They provide quick access to funding without a credit check but come with astronomical APRs and fees. Four out of five payday loan borrowers roll their loan over into a new payday loan, incurring even more interest and fees, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is known as a debt trap, and it could destroy access to crucial banking services in the future for borrowers by triggering a cascade of penalties and fees.

Going forward: Maintain your car and build your emergency fund

The best way to minimize repair charges is to stick with the manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule and work with a mechanic that can help you stay aware of emerging problems. By adhering to scheduled auto maintenance, you can reduce the chances that you’ll be surprised by a pricey electrical repair down the road.

Don’t assume that your vehicle’s factory warranty or extended warranty will pay for electrical system repairs. Get into the habit of budgeting a small amount of money each month into your emergency fund, which can be used to pay for auto repairs in a pinch. Use the budgeting spreadsheet below to create a budget and start building your emergency fund:

 

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