How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Car’s Electrical System?
Owning and maintaining a vehicle can be expensive. When your car’s electrical system acts up, it’s important to get a diagnosis from a qualified mechanic right away. Doing so could save you from being stranded or from having to pay for more extensive and expensive automotive repairs.
Spotting a faulty electrical system
Your vehicle’s electrical system is responsible for starting your car, powering the lights, and running various other crucial systems. Problems with your battery, ignition system, wiring or grounding require help from a professional to properly diagnose and fix.
Here are some of the warning signs that your vehicle’s electrical system requires immediate attention:
|Sign of an electrical issue||Potential cause|
|Clicking noise when you turn the key to start the car||Old or faulty battery or alternator|
|Grinding noise when you turn the key to start the car||Faulty flywheel ring gear or bad starter|
|Headlights, brake lights, turn signals or interior illumination not working properly||Low system voltage due to loose wires, malfunctioning alternator belt, or dying battery|
|You smell burning plastic or electrical insulation in combination with dimming lights or problems starting your vehicle||Electrical malfunction or a short circuit – stop driving immediately and have your car towed to a shop to have the problem diagnosed by experts|
|Specific electrical accessory, like power windows or radio isn’t working||Blown fuse|
|Fuses that blow out more than once in a short period of time||Short circuit or electrical fault; neglecting the issue could lead to much more expensive problems with your car’s electrical system|
|Disabled traction control light illuminated on the dashboard||Low system voltage possibly due to a loose or cracked alternator belt|
|The vehicle starts but won’t stay running||Malfunctioning alternator|
|Battery light is on and dashboard lights flicker or are dim||Malfunctioning voltage regulator|
|Slow functioning accessories or pause before starter turns||Burned out or failed fusible link|
|Electrical components not working or car makes a clicking noise when you turn the key||Corroded battery cables|
|Car horn not working or clicking noise when you push the horn button||Fusible link failure|
This is not an exhaustive list. Cars show different symptoms of electrical problems depending on their model and age. If your vehicle seems to have an electrical problem, don’t hesitate to get it inspected by a mechanic right away. Waiting could lead to dangerous driving situations or cause further damage to your car’s major systems.
Costs to repair a car’s electrical system
Car electrical repair costs vary wildly, depending on factors such as the type of car you drive, its age, and where you get service. This table shows a range of prices for common electrical system repairs at a dealership’s repair shop.
The price you pay for labor and parts may be lower if you find the right mechanic and they are not affiliated with a car dealership. If you know the specific repairs your car needs, be sure to call several shops to get different 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.
The following cost estimates are from a mobile auto repair service. But, again, your actual costs are likely to vary.
|Car repair||Average cost|
|Replace battery cables||$125-$400|
How to pay for car repairs
Electrical system repairs can take a toll on your bank account. 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.
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) permits federal credit unions to grant PALs to members who have had an account there for at least one month.
Terms of a PAL are dependent on your credit union or bank’s policies, so it’s crucial to check with them to understand your options. The NCUA allows credit unions to charge up to $20 to apply for a PAL. The amount of the loan, if approved, can be between $200 and $1,000. Loan terms are between one and six months.
- No credit check
- Fast approval if you meet the bank or credit union’s criteria
- Same-day access to cash
- Simple processes
- High APR compared to other loan options
- High fees compared to other loan options
- Low loan amounts of $200 to $1,000
- Not available at every bank or credit union
Avoid traditional payday loans
Payday loans, also known as “cash advances,” have a reputation for taking advantage of consumers who may be living paycheck-to-paycheck. Payday loans are legal in 32 states, and the rules about interest rates and fees vary depending on where you live.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 4 out of 5 payday loan borrowers either roll their loan over into a new payday loan, incurring even more interest and fees, or default on the loan. 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.
With a personal loan, you’ll make a set number of payments that remain the same from month-to-month. The interest rate is fixed throughout the life of the loan. Typically, loan terms range from 12 months to seven years. With a traditional loan, you won’t have to provide collateral to secure it.
You can use a personal loan for a variety of reasons. But the key to using a personal loan responsibly is to only borrow what you need and 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.
With a traditional personal loan, your credit will be taken into account to determine your eligibility once you apply. A higher credit score can help you get approved for a larger loan with a lower interest rate. Check with your bank or credit union, as well. They may be able to offer a short-term loan with good terms that will help you pay your car repair bill.
If you aren’t aware of what’s in your credit file, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. You have the legal right to see your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion once every 12 months.
Potential lenders also consider your ability to pay back a personal loan. They’ll use your income to calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio by taking your total monthly debt obligations divided by your gross monthly income. While acceptable DTI levels vary depending on the lender, 35% or less is ideal.
If you decide to pay for important repairs to your car’s electrical system with a personal loan, it’s crucial to make sure the monthly payments fit into your budget. Making every payment on time could help boost your credit score, making it easier to access credit products in the future.
- Predictable monthly payments
- Easy to access a variety of lenders online
- Can be an easy way to get fast access to cash needed for crucial car repairs
- Difficult to get approval for credit-challenged individuals
- Payments may put a strain on the budget
- Can take a long time to pay off a large repair bill
0% introductory interest credit card
With an introductory 0% interest 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 promotional period of six to 21 months. If you can pay off the balance during that time, you’ll save money on interest charges.
Good credit is a requirement for approval with companies offering introductory 0% interest credit cards. When shopping for an intro zero-interest credit card, look for one that doesn’t have an annual fee or a penalty rate.
- Save money on interest charges during the promotional period
- Can make the minimum payment
- Limited time to pay off the repair bill before interest rates go up
- Not available to credit-challenged individuals
- Can take seven to 10 business days to be approved for and receive a credit card
Maintaining your car is essential
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.
Don’t assume that your vehicle’s factory warranty or extended warranty will pay for electrical system repairs. Get into the habit of setting aside a small amount of money each month to help cover unexpected car problems if you don’t already.
When it’s time to make repairs to your car’s electrical system, weigh your options for financing the bill carefully. Payday loans are the most expensive and have the worst reputation for taking advantage of people who are already in a difficult situation. Credit cards with an introductory 0% interest are a good option if you have the means and discipline to pay them off within the introductory period. With set monthly payments and quick access to money upon approval, getting a personal loan is a smart choice for people who can’t pay for unexpected electrical car repairs out of their savings.