7 Car Problems That Can Be Fixed for Under $100

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Brake Job | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Brake Job | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

If something were going to break, this would probably have to be the best scenario imaginable: Even if it were just the cupholder in our car snapping we would more than likely curse, but in the grand scheme of things, spending a hundred bucks to guarantee that you fixed a completely kaput component on your car really isn’t all that bad.

There are just so many elements within the modern automobile nowadays, that eventually something is going to go horribly wrong, and if it’s small enough to be ignored by your insurance provider, you’ll be stuck coughing up the repair costs. Externally, internally, or mechanically, the woes associated with car ownership know no bounds, and the older or rarer the vehicle, the more intense your migraine will be.

But don’t lose hope yet, because there are plenty of affordable repairs out there that warrant mentioning. Naturally, if you own something like a Rolls Royce or a classic Benz you won’t be able to fix the following maladies for under a hundred bucks, but then again, we don’t think you’d care very much if you had the greenbacks for cars like these in the first place.

Granted, some of the following are DIY fixes, while others rely heavily upon having a trusty mechanic that won’t overcharge, so be sure to keep that in mind when reading. Also, while there are plenty of other inexpensive fixes out there, for the sake of time and space we have stuck with seven options, and have omitted dealer prices for the new replacement parts in favor of components sourced online or from local stores. So without further deliberation, here are seven automotive fixes that can be completed for well under $100, labor and parts included.

1. A Snapped Antenna

Antenna | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Antenna | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

This isn’t something you see so much on newer cars, as shark fin designs and windshield integrated antennas have now become the streamlined norm. But on older vehicles, where extendable units popped out of the trunk in search of a stronger AM signal, the threat of a bent antenna was a big one. Fortunately, replacement antennas and bases can be fixed for next to nothing online, leaving older vehicle owners with a better product, while newer cars only require unthreading the snapped stem and twisting on a new unit.

2. Sagging Hangers

ATLP Performance Exhaust | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

ATLP Performance Exhaust | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Something has to hold your exhaust up to the underside of your car without causing it to clank or drag, and unless you’re rocking some crazy stiff polyurethane hangers, chances are that older exhaust of yours is close to collapse. For around $10 a pop, you can have a worn hanger replaced, and for a few dollars more you can upgrade to the aforementioned poly setup so that you’ll never have to worry about sagging, dry rot, and rips again.

3. Lug Nuts and/or Studs

Hub, Studs, and Lugs | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Hub, Studs, and Lugs | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

This is typically a “choose one or the other” kind of fix, because once you add up all of those studs, and the time required to install them, you’re likely right at the $100 mark. Granted, if you’re the handy DIY type you can have all of this fixed for just under a hundred. These drop-forged lug nuts from Muteki, for example, can be found all day long for under $50 a set on eBay and Amazon.

4. Stuck Thermostats

Thermostat | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Thermostat | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Easily fixed and totally affordable, a stuck thermostat’s replacement typically involves more mechanic fees than material costs. Just be sure that when upgrading that you spend the extra few bucks and get the lower temp thermostat, as it will almost always yield more aggressive cooling characteristics and a longer lifespan.

5. Wiper Transmissions, Motors, and Regulators

Wiper Transmission | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Wiper Transmission | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Don’t you hate it when your wiper blades slap the crap out of your car’s A-pillar only to crash downward and directly into the plastic cowl beneath your windshield? This frustrating phenomena is most commonly caused by snapped plastic teeth on an old wiper regulator or transmission unit, and typically has nothing to do with the motor itself. Having said that, it is often advisable to have all of the above fixed at once, and if you have the tools and the time, this solution will often cost less than $100 after shopping around.

6. Window Regulators

Dorman Window Regulator | Source: Dorman

Dorman Window Regulator | Source: Dorman

Much like the wiper issue above, window regulators chip teeth and where out other moving components over time, thus causing glass to rattle when opening or closing, roll up unevenly, or not work at all past a certain point. Opting for a brand new unit from an auto parts store and having a trusty mechanic install one typically sets you back an even hundred dollars. 

7. Door Handles

Door Handle | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Door Handle | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

On older cars, it was hit or miss when it came to door handles, as they were either composed entirely of bulletproof metal or a cheap plastic material that was surely recycled out of unwanted happy meal toys. For the latter, all it took was one yank too many and — SNAP! — there goes the handle part of the equation. Luckily, aftermarket replacements are cheap as chips and easily accessible, so hop online and see what is available. Just be sure to double check the part’s color options, because the last thing anyone wants to discover is that they’ve just fixed their problem with a mismatched replacement door handle.

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