Drivers have been warned about six of the most expensive car repairs they may have to face – with some repair bills potentially running into the thousands. Car experts from have researched and revealed the mechanical problems that could most leave motorists out of pocket and explained what to watch out for to ensure defects are caught early on.

Keeping and running a car can be expensive, especially when parts break and need to be fixed or replaced. Taking good care of vehicles and maintaining them properly can prevent some hefty repair bills, but not all – many vehicle components simply deteriorate over time and there’s not much that can be done to stop it.

The best thing drivers can do is be mindful of how their own vehicle operates, so they’re able to quickly detect if it’s not running as usual. Identifying and fixing problems early on can save issues worsening and causing further, more expensive damage in the long run.

1. Catalytic converter

Symptoms of this issue to look out for include increased fuel consumption and emissions, vehicles not accelerating as well as usual, or engines cutting out or running rough. If your car fails its emissions test, this can also be a sign. Catalytic converter parts are likely to cost anything from £150-£850, so when you factor in the cost of the labour, you could be looking at a repair bill around £1000!

2. Clutch

If your vehicle’s clutch pedal feels spongy to press down and has an increasingly high biting point, you have difficulty changing gears, or there’s a burning smell whilst driving, chances are the clutch may need replacing. This process is a pretty big job and takes a number of hours to do, costing around £450 on average.

3. Alternator

The alternator keeps your car’s battery charged. If your car’s alternator is faulty, your car might be difficult or slow to start, there may be a smell of rubber burning, or whirring and squealing noises could be coming from the engine. Depending on the vehicle, it costs between £150-£300 to repair or replace a broken car alternator.

4. Head gasket

Head gasket repairs can be extremely expensive and difficult to resolve, but catching the problem early can prevent huge repair fees. Signs of a faulty head gasket can include the temperature gauge being higher than normal, cars chugging or suffering a loss of power, engine oil being thicker than usual, or a lot of white smoke being emitted from the exhaust or liquid dripping from the same place. The average cost of a head gasket repair in the UK is around £550-£600.

5. Timing belt

The timing belt – also known as the cambelt – synchronises the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft, regulating the way your engine works. If it cracks, tears, or snaps, it can cause a whole heap of damage that doesn’t come cheap. Replacing it can take several hours’ work and the bill can vary from around £200 to over £1,000.

6. Radiator

Replacing a car radiator can set you back between £250-£750 but ignoring a radiator leak can lead to even costlier problems. Stay on top of radiator maintenance by looking for pools of coolant that have leaked under your car, a frequently overheating engine, or coolant levels which drop rapidly.