Fixing a broken headlight used to be as cheap as $10 for a new bulb -- but break one of the fancy LED headlights on the new Toyota Corolla compact, and it will set you back $737 to replace.
Break the outside rear-view mirror on the Nissan Versa Note subcompact, not rare in cities where it is likely to be sold, and just the parts can run $595. If the car has the optional safety and parking system, the pod has a camera in it.
These are just some of common auto parts susceptible to damage or wear that used to cost more than $100 to fix -- and now can cost hundreds, even thousands. "Obviously, there's sticker shock," says Bob Keith, senior training director for Carstar, a chain of franchised auto body shops.
Automakers are packing more technology into even mundane parts, and car buyers want even more. Even an ordinary part now may contain sensors, computer chips or other whiz-bang features. The result is a lot more safety and convenience, but with risk of backlash for automakers or their dealers when it's time to replace or fix parts.
"It's not that they are shafting customers," says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. Rather, "they are putting more technology in these parts." Upgrades are no longer just on luxury cars, where owners might expect high tabs.
•Headlights.The beams now are halogen, xenon or, increasingly, costly LEDs. Fisher says the LED low-beams on the 2014 Corolla are among the best CRhas tested for their light, and LEDs last far longer than other lights. But if it goes bad or you bump something and break it, the fix is costly.
•Tires. The humble tire, in some cases, is now a high-tech wonder. More automakers are turning to run-flat tires to eliminate the weight of a spare and raise gas mileage. Goodyear says a single run-flat Eagle NCT 5EMT, standard on some performance cars, lists for $296. But even some less sporty vehicles, such as the Toyota Sienna minivan with all-wheel drive, come with standard run-flats.
•Batteries. Replacing a dead lead-acid starter battery used to mean $80. Now, more new cars have hybrid-assist systems with sophisticated battery packs. The batteries last many years, but should you have to replace one on, say, a 2000 to 2005 Toyota Prius, the list price is $3,649, according to Toyota.
•Mirrors. Outside mirrors, which get broken off in everyday mishaps or by vandals, now often contain electronic blind-spot warnings, cameras or other features.
Costs can vary, even on the same car. A left-side mirror on a Honda Accord EX is $250 to replace; the right side, which has a camera for Honda's LaneWatch blind-spot system, is $341.
That's a bargain, though, compared with the outside mirrors on a 2013 Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup.
The fanciest replacements cost $1,260 on the Ford Parts site. They are power-adjusted, heated, have a built-in turn signal and have two panes to aid towing, Ford spokesman Mike Levine says.
Inside mirrors, which can bust if you bump one, can be pricey, too. The mirror in a 2013 Ford Fusion may have an embedded sensor that turns on the wipers when it detects rain on the windshield. A replacement costs $1,196 at Ford Parts.
Increasingly sophisticated car engines, meanwhile, may have multiple computers.
Replacing just one can run to $2,000, says Will Jones of car repair advice website CarMD.com.
The only way to avoid the high prices is to skip the latest gadgets. "The more technology you have, the more there is to break," Fisher says.
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