At some point, even if you take care of your car, you’re probably going to need to replace a part on it.
After taking your car to the mechanic, you’ll probably learn that the cost of replacing the part is quite expensive.
Considering that many car parts are quite tiny or basic, the expense of the part may surprise you.
It may make you wonder why car parts are expensive in the first place.
Why Are Car Parts So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
Car parts can be as inexpensive as a few dollars and go up to several thousand dollars.
The demand for that part, what material it’s made of, and whether it’s mass-produced or customized all influence the price of car parts.
Let’s take a look at these reasons in more detail.
1. Rising Costs
A primary reason car parts are so expensive is the rising costs associated with the parts.
Certain parts made of certain materials tend to cost more because those materials cost more now than they did before.
Aluminum, for example, has grown more expensive over time.
Aluminum is a popular material because it doesn’t rust.
For cars in certain regions that see salt exposure, that’s an important feature.
Aluminum is also lightweight.
That’s ideal for manufacturers because lighter cars tend to travel faster.
It’s easier to make high-performance cars out of them.
Aluminum is also slightly greener than other materials used in part manufacturing.
That appeases states with tight regulations about carbon emissions conducted by car manufacturers.
The problem with those materials is that they’ve become more expensive.
Part of the reason has to do with demand.
Since some materials are of higher quality, more people want them.
However, there’s usually only so much available at any one time.
Those who want the material have to pay more for it.
Other costs might also affect the price of the material.
Higher labor costs, taxes, import or export fees, or anything else can influence the price if those factors rise in price, too.
When the materials to make the parts are expensive, the part becomes expensive in turn.
That’s because the manufacturer has to sell them at higher prices to earn a sizable profit and cover their expenses.
2. Tight Supply Chains
Another big problem influencing the price of car parts is tight supply chains.
When supply chains become disrupted, it sends the whole market into disarray.
Cheap products rely on an efficient supply chain.
When the supply chain is efficient, it means it’s easy for the company to produce enough products that meet demand.
When problems occur in the supply chain, it means parts manufacturers are not able to produce as many products.
They’re unable to meet demand, so the price of the product increases.
There’s no shortage of problems that have hit the supply chain for car products.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the start of it.
When factories, particularly chip companies, closed down, it meant there weren’t any new parts leaving the factory.
Even with the majority of people sheltering at home, it put the supply chain in debt for those parts.
As people started to drive once more, they found themselves in need of new parts.
However, because of the deficit in the supply chain, there were only a few parts available.
With the demand being the same as it always was, the few parts that were in the market were quickly snatched up.
Even as factories opened up and started producing new parts, the demand for those parts was already too high.
It’d take a long time before the supply was able to finally start meeting demand.
In the meantime, because demand was higher than supply, it meant higher prices for the products.
Closed factories aren’t the only thing affecting the supply chain either.
A shortage of truck drivers and shipping containers also contributed to it.
Even with some of those issues resolved, there’s still a shortage of parts.
As such, the price for the parts that are on the market is quite high.
3. Higher Labor Costs
Labor costs are another reason car parts are so expensive.
Working in factories is grueling work.
Not every factory pays their workers fairly either.
Some pay their workers the bare minimum.
When factories closed during the pandemic, workers realized their worth.
When the factories reopened, not everyone went back to work willingly.
Some demanded higher wages.
They understood that they were risking their health by working in a factory while the pandemic was still ongoing.
Some factories, eager to get workers back to their assembly lines, raised their wages.
Many factory workers now earn more than they used to.
This impacts the price of car parts because it means that the manufacturer has to pay more money.
Not every manufacturer will raise its prices.
Those that do likely do so to ensure they’re able to still get the number of profits that they’re used to seeing.
The more specialized the part is, the more expensive it’s likely going to be.
That’s because special parts usually require factory workers of higher skill levels.
Those workers tend to get paid more than the average factory worker.
If they get higher wages, too, then that’s also going to impact the price of car parts.
4. Infrequent Purchases
Buying parts for your car isn’t something you do all the time.
Unless you’re someone who works on cars as a hobby or professionally, you probably only buy a part when something is wrong with your car.
You may take it to the auto shop where they inform you that they’ll need to buy a part for it.
You’ll get charged for the part as well as their service.
In most cases, you only need to buy a part once in a blue moon.
If you have a car that breaks down often, then you probably need to buy parts more often.
However, most parts manufacturers price their parts with the belief that they’re infrequent purchases.
People don’t buy them that often.
As such, they’re able to get away with slightly higher prices.
Since the individual doesn’t pay for parts that often, they’re more willing to spend more on them.
If it’s something that they buy a lot and frequently, then the manufacturers would likely have to lower their prices if this occurred widescale.
There would be a mass need for that specific part.
Since the manufacturing company would need to mass produce the item, it’d allow them to produce it at cheaper prices.
Most people aren’t buying parts all the time, however.
As such, manufacturers don’t need to mass produce the item.
They only produce a few, then mark them at an expensive price point.
Manufacturers need to ensure that they’re able to make a profit over time since they’re not constantly selling parts on a massive scale.
To make the most, they sell car parts at a high price.
5. Increased DIY Repairs
Car parts are more expensive because there are more people doing DIY repairs.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave people a lot of time at home.
It allowed people to try out a few things on their own.
One of the things that some people did was try to take on projects by themselves.
In particular, they started trying to repair or maintain certain aspects of their cars.
Youtube is one of the reasons behind this trend toward DIY repairs.
Expert mechanics share their wisdom on their channels.
Some even show a step-by-step process on how to fix certain things.
People looking to save money on repairs might watch those videos, then decide to try and repair their car themselves.
As such, they’re the ones who buy the part directly.
If they were to go to an auto repair shop, the shop would buy the part, then put it on the car for the car owner.
The customer still pays for the part, but it’s the shop that makes the purchase initially.
Repairing your car yourself cuts out the middleman.
This has made car parts more expensive, however, because it means more people are trying to buy those parts on their own.
An auto repair shop may have a partnership with a shop or even a manufacturer.
When they need a part, they might get it at a special discount or they might be able to rely on speedy delivery.
If you’re buying the part on your own, then you don’t have those advantages.
You have to go to the store and buy the part yourself.
Since there are more DIYers interested in one part, there’s more demand for a low supply of that part.
The price increases as a result.
Car parts are expensive because DIYers have increased demand for car parts.
6. More Used Cars On The Road
New cars tend to need fewer repairs than older cars.
New cars have brand-new parts.
Used cars don’t have that luxury.
If you buy a used car, then there’s a good chance the parts are still the original parts that the car had when it was new.
Some dealerships may refurbish certain parts, but they only do that to the parts that look bad.
As such, after buying a used car, you likely find yourself needing a repair sooner rather than later.
There’s also a trend towards buying used cars over newer cars.
Since there are more used cars on the road, there are more people in need of repairs.
Even outside of accidents, used cars just break down faster than new cars.
With more drivers in used cars on the road, there’s a higher number of people who are going to need an auto shop’s services.
This impacts the price of car parts because there’s a higher demand for them.
If more people were driving new cars, then there wouldn’t be as high of a demand.
New cars don’t need repairs as quickly.
As such, if there are more new cars on the road, then it means there are fewer drivers seeking repairs.
Supply and demand would be a bit more equal.
That isn’t the case currently.
With more used cars on the road, it leads to higher demand for car parts which also leads to higher prices.
7. Cars Last Longer
Besides buying used cars more often than new cars, car parts are also expensive because cars are lasting longer.
Long gone are the days when someone would only drive a car for a few years before buying a new one.
Manufacturers are building cars to last because they know that their buyers want long-lasting cars.
Some cars even get passed down through the generations.
Even if the car is barely holding it together, some families will still pass it down to the next generation.
A large part of the reason cars are lasting longer is that manufacturers are using higher qualities of parts.
Car manufacturing continues to innovate itself.
From the steam engine to the combustion engine to the cars that use electricity, manufacturers continue to redefine what it means to be a car.
Through those large innovations, there have also been smaller ones.
Those smaller innovations have allowed cars to last longer.
Since they last longer, the owners are more likely to hold onto them instead of selling them.
However, in holding onto them, they also have to do more repairs on them.
With more people holding onto their cars due to their longevity, more people need car parts.
This increases the price of car parts because it means there’s a higher demand for them.
Car parts are expensive because the demand for them is higher due to how long cars can last these days.
8. Complex Repairs
You may find that the car part you need to buy is expensive because the repair itself is complex.
Many cars have complicated engines or systems that involve tons of smaller parts.
Some have large parts.
Others have intricate and delicate parts.
All those parts work together to make the engine run.
When something goes wrong, the mechanic may tell you that it’s going to be a complicated repair.
It may be a rare part that has become damaged.
It may be a part that’s in an area that’s tough to reach.
Whatever the reason, if the repair is complex, then it probably needs a specialized part.
This makes car parts expensive because those specialized parts have even less production than car parts as a whole.
Since the manufacturers don’t make as many of them, they have to sell them at high prices to earn a profit over time.
9. Patented Parts
Some cars use parts that are specific to their brand.
These are parts that have a patent on them.
The problem with patented parts is that they’re more expensive than non-patented parts.
That’s because the only place to get them is directly from the manufacturer of the car.
Since the manufacturer controls the supply, they’re able to price those parts as high as they want to.
If the part costs the manufacturer a lot to produce, then they’re probably going to put an even higher price tag on it.
Even small and simple parts might have an expensive price tag on them because the manufacturer knows they’re the only source for those parts.
When manufacturers have a monopoly on certain parts, they’re able to set the price as high as they want.
10. Associated Costs
A final reason car parts are expensive is that you’re usually buying them with something else.
The most common associated cost is labor.
If you took your car to the auto repair shop, then it isn’t just the car part you’re paying for.
You’re also paying for the shipping of that part to the shop as well as the labor of the mechanic to switch out the parts on your car.
Depending on the complexity of the repair, labor costs alone could make the overall bill quite expensive.
Car parts are expensive because you rarely end up paying for only the price of the part.
Car parts are necessary to keep your car running.
However, certain car parts can quickly become very expensive.
Expensive materials, patented parts, and demand are all reasons car parts can be so expensive.