2013

State Repair Cost Rankings

Published by CarMD, June 2013

Highlights


When the check engine light illuminates on the dashboard, drivers in New Jersey now pay the most in the nation to have it diagnosed and repaired, at an average cost of $392.99, according to CarMD.com Corporation’s analysis of more than 160,000 repairs made on vehicles with check engine light problems in 2012. Indicating a coastal shift from West to East, and rounding out the top five most expensive U.S. states/districts for auto repair were no. 2 District of Columbia, no. 3 California, no. 4 North Carolina and no. 5 Maryland. Increased frequency of expensive repairs, such as catalytic converter replacement, in those states with higher average repair costs indicates drivers in some areas continue to put off small repairs that spiral into more expensive problems and drive up check engine-related repair costs.

The average cost for check engine light-related repairs in the U.S. in 2012 was $367.84, up 10% from 2011. The Northeast experienced the largest percent increase (11.56%). But the West, historically known for having some of the highest car repair costs, saw only a 6.53% increase in costs. California is the only western state among the top five this year. From 2011 to 2012, vehicle owners in New Jersey saw a 20.7% increase in labor rates and an 8.2% increase in parts costs, making it the state with the highest average parts cost. New Jersey drivers also paid more than the U.S. average for many repairs, including catalytic converter replacement at $1,112.48 per transaction. CarMD attributes this hike to several factors such as more than double the number of trips to the repair shop spurred by Hurricane Sandy-related flood damage that either resulted in new repairs or uncovered unrepaired problems that had been put off for some time.

On a more positive note, as hybrid repair costs across the country trend down, New Jersey owners paid the least to replace a hybrid battery at $2,005.05 on average, as compared with Arizona’s high of $4,409.94. Some factors that can contribute to repair costs include availability of diagnostic capabilities and technicians trained to service these vehicles, as well as vehicle population mix. Catalytic converter repairs were the second most common reason the check engine light came on in three of the five states with the highest repair costs. This is a very pricey part that is often the result of extensive vehicle age, or putting off smaller repairs such as spark plugs or oxygen sensors.

Other key findings


  • The states that pay the most: The 2011 ranking found all five states with the highest repair costs were from the West. For 2012, three hail from the Southeast, one from the Northeast and California remains the only western state among the five states with the highest repair costs
  • The states that pay the least: Two of the five states with the lowest car repair costs are from the Midwest (Iowa and South Dakota) and two are from the South/Southeast (Delaware and West Virginia). Rounding out the most affordable states for auto repair is Vermont, the only Northeastern state to enjoy a drop in average car repair costs in 2012.
  • Year-over-year trends: A majority of states/districts experienced an increase in repair costs in 2012, with the exceptions being Delaware, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
    1. D.C. had the largest increase in repair costs, up 20% from 2011 to 2012. This is partially attributed to the type of repairs being made. Time-consuming repairs that cost over $1,000 accounted for nearly 10% of D.C. repairs in 2012, as compared with 7% in 2011, while quick-fix, gas cap-related problems were down five points.
    2. Wyoming saw the biggest drop with a nearly 17% dip in average repair costs. Some very positive news for Wyoming is catalytic converter replacements have dropped from the second to seventh most common repair, showing drivers in Wyoming are taking better care of their cars and may also be trading in older model vehicles for newer ones.

Stats

CarMD ranking of the five states with the highest check engine light-related car repair costs in 2012

State Average Parts Cost Average Labor Cost Average total car repair cost in 2012
(Parts & Labor)
New Jersey $256.28 $136.71 $392.99
District of Columbia $247.97 $143.65 $391.62
California $247.13 $143.24 $390.37
North Carolina $249.32 $140.59 $389.91
Maryland $250.79 $136.99 $387.78

CarMD ranking of states with the lowest check engine-light related car repair costs in 2012

State Average Parts Cost Average Labor Cost Average total car repair cost in 2012
(Parts & Labor)
Vermont $153.82 $115.90 $269.72
West Virginia $180.16 $130.33 $310.49
South Dakota $182.90 $128.98 $311.88
Delaware $183.23 $130.39 $313.62
Iowa $181.20 $133.57 $314.77

Repair Cost Ranking of ALL U.S. States + District of Columbia in 2012

Ranking State Labor Rate Parts Cost Average Car Repair Cost
(Parts & Labor)
1 New Jersey $136.71 $256.28 $392.99
2 District of Columbia $143.65 $247.97 $391.62
3 California $143.24 $247.13 $390.37
4 North Carolina $140.59 $249.32 $389.91
5 Maryland $136.99 $250.79 $387.78
6 Georgia $143.07 $242.22 $385.29
7 Connecticut $134.50 $260.60 $385.10
8 Colorado $150.75 $233.97 $384.72
9 Virginia $138.36 $243.82 $382.18
10 Oregon $146.72 $233.50 $380.22
11 Florida $138.80 $238.66 $377.46
12 Washington $141.09 $234.21 $375.30
13 Rhode Island $127.58 $243.72 $371.30
14 Utah $149.49 $221.13 $370.62
15 Hawaii $139.37 $230.96 $370.33
16 South Carolina $142.04 $225.56 $367.60
17 Kentucky $138.09 $228.73 $366.82
18 New York $132.49 $232.04 $364.53
19 Texas $139.64 $224.66 $364.30
20 Nevada $139.38 $224.87 $364.25
21 Pennsylvania $137.19 $226.41 $363.60
22 Arizona $142.26 $219.24 $361.50
23 Arkansas $138.91 $222.41 $361.42
24 Montana $144.38 $215.44 $359.82
25 Massachusetts $124.58 $233.79 $358.37
26 Mississippi $138.95 $216.74 $355.69
27 Louisiana $140.05 $213.90 $353.95
28 Tennessee $139.50 $213.81 $353.31
29 Missouri $142.49 $210.22 $352.71
30 Kansas $136.96 $215.36 $352.32
31 Alabama $139.30 $212.72 $352.02
32 Idaho $143.38 $205.38 $348.76
33 Nebraska $137.64 $208.93 $346.57
34 Minnesota $138.45 $207.85 $346.30
35 New Mexico $145.04 $199.71 $344.75
36 North Dakota $139.62 $204.50 $344.12
37 Illinois $132.39 $210.73 $343.12
38 Alaska $142.41 $198.11 $340.52
39 Oklahoma $137.36 $200.52 $337.88
40 Indiana $134.10 $195.21 $329.31
41 Wisconsin $134.81 $193.93 $328.74
42 Ohio $128.18 $200.00 $328.18
43 Maine $133.28 $194.80 $328.08
44 New Hampshire $121.88 $206.12 $328.00
45 Wyoming $134.62 $189.69 $324.31
46 Michigan $134.14 $183.13 $317.27
47 Iowa $133.57 $181.20 $314.77
48 Delaware $130.39 $183.23 $313.62
49 South Dakota $128.98 $182.90 $311.88
50 West Virginia $130.33 $180.16 $310.49
51 Vermont $115.90 $153.82 $269.72
Qbx2013 CarMD State Index