2013

Vehicle Health Index

Published by CarMD, April 2013

Highlights



In a return to pre-recession rates, car repair costs across the U.S. were up 10% in 2012 after a nearly six-year trend of decreased repair costs.

  • Average labor costs were up 17% and parts costs were up 6% over the previous year.
  • All but one of the 10 most common repairs saw an increase in repair costs.

The gap between the most and least affordable regions for auto repairs has narrowed, but repair costs rose across each region with the Northeast experiencing the greatest increase.

  • In 2012, drivers in the Western U.S. paid the most for car repairs at an average cost of $360.89, which was 14% more than drivers in the Midwest, who paid the least ($309.75). However, in 2011 drivers in the West paid 17% more than drivers in the Midwest.
  • Northeast drivers were hit hardest with an 11.56% increase in car repair costs, adding insult to injury after Hurricane Sandy.

Each of the five most common check engine problems will negatively affect your car’s fuel economy if you ignore it and keep driving.

Heat affects car parts. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2012 marked the hottest year on record for the lower 48 states. Heat and dry climate can cause premature aging of many parts, including a car’s battery, transmission and more.

  • Battery and transmission-related repairs are among the parts that saw an increase in repair frequency, which can be partially attributed to their sensitivity to heat.

As the average vehicle age has reached an all-time high of 11 years and rising, expensive and catastrophic repairs are rising with it.

  • A year ago, the 15 most expensive repairs accounted for 0.83% of repairs seen by CarMD’s network of automotive technicians. Last year that number rose to 1.03% of repairs. Thankfully this number is still small when compared with the 15 least expensive repairs, which account for 7.28% of repair shop visits.


Hybrid repairs continue to drop with increased volume of hybrids on the road, as well as more parts available and people trained to service them.

Hybrids account for four of the top 10 most expensive repairs, but no longer hold the no.1 spot.

  • A year ago, the most expensive repair was “replace hybrid inverter assembly” ($4,098)… a repair which has cost as much as $7,391 in previous years.
  • This year, the no.1 most expensive repair is “Replace Transmission Assembly and Reprogram Electronic Control Module” ($5,474). This repair, which applies to select vehicles, including 2001 Honda Civics and some 2001 Volvos, is indicative of the fact that cars are being made to outlast parts such as their transmission.

Manufacturers are making cars to last longer, which can result in fewer trips to the dealership/repair shop but also more expensive repairs down the line.

  • This year the number of check engine-related repairs dropped 1.3% overall with 161,350 repairs reported in 2012 versus 163,532 fixes made in 2011.

Previously the no.1 reason for check engine problems, the gas cap is decreasing as a nuisance for car owners each year

  • In 2012, a damaged or loose gas cap accounted for 7.21% of visits to the shop, down from 8.26% in 2011 and 9.28% in 2010. Improvements in gas cap (and capless) technology as well as more savvy consumers becoming more comfortable diagnosing and addressing smaller repairs on their own are contributing to its decline.
  • Other common repairs that can be diagnosed and handled by a light do-it-yourselfer include: oxygen sensors, spark plugs and air filters.

Paying attention to small problems and recommended maintenance schedules extend the life of your car and minimize check enginerelated failures and repairs.

  • The O2 sensor’s life can be extended by using factoryrecommended fuel types, and getting regular oil and spark plug changes.
  • April Car Care Awareness Month (or any time of year) is a good time to address problems. Ignore a spark plug and a $10 part can turn into a $300 ignition coil repair. Ignore that and you risk damaging your car’s catalytic converter at an average cost of $1,100, not to mention reduced MPG.

Wait, there’s more


If you’re interested in more info on the current state of vehicle health, download the PDF below. What you see on this page is only about 10% of all the info we have to offer – don’t miss the rest!


Stats


2012’s most common ‘check engine’ vehicle repairs for…

Rank Vehicle Repair Total average repair cost
(parts & labor)
% 2012 Repairs
1 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $293.88 8.31%
2 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $0.10 7.21%
3 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,101.44 6.26%
4 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) if needed $316.58 5.25%
5 Replace Spark Plug Wires and Spark Plugs $ 342.55 3.53%
6 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $ 410.17 3.46%
7 Remove Aftermarket Alarm System $ 97.90 2.46%
8 Inspect for Faulty Vacuum Hose(s) and Repair as Necessary $107.32 2.35%
9 Replace Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve and Clean All EGR ports $ 325.95 2.32%
10 Inspect Battery and Charging System and Repair/Replace as Necessary $ 100.63 2.22%
11 Replace Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) Valve and Hose $117.81 2.17%
12 Inspect for Faulty Wiring and Repair as Necessary $136.92 2.15%
13 Replace Wheel Speed Sensor(s) $218.91 2.14%
14 Replace ABS Control Module $840.11 1.83%
15 Replace Camshaft Position Sensor (CMP) $214.71 1.61%
16 Replace Intake Manifold Gasket(s) $381.33 1.61%
17 Replace Fuel Injector(s) $525.62 1.49%
18 Replace Thermostat $180.86 1.44%
19 Replace Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor (ECT) $169.31 1.43%
20 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Solenoid $166.70 1.40%
21 Replace ABS Modulator Assembly $1,206.93 0.86%
22 Replace Air/Fuel Ratio Sensor (AFR) $333.69 0.82%
23 Replace Crankshaft Position Sensor (CKP) $220.62 0.80%
24 Reprogram Engine Control Module (ECM) $106.48 0.71%
25 Replace Throttle Body Assembly $569.21 0.71%

(Top 25 most common vehicle repairs are based on 161,350 repairs made in calendar year 2012 on 1996-2012 model year vehicles. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Rank Vehicle Repair Total average repair cost
(parts & labor)
% 2012 Repairs
1 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $260.46 7.81%
2 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $0.13 6.56%
3 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,101.02 5.98%
4 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) if needed $324.78 4.89%
5 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $423.10 4.11%
6 Replace Spark Plug Wires and Spark Plugs $352.83 3.61%
7 Replace Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve and Clean All EGR ports $329.34 2.30%
8 Remove Aftermarket Alarm System $99.84 2.28%
9 Inspect Battery and Charging System and Repair/ Replace as Necessary $101.89 2.20%
10 Replace ABS Control Module $859.77 1.90%

(Top 10 most common vehicle repairs in the Western U.S. are based on 36,296 repairs in 2012 in AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA and WY. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Rank Vehicle Repair Total average repair cost
(parts & labor)
% 2012 Repairs
1 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $234.77 8.45%
2 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $0.02 8.09%
3 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,078.15 5.34%
4 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) if needed $315.493 4.44%
5 Replace Spark Plug Wires and Spark Plugs $339.34 3.82%
6 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $386.81 3.38%
7 Remove Aftermarket Alarm System $96.75 3.20%
8 Replace Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve and Clean All EGR ports $319.27 2.62%
9 Replace Wheel Speed Sensor(s) $243.00 2.22%
10 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Solenoid $159.85 2.02%

Top 10 most common vehicle repairs in the Midwestern U.S. are based on 28,167 repairs in 2012 in IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD and WI. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Rank Vehicle Repair Total average repair cost
(parts & labor)
% 2012 Repairs
1 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $255.87 8.96%
2 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $0.14 8.89%
3 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,117.40 6.88%
4 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) if needed $321.28 4.94%
5 Replace Spark Plug Wires and Spark Plugs $330.36 3.46%
6 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $402.76 2.81%
7 Replace Wheel Speed Sensor(s) $220.07 2.03%
8 Inspect Battery and Charging System and Repair/ Replace as Necessary $100.11 2.02%
9 Replace Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve and Clean All EGR ports $325.54 2.02%
10 Remove Aftermarket Alarm System $97.09 1.98%

(Top 10 most common vehicle repairs in the Northeastern U.S. are based on 31,685 repairs in 2011 in CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI and VT. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Rank Vehicle Repair Total average repair cost
(parts & labor)
% 2012 Repairs
1 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $253.48 7.89%
2 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,099.26 6.66%
3 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $0.08 6.48%
4 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $412.48 3.41%
5 Replace Spark Plug Wires and Spark Plugs $344.83 3.39%
6 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) if needed $325.93 5.21%
7 Inspect Battery and Charging System and Repair/ Replace as Necessary $100.68 2.55%
8 Remove Aftermarket Alarm System $97.82 2.51%
9 Replace Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve and Clean All EGR ports $328.31 2.26%
10 Replace ABS Control Module $831.63 1.81%

(Top 10 most common vehicle repairs in the Southern U.S. are based on 61,448 repairs in 2012 in AK, AL, DC, DE, FL,GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, TN, VA, SC, TX and WV. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

2012’s repair costs…

Year Labor Parts Total Avg Repair Cost
2012 $138.96 $228.88 $367.84
2011 $118.61 $215.32 $333.93
2010 $143.61 $212.43 $356.04
2009 $138.37 $221.13 $359.50
2008 $135.21 $220.98 $356.19
2007 $152.92 $256.99 $409.91
2006 $131.06 $291.30 $422.36
Region % Difference 2012 average repair cost 2013 average repair cost
U.S. +10.15% $367.84 $333.93
West +6.53% $384.46 $360.89
South +11.02% $372.44 $335.48
Northeast +11.56% $369.81 $331.50
Midwest +8.98% $336.75 $309.00
Rank Vehicle Repair Type of vehicle(s) Total repair cost
(Parts & Labor)
1 Replace Transmission Assembly and Reprogram Electronic Control Module (ECM) 2001-2004 Honda Civic, 2003-2011 Range Rover, 2007-2010 Mini Cooper and 2001-2006 Volvo vehicles >$5,400
2 Replace Transmission and Torque Converter Various makes and models >$4,400
3 Replace Hybrid Inverter Assembly w/Converter 2001-2003 Toyota Prius vehicles ~$3,900
4 Replace Transmission Assembly Various makes and models >$3,480
5 Replace Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) Battery 2003-2007 Honda Civic Hybrid, 2005-2006 Accord Hybrid and 2007-2011 Nissan Altima Hybrid vehicles >$3,150
6 Replace Hybrid Battery 2003-2007 Honda Civic, 2000-2006 Insight, 2006 Accord Hybrid, 2001-2009 Toyota Prius and 2006-2010 Camry vehicles >$3,100
7 Replace Hybrid Battery and Reprogram Engine Control Module (ECM) 2007-2009 Saturn Vue and 2007-2009 Honda Civic, Accord, CR-Z and Insight vehicles >$3,000
8 Replace Fuel Injection Pump Various makes and models >$2,600
9 Replace Supercharger 1999-2000 Mercedes C-Class and SLK-Class vehicles >$2,400
10 Replace Balance Shaft Gear 2006-2010 Mercedes R-Class and 2006-2008 M-Class vehicles >$2,300
11 Replace Cylinder Head Assembly Various makes and models >$2,200
12 Replace Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) , Clean Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Ports and Reprogram Engine Control Module (ECM) 2007-2009 Dodge Ram trucks >$2,100
13 Replace Cylinder Head Assembly and Replace Spark Plug(s) Various Ford vehicles ~$2,050
14 Replace Transmission Speed Sensor and Reprogram Transmission Control Module (TCM) 2000-2002 Hyundai Accent, 1996-2001 Mazda Millenia and 2007-2008 Nissan Sentra Vehicles >$2,000
15 Clean all Air Injection (AIR) Ports Various BMW and Mercedes vehicles >$2,000
Rank Vehicle Repair Total Cost
(Parts & Labor)
1 Inspect Engine Oil for Correct Level and Viscosity
2 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $0.10
3 Replace Fuel Tank Gas Cap $22.02
4 Disable Air Injection (AIR) System and Reprogram Powertrain Control Module (PCM) $89.78
5 Inspect for Faulty Hoses at Wastegate By-Pass Valve and Repair as Necessary $89.78
6 Inspect Tire Size and Replace as Necessary $89.78
7 Replace Ambient Light Sensor $89.78
8 Replace Engine Block Heater Cord $89.78
9 Replace Engine Control Module (ECM) Wiring Harness $89.78
10 Replace Tire Pressure Monitor Sensor (TPMS) Module $89.78
11 Reprogram Instrument Cluster Module $89.78
12 Inspect for Restricted Exhaust $92.63
13 Inspect for Faulty Vacuum Hose(s) between Swirl Control Valve and Swirl Control Valve Actuator $92.81
14 Replace A/C Compressor Control Relay $93.58
15 Inspect Transmission Fluid and Fill or Replace as Necessary $94.86
Qbx2013 CarMD Vehicle Health Index