CarMD Releases State Ranking Of Car Repair Costs

CarMD Releases State Ranking Of Car Repair Costs

This is CarMD's 10th annual state ranking of check engine light-related car repair costs.

CarMD.com Corporation recently released its 10th annual state ranking of check engine light-related car repair costs, which finds in 2019 Vermont had the lowest average repair cost ($342.14) while California drivers incurred the highest average repair cost ($414.24). Rounding out the five most affordable states for car repair over the past year were Ohio, Wisconsin,  Michigan and Iowa. After California, District of Columbia, Georgia, New Jersey and Virginia were the states/districts with the highest repair costs. CarMD analyzed data from more than 15.9 million cars, trucks, vans and SUVs needing repairs in 2019 to compile this ranking. This is the second time California has ranked most expensive and the second time Vermont has ranked the least expensive state for car repairs over the past decade.    

This infographic map of the U.S. highlights the states with the highest and lowest check engine-related car repairs costs during calendar year 2019, according to CarMD. A leading provider of automotive diagnostic data, CarMD publishes this data annually to bring awareness about the importance of check engine light health to reduce cost of ownership and reduce emissions output for cleaner air.

“Several factors contribute to a state’s average repair costs, including vehicle age and type, how difficult the repair is, required parts, how much time is needed to make the repair and what the repair shop charges per hour,” said David Rich, technical director, CarMD. “With cost saving on everyone’s minds these days, drivers can reduce the likelihood of unexpected and costly car repairs by staying current on maintenance, addressing warning lights as soon as possible and having repairs made by a trusted independent repair shop or dealership.” 

CarMD Garage is a free online resource that drivers can use to check for upcoming maintenance, technical service bulletins and common check engine problems by year, make, model and mileage.     

A leading provider of automotive diagnostic data and business solutions, CarMD.com Corporation publishes this annual state-by-state ranking as part of its CarMD Vehicle Health Index to bring awareness about the importance of check engine light health in order to reduce cost of ownership. 

CarMD’s ranking of the five states/districts with the highest car repair costs in 2019:

1. California, $414.24 
2. District of Columbia, $410.16 
3. Georgia, $409.92 
4. New Jersey, $403.43 
5. Virginia, $403.19

CarMD’s ranking of the five states/districts with the lowest car repair costs in 2019: 

47. Iowa, $356.57 
48. Michigan, $350.77
49. Wisconsin, $349.08 
50. Ohio, $348.79 
51. Vermont, $342.14

Key findings:

Labor Costs: For the fourth consecutive year, Vermont had the lowest average labor cost ($123.68). This is not surprising since the most common cause of a check engine light on Vermont cars and trucks remains a loose or missing gas cap, accounting for 8% of repairs. For the second year in a row, drivers in Mississippi paid the most on average for labor ($160.45), where the most common repair was to replace ignition coils and spark plugs. The type of repair, how long the repair will take and the shop’s hourly rate can all factor into the average labor cost. In Vermont, the most commonly repaired vehicle was a 2004 Honda Civic. In Mississippi it was a 2004 F150.

Parts Costs: In 2019, drivers in California paid the most on average for parts ($266.86), while drivers in Michigan, home to “Motor City,” paid the least for parts ($202.30). The most frequently recommended repair in California was to replace the catalytic converter; catalytic converters are costly repairs that don’t typically fail unless maintenance and other repairs like as a faulty oxygen sensor or ignition coil are ignored, or a vehicle has high mileage. The most common repair in Michigan last year was to replace an oxygen sensor. The type of vehicle, type of repair and whether original equipment (OE) parts are used factor into average parts cost. In California, the vehicle most frequently needing check engine-related repairs in 2019 was a 2005 Nissan Altima. In Michigan, it was a 2008 Chevrolet Impala.

Decade in Review: Over the past 10 years since CarMD has published this state ranking of check engine light-related car repair costs, Michigan has ranked best three times (2016, 2017 and 2018) while District of Columbia has had the highest average repair cost four times (2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019). The date of the state ranking report is for data collected the previous calendar year.

Since 2011, CarMD has published its tri-annual Vehicle Health Index reporting on common check engine light issues each April during Car Care Awareness Month, state rankings each summer, and make and model reliability rankings each fall. Over the past decade, CarMD has collected data on more than 500 million vehicles, which is used to support its diagnostic products, data licensing services and Vehicle Health Index reports. This year’s state ranking of repair costs was derived from analysis of 15,869,285 needed repairs identified for model year 1996 to 2019 vehicles from Jan. 1, 2019through Dec. 31, 2019 reported to and analyzed by CarMD’s nationwide team of ASE-certified technicians. All 51 U.S. states/districts, including the District of Columbia, are represented in this Index. The repairs are related to a vehicle’s on-board diagnostic (OBD2) system, which is standard on all vehicles manufactured since 1996. It monitors emissions-related systems within a vehicle, triggering the check engine light when a problem occurs. CarMD does not report on problems that are outside the scope of a vehicle’s OBD2 computer monitoring such as tires, and mechanical parts like belts and hoses.

To view the 2020 CarMD state ranking of car repair costs for data collected in calendar year 2019, visit https://www.carmd.com/wp/vehicle-health-index-introduction/2020-carmd-state-index/. To access archived Vehicle Health Index reports for 2010 to 2020 data, visit https://www.carmd.com/wp/vehicle-health-index-introduction/list-of-indexes/. Additional customized reports, which can be useful to automotive OEMs and suppliers, are available upon request. For more information on available data, visit https://www.carmd.com/big-data/. For an overview of vehicle APIs, visit https://www.carmd.com/api/

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