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‘Check Engine Light’ Related Repair Costs Rose 10% In 2012, According To CarMD

Drivers in New Jersey pay the most in the United States to have a “check engine light” situation diagnosed and repaired, according to CarMD.com Corp. In New Jersey, the average cost of these repairs came in at $392.99. This comes from an analysis of more than 160,000 repairs made on vehicles with check engine light (CEL) problems in 2012.

Year-over-year, vehicle owners in New Jersey saw a 20.7-percent increase in labor rates and an 8.2-percent increase in parts costs. New Jersey drivers also paid more than the U.S. average for many repairs, including catalytic converter replacement at $1,112.48 per transaction. Hurricane Sandy-related flood damage was a factor here.

Rounding out the five most expensive U.S. states/districts for auto repair were: No. 2, the District of Columbia; No. 3, California; No. 4, North Carolina; and No. 5, Maryland. Click here to view a chart from CarMD showing where each state ranked.

The average cost for CEL-related repairs in the United States in 2012 came in at $367.84. That’s up 10 percent from 2011. The Northeast experienced the largest percent increase (11.56 percent). The West, historically known for having some of the highest car repair costs, saw only a 6.53-percent increase in costs. California was the only western state among the top five this year.

For comparison sake, all five states with the highest repair costs in 2011 were from the West.

The states with the lowest car repair costs were: No. 47, Iowa; No. 48, Delaware; No. 49, South Dakota; No. 50, West Virginia; and No. 51, Vermont (with an average total of $314.77).

A majority of states and districts experienced an increase in repair costs in 2012, with the exceptions being Delaware, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The District of Columbia had the largest increase in repair costs — up 20 percent to $391.62. This was partially attributed to the type of repairs being made, as time-consuming repairs that cost more than $1,000 accounted for nearly 10 percent of D.C. repairs in 2012, as compared with 7 percent in 2011.

Wyoming saw the biggest drop with a nearly 17-percent dip in average repair costs to $324.31.

Drivers in Vermont paid the least in labor at $115.90. While still low, this was up from Vermont’s labor rate of $90.85 in 2011. For the second consecutive year, Colorado was the state with the highest labor charge at $150.75 on average.

Drivers in Vermont also paid the least for parts at an average of $153.82, with those in New Jersey paying the most at $256.28.

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