Drivers in Wyoming paid the most in the nation for car repairs at an average cost of $389.18, according to CarMD.com Corp., which analyzed more than 160,000 repairs made on vehicles with “check engine” light problems in 2011. In Wyoming, motorists paid 17 percent more than the U.S. average for overall repairs, including 19 percent more for labor and 15 percent more for parts.
CarMD attributes Wyoming’s ranking to harsh weather and high altitude that may wreak havoc on vehicles. Another factor is the state’s more remote locations with widespread and reduced access to parts and people to service vehicles, which results in motorists’ tendency to put off smaller repairs. CarMD says this is illustrated by the fact that catalytic converter repairs were the second most common reason the “check engine” light came on in Wyoming. “It shouldn’t even be in the Top 10, let alone ranked second,” the Irvine, CA-based company stated in a June 21 report. “This is a very expensive repair, and often the result of putting off smaller repairs.”
Rounding out the Top 5 most expensive states for car repair are, in order, Utah (an average total of $378.54), California ($367.86), Montana ($364.29) and Arizona ($362.65). All of the Top 5 states are in the West. CarMD attributes this, in part, to higher amounts of airborne dust. The company points out that, by putting off replacing air filters, vehicle owners in western states put their vehicles’ mass air flow sensors at risk. On average, this is a $400 repair, according to the CarMD report.
Drivers in Indiana paid the least at $283.95 per transaction. That was followed by Maine ($289.56), Wisconsin ($289.90), Iowa ($289.91) and New Hampshire ($292.66). Texas paid closest to the national average for car repair costs at $333.75 — just pennies less than the U.S. average.
Drivers in Vermont paid the least for labor at $98.90, with those in Colorado paying the most at $143.17 for labor. Meanwhile, drivers in Maine paid the least for parts at an average of $175.91, with those in Wyoming paying the most at $247.70.
To see the complete state-by-state rankings, click here.
According to CarMD, the average cost of U.S. “check engine”-related auto repairs in 2011 came in at $333.93, or $215.32 in parts and $118.61 in labor. This figure was down 6 percent from 2010 due, in large part, to a double-digit drop in labor costs. The company contends that industry contraction had a lot to do with the drop in labor rates, which was partially offset by increased parts costs and more severe repairs increasing in frequency and reaching CarMD’s 10 most common problems list.
Most states experienced a drop in repair costs, with the exceptions being Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah, as well as the District of Columbia.
“We are encouraged to see overall repair costs trending down this year but recognize that drivers are still putting off small repairs such as spark plugs and oxygen sensors that can quickly turn into more serious problems,” said Art Jacobsen, vice president of CarMD.
CarMD’s state-by-state ranking of repair costs was derived from an analysis of 163,582 repairs made from Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2011 by CarMD’s network of ASE-certified technicians. The repairs are related to a vehicle’s “check engine” light.
The CarMD database and average repair costs findings do not include problems that are outside the scope of a vehicle’s on-board diagnostic computer monitoring, such as tires, brakes, belts and hoses.