Wednesday, 06 July 2011 15:36

CarMD Reveals Car Repair Costs by State

Drivers in Alaska pay the most for car repairs at an average cost of $353.74, which is 16% more than the U.S. average ($305.56), including a whopping 30% more for labor. Mississippi drivers pay the least at $256.47 per transaction, according to CarMD.com Corporation, which analyzed roughly a quarter-million repairs made on vehicles with "check engine" light problems from 1996 to 2010. Analysis of the data also found that the District of Columbia, one of the wealthiest areas in the country, and Mississippi, the poorest state (according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau), both rank the lowest at 50th and 51st respectively. According to the CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™, the average cost of U.S. automotive repairs is $305.56, including $202.28 in parts and $103.27 in labor costs.

"Through comprehensive data collected via CarMD's nationwide network of Automotive Service Excellence-certified technicians, we are able to provide national and state-by-state transparency into vehicle repair costs," said Art Jacobsen, VP, CarMD.com Corp. "We are releasing this data to empower consumers and mechanics with a better understanding of common repairs and costs, and to call attention to the fact that, regardless of region, drivers who follow a regularly scheduled maintenance program and address small problems early tend to have fewer catastrophic vehicle failures, reducing overall repair costs."


Several interesting highlights emerge when comparing costs and ranking repairs for each state. While Alaska's no. 1 ranking can be attributed to cold weather, which wreaks havoc on the longevity of a car's parts, it is surprising to see Alaska's average labor costs at 30% higher and Idaho's automotive labor costs 34% higher than the U.S. average. Western states round out the top five most expensive spots, with only two non-western states listed in the top 10, including New Jersey at no. 7 and Arkansas at no. 9. Drivers in the Southwest pay about 10% more than drivers in the Northeast and 16% more than drivers in the Midwest for repairs.Southwest labor costs are higher as are the type of repairs due to dry air, build up and dust, such as clogged mass airflow sensor, which shows up more frequently and increases costs.

The following is the ranking of the top 5 states with the highest car repair costs, according to CarMD:

State     Average Cost (Parts & Labor)                   Average Parts Cost                                 Average Labor Cost
Alaska     $353.74(16% higher than U.S. avg.)           $219.31 (8% higher than U.S. avg.)       $134.42 (30% higher than U.S. avg.)
Oregon   $350.81(15% higher than U.S. avg.)           $222.22 (10% higher than U.S. avg.)     $128.59 (25% higher than U.S. avg.)
Colorado  $348.17 (14% higher than U.S. avg.)          $219.85 (9% higher than U.S. avg.)       $128.32 (24% higher than U.S. avg.)
California  $344.57 (13% higher than U.S. avg.)           $215.01 (7% higher than U.S. avg.)      $129.55 (25% higher than U.S. avg.)
Idaho     $340.99 (12% higher than U.S. avg.)           $203.05 (on par with U.S. avg.)             $137.95 (34% higher than U.S. avg.)

The following is the ranking of the states/districts with the lowest car repair costs, according to CarMD:

State     Average Cost (Parts & Labor)                        Average Parts Cost                             Average Labor Cost
Mississippi   $256.47 (16% lower than U.S. avg.)            $179.61 (11% less than U.S. avg.)     $109.67 (6% higher than U.S. avg.)
D.C.         $265.29 (13% lower than U.S. avg.)             $178.93 (12% less than U.S. avg.)     $104.91 (1% higher than U.S. avg.)
Vermont   $273.91 (10% lower than U.S. avg.)             $201.09 (1% less than U.S. avg.)       $103.27 (4% less than U.S. avg.)
Indiana     $276.70 (9% lower than U.S. avg.)               $182.28 (10% less than U.S. avg.)     $101.12 (10% less than U.S. avg.)
Montana   $280.93 (8% lower than U.S. avg.)               $159.21 (21% less than U.S. avg.)     $121.72 (18% higher than U.S. avg.)

Other key findings:

- Drivers in Florida pay closest to the national average for car repair costs at $305.05, just pennies less than the U.S. national average of $305.56.
- "Replace catalytic converter" ranked no. 2 among Alaska's most common vehicle "check engine" light repairs, accounting for nearly 8% of repairs, which is above the national average of 6.4%. This is likely due to extreme cold conditions and engine misfire. This causes damage to the catalytic converters and cause them to fail prematurely, especially in cold weather.
- Conversely, "replace catalytic converter" accounted for 4%, or less, of repairs in D.C. and Montana. A catalytic converter can costs upwards of $2,000 to replace, and typically does not fail unless a driver ignores a small problem such as a spark plug or oxygen sensor failure, or puts undue stress on it.
- The states with lower repair costs had a higher percentage of gas cap-related problems. A loose gas cap, which is one of the most common reasons for a check engine light problem, accounted for 12% of repairs in Vermont, 11% in Indiana, 10% in D.C., and 8% of repairs in Montana and Mississippi. Loose, damaged or missing gas caps are an inexpensive fix but cause 147 million gallons of gas to evaporate annually.
- More than 10% of the repairs in D.C. were made at zero cost in terms of parts and labor charges, likely because of a higher number of vehicles that are new or under manufacturer's warranty.
- Drivers in Nevada pay the most ($269.23) for oxygen sensor replacement, which is the no. 1 most common repair in the country. Oxygen sensors monitor the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust and tell a car's computer when there is either too much, or not enough fuel. The average cost to replace an O2 sensor is $233.42, including parts and labor, but can lead to as much as a 40% reduction in gas mileage, or nearly $700/year in wasted fuel. They can fail prematurely if subjected to sand, dust and other debris.

The average cost of car repairs was derived from analysis of roughly 250,000 repairs input from 1996 to 2010 by CarMD's network of Automotive Service Excellence-certified technicians. The repairs are all related to a vehicle's "check engine" light system, which is designed to alert drivers to large and small problems that affect emissions output and drivability. This technology is standard on all vehicles manufactured since 1996, and covers an estimated 80% of systems on cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans – foreign and domestic. The CarMD database and average cost of repair findings does not include fixes for problems that are not associated with a vehicle's on-board diagnostic computer such as tires, brakes and mechanical parts such as belts and hoses.

For information about the company, its products and other consumer tips, visit www.CarMD.com.

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