When it comes to the cost of getting a check engine light fixed, it doesn't always just depend on the issue itself, but where you live. So which states can you expect to pay the highest and lowest in repairs? We can look to CarMD's latest annual state repair costs rankings for answers.
The study looks at the average Labor and Repair cost per state incurred during the 2021 calendar year. Connecticut takes the top spot from California this year as the state with the highest average check engine light repair cost ($418.37). In fact, California drops from first to third place behind Colorado.
Texas moved from 14th to 15th on the list for 2021, with an average repair cost of $397.53. Oregon moved from 16th to 19th with an average repair cost of $393.94.
Five states/districts with the highest car repair costs in 2021:
- Connecticut, $418.37
- Colorado, $417.14
- California, $415.66
- District of Columbia, $411.00
- Georgia, $407.71
“Several factors contribute to a state’s average repair costs, including vehicle year, make and model, the repair difficulty and associated parts cost,” said David Rich, technical director, CarMD. “It makes sense that as people hold onto their vehicles longer than ever before, cars and trucks start to outlast their parts and need more costly repairs. Staying current on maintenance can help vehicle owners reduce surprise car repair bills, while fixing check engine light problems quickly can improve fuel economy and reduce the likelihood of additional repairs down the road.”
The most frequently diagnosed repair in all five of the states with the highest average repair costs was “replace catalytic converter.” CarMD says these costly parts, due to their precious metals, don't usually fail unless drivers ignore a faulty oxygen sensor or ignition coil, or a vehicle has high mileage.
Five states/districts with the lowest car repair costs in 2021:
- 47. Wisconsin, $361.11
- 48. Iowa, $359.96
- 49. Michigan, $356.29
- 50. Ohio, $353.76
- 51. Maine, $349.25
For the sixth consecutive year, Vermont had the lowest average labor cost ($127.15) for check engine-light related repairs. CarMD says it's not surprising since the most common reason for the check engine light on Vermont vehicles is an affordable fix to tighten or replace a loose or missing gas cap, which reflects on the average repair cost. For the fourth year in a row, drivers in Mississippi paid the most on average for labor ($151.67), where the most common repair was to replace ignition coils and spark plugs. CarMD says the type of repair, how long the repair will take, what the shop charges per hour, and whether you opt to do it yourself or have it repaired by a professional automotive technician, all factor into average labor costs for a car repair.
Like the new car market, supply issues have also impacted car repair prices. CarMD says with supply chain issues impacting new vehicle availability and average vehicle age reaching an all-time high, it's costing more for parts. Higher-ticket repairs are needed as cars outlast their parts. Drivers in Michigan, paid the least on average for car parts ($211.26), but this is up nearly 5% from a year ago. This past year, drivers in Connecticut paid the most on average for parts ($281.53). CarMD says the type of vehicle, type of repair and whether original equipment (OE) parts are used factor into average parts cost.
CarMD’s state ranking of repair costs was derived from analysis of more than 17 million repairs identified for model year 1996 to 2022 vehicles whose drivers sought guidance for a check engine light issue from Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021. The repairs are related to a vehicle’s on-board diagnostic (OBD2) system. CarMD does not report on problems outside the scope of a vehicle’s OBD2 computer monitoring such as tires, and mechanical parts like belts and hoses.
To view the 2022 CarMD state ranking of car repair costs, visit CarMD.Editor's Note: This article was updated with new information September 8, 2022.
Source: Press Release.