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Where Are Car Repairs Most Expensive?

Car repair

Car repair

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A new study from CarMD, a consumer website, shows that the overall cost of car repairs declined six percent nationally in 2011, from an average of $356 in 2010 to an average $334 last year. But for drivers seeking repairs in five Western states, the costs were much higher at an average of $360.89.

The second annual study looked at 163,582 auto repairs in 2011 and ranked them state by state. Wyoming leads the nation for most expensive car repairs, recording an average $389.18 repair bill, with $247.70 in parts and $141.48 in labor costs.

Why is Wyoming at the top of the list for most expensive car repairs? According to CarMD, Wyoming repair costs were 17 percent higher than the U.S. average. The most common auto repair in Wyoming, and nationwide, was “Replace Oxygen (O2) Sensor,” accounting for 10.10 percent of the state’s auto repairs last year.  Failure to replace the O2 sensor not only reduces fuel efficiency, but can also lead to more serious problems – such as a faulty catalytic converter. Engine seizure and a roadside breakdown may be the result of such neglected repair. “Replace Catalytic Converter” accounted for 5.72 percent of Wyoming’s 2011 repairs. And this is a costly repair, averaging $1,030.63, since it requires three expensive precious metals: platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Check Engine Light

Check Engine Light

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Top five-states for average total auto repair costs for “Check Engine Light”

  • Wyoming - $389.18
  • Utah - $378.54
  • California - $367.86
  • Montana - $364.29
  • Arizona - $362.65

At the bottom of the state-by-state ranking, in terms of lowest overall average auto repair costs for “Check Engine Light” are the following five states, three of which are in the Midwest:

  • Indiana - $283.95
  • Maine - $289.56
  • Wisconsin - $289.90
  • Iowa - $289.91
  • New Hampshire - $292.66

Interested to learn where your state ranks? Click here to see the full 2012 State Index.

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Comments (6)
  1. “Replace Oxygen (O2) Sensor,” accounting for 10.10 percent of the state’s auto repairs last year".

    Unless a "check engine" light is properly diagnosed it could be a host of things causing this light to come on. Even such a small thing like not tighting the gas cap tight enough can cause this error.
    I alwasys say get a second opinion before any work is done on your vehicle. Same as you would with a doctor before he puts you under the knife :-)

  2. Matt-Totally agree. Now imagine you're driving out in Wyoming with the family, en route to visiting Yellowstone National Park or whatever, and you're miles away from a station...that "check engine" light could be pretty scary.

    But you're absolutely right that it could mean any number of things, including not tightening the gas cap at the last fill-up.

  3. Today's gas engines are so complex and Matt pointed out, there are other things that can trigger errors.
    If the cars were electric, won't have to replace O2 sensors and won't have to service the car as much when compared to a gas powered car.

  4. Al - another excellent point. Electric cars do away with a lot of maintenance required for gasoline-powered vehicles. Of course, there's the time for payback to consider (the premium consumers pay for the electic vehicle up-front), and that's not an inconsiderable expense.

  5. Moving from kentucky to the Philadelphia area our car maintence spiked. costs for the WORST mechanic are on avg. bouble the costs for the BEST mechanic in kentucky. States that are strict on safety inspections keep the techs very busy fixing emissions stuff. So it becomes a case of supply & demand on the labor. The states in the south that dont push safety inspections seem to have much lower shop rates. Living in the northeast with multiple cars has caused me to buy just about every tool under the sun short of an engine hoist. Just to keep some money in my pocket.

  6. Willis- Bet you've become quite handy at those repairs, too... Thanks for the observations.

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