There's good news and bad news in the 2015 CarMD Vehicle Health Index.
The good news is, taking your car to the mechanic last year didn't cost you any more than it did the year before.
The bad news? It didn't cost you any less, either -- unless you owned a hybrid.
CarMD maintains a nationwide network of technicians who have used their real-world experiences to build a massive database of car problems and fixes. CarMD's 2015 Vehicle Health Index used that database to analyze 90,051 auto repairs that took place in 2014.
There's a lot of data to be found in the Index. Here are some of the more telling high points:
- Repair costs rose in 2012 and 2013 but remained essentially flat in 2014, climbing just 0.6 percent. While labor costs ticked up 2.7 percent, overall prices were held in check by a 2.8 percent drop in the cost of parts.
- The news was better for hybrid owners, who saw most repair costs decline for the fifth year in a row. One of the more costly repairs for hybrid vehicles -- replacing the hybrid inverter assembly -- fell a whopping 51 percent, from $2,800 in 2013 to $1,357 last year. (To put that in context, check the graphic above.)
- That said, it wasn't all good news for hybrids. The cost of replacing a hybrid battery rose to $3,479 last year -- up 11 percent from 2013's $3,140.
- Once again, "Replace Oxygen Sensor" was the most common check-engine light (though not the most expensive to repair). Here's a list of the ten most frequently seen lights/problems and what it cost to fix them last year:
1. Replace oxygen sensor – $259
2. Replace catalytic converter – $1,150
3. Tighten or replace fuel cap – free in most cases
4. Replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) – $414
5. Replace ignition coil(s) – $247
6. Replace mass air flow sensor – $409
7. Replace spark plug wire(s) and spark plug(s) – $362
8. Replace thermostat – $213
9. Replace Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve – $350
10. Replace fuel injector(s) – $554
- The most expensive region of the country for repairs was the West, where vehicle owners paid an average of $423 for check engine light fixes. At the other end of the spectrum, Midwesterners paid $375.
As a jumble of facts, figures, charts, and the occasional infographic, the 2015 CarMD Vehicle Health Index can be confusing at times. (The situation isn't helped by what look to be typos, or at best, examples of clunky writing.) Still, it's worth a look. You can download your copy here.