When the check engine light illuminates on the dashboard, drivers in New Jersey now pay the most in the nation to have it diagnosed and repaired, at an average cost of $392.99, according to CarMD.com Corporation’s analysis of more than 160,000 repairs made on vehicles with check engine light problems in 2012. Indicating a coastal shift from West to East, and rounding out the top five most expensive U.S. states/districts for auto repair were no. 2 District of Columbia, no. 3 California, no. 4 North Carolina and no. 5 Maryland. Increased frequency of expensive repairs, such as catalytic converter replacement, in those states with higher average repair costs indicates drivers in some areas continue to put off small repairs that spiral into more expensive problems and drive up check engine-related repair costs.
The average cost for check engine light-related repairs in the U.S. in 2012 was $367.84, up 10% from 2011. The Northeast experienced the largest percent increase (11.56%). But the West, historically known for having some of the highest car repair costs, saw only a 6.53% increase in costs. California is the only western state among the top five this year. From 2011 to 2012, vehicle owners in New Jersey saw a 20.7% increase in labor rates and an 8.2% increase in parts costs, making it the state with the highest average parts cost. New Jersey drivers also paid more than the U.S. average for many repairs, including catalytic converter replacement at $1,112.48 per transaction. CarMD attributes this hike to several factors such as more than double the number of trips to the repair shop spurred by Hurricane Sandy-related flood damage that either resulted in new repairs or uncovered unrepaired problems that had been put off for some time.
On a more positive note, as hybrid repair costs across the country trend down, New Jersey owners paid the least to replace a hybrid battery at $2,005.05 on average, as compared with Arizona’s high of $4,409.94. Some factors that can contribute to repair costs include availability of diagnostic capabilities and technicians trained to service these vehicles, as well as vehicle population mix. Catalytic converter repairs were the second most common reason the check engine light came on in three of the five states with the highest repair costs. This is a very pricey part that is often the result of extensive vehicle age, or putting off smaller repairs such as spark plugs or oxygen sensors.
CarMD ranking of the five states with the highest check engine light-related car repair costs in 2012
CarMD ranking of states with the lowest check engine-light related car repair costs in 2012
Repair Cost Ranking of ALL U.S. States + District of Columbia in 2012