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CarMD Releases Annual Check Engine Light Ranking

CarMD publishes this report annually to bring awareness about the importance of check engine light health.

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CarMD.com Corporation today released its annual state ranking of check engine light-related car repair costs, which finds vehicle owners in Connecticut paid the most ($418) and Maine the least ($349) for repairs during calendar year 2021.

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This infographic map of the U.S. highlights the states with the highest and lowest check engine-related car repair costs during calendar year 2021, according to CarMD. A provider of automotive diagnostic data, CarMD publishes this report annually to bring awareness about the importance of check engine light health to reduce cost of ownership, reduce emissions output for cleaner air, and improve fuel economy.

States with the highest and lowest check engine-related car repair costs during 2021

Rounding out the five most affordable states for car repair after Maine were Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin – all located in the Midwest. After Connecticut, the states/districts needing the most expensive car repairs were Colorado, California, District of Columbia and Georgia. The most frequently diagnosed repair in all five of the states with the highest average repair costs was “replace catalytic converter.” Costly parts that contain precious metals, catalytic converters do not typically fail unless maintenance and other repairs such as a faulty oxygen sensor or ignition coil are ignored, or a vehicle has high mileage.road.”

“Several factors contribute to a state’s average car 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.”

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CarMD Garage is a free online resource that drivers can use to check for upcoming maintenance, technical service bulletins and common check engine problems by year, make, model and mileage.

CarMD.com Corporation publishes this annual state-by-state ranking as part of its CarMD Vehicle Health Index to bring awareness about the importance of check engine light health. To view the 2022 CarMD state ranking of car repair costs for data collected in calendar year 2021, visit https://www.carmd.com/vehicle-health-index-introduction/2022-carmd-state-index/.

CarMD’s ranking of the five states/districts with the highest car repair costs in 2021:

1. Connecticut, $418.37
2. Colorado, $417.14
3. California, $415.66
4. District of Columbia, $411.00
5. Georgia, $407.71

CarMD’s ranking of the five states 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

Labor Costs: For the sixth consecutive year, Vermont had the lowest average labor cost ($127.15) for check engine-light related repairs. This is 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. 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.  

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Parts Costs: With supply chain issues impacting new vehicle availability and average vehicle age reaching an all-time high, parts costs have increased with higher-ticket repairs needed as cars outlast their parts. Not surprisingly, drivers in Michigan, home to “Motor City,” 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). 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. All 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, are represented in this Index. The repairs are related to a vehicle’s on-board diagnostic (OBD2) system, which is standard on all cars, light trucks, minivans, SUVs and hybrids manufactured since 1996. It monitors emissions-related systems within a vehicle, triggering the check engine light when a problem occurs. CarMD does not report on problems that are outside the scope of a vehicle’s OBD2 computer monitoring such as tires, and mechanical parts like belts and hoses

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