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 2020 calendar year. A year in which fewer vehicles were on the road as Americans drove less due to the pandemic. CarMD analyzed data from more than 13.9 million cars, trucks, vans and SUVs whose drivers sought guidance for a check engine light problem in 2020. That number was down nearly 13% from the 15.9 million check engine light issues CarMD analyzed in 2019.
The analysis found, unsurprisingly, that check engine light-related repairs once again cost the most to fix in California ($411). Vehicle owners in Ohio paid the least ($342). Texas, meanwhile, saw an increase in costs last year over 2019. It moved up the list from number 18 to number 14 with an average Labor and Repair cost of $385.33.
“Several factors contribute to a state’s average repair costs, including vehicle age and type, how difficult the repair is, required parts, how much time is needed to make the repair and what the repair shop charges per hour,” said David Rich, technical director, CarMD. “It makes sense that as people commuted less and took fewer road trips, there was less wear and tear on vehicles and fewer check engine light occurrences. As people get back on the road, now is a great time to catch up on vehicle inspections and car maintenance, which can reduce the likelihood of unexpected and costly car repairs.” 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’s ranking of the five states/districts with the highest car repair costs in 2020:
1. California, $410.73
2. Connecticut, $406.49
3. Colorado, $403.03
4. District of Columbia, $400.68
5. Utah, $395.86
CarMD’s ranking of the five states/districts with the lowest car repair costs in 2020:
47. Indiana, $352.20
48. Michigan, $347.82
49. Wisconsin, $344.45
50. Maine, $342.12
51. Ohio, $341.83
CarMD says Hawaii and Nevada, state economies hardest hit by Covid-19, saw the most dramatic drop in its state rankings with Hawaii moving down 39 spots and Nevada dropping 25 spots.
To view the complete CarMD State Repair Costs Rankings list, visit CarMD here.
Key findings from the CarMD press release:
Labor Costs: For the fifth consecutive year, Vermont had the lowest average labor cost ($125.95). This is not surprising since the most common cause of a check engine light on Vermont cars and trucks remains a loose or missing gas cap, accounting for 7.5% of repairs in Vermont. For the third year in a row, drivers in Mississippi paid the most on average for labor ($152.63), where the most common repair was to replace ignition coils and spark plugs. The type of repair, how long the repair will take, 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.
Parts Costs: In 2020, drivers in Connecticut paid the most on average for parts ($268.70), while drivers in Michigan, home to “Motor City,” paid the least for parts ($202.16). The most frequently recommended repair in Connecticut was to replace the catalytic converter. Catalytic converters are costly parts that contain precious metals; they do not typically fail unless maintenance and other repairs like as a faulty oxygen sensor or ignition coil are ignored, or a vehicle has high mileage. The most common repair in Michigan last year was to replace an oxygen sensor. The type of vehicle, type of repair and whether original equipment (OE) parts are used factor into average parts cost.
COVID Economy Impact: Several reports, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Reports, listed Hawaii and Nevada among the states hardest hit by Coronavirus shutdowns. CarMD ascertains that reduced mileage and commutes, fewer rideshare trips, competition among auto repair shops, and more time at home for DIY repairs – particularly in states hardest hit by shutdowns – impacted repair costs and rankings. Hawaii moved from no. 6 to no. 45, dropping from an average repair cost of $402.91 in 2019 to $356.54 in 2020. Nevada dropped from no. 15 to no. 40 with its average car repair cost dipping from $395.89 in 2019 to $364.59 last year.
Methodology: CarMD.com Corporation publishes this annual state-by-state ranking as part of its to bring awareness about the importance of check engine light health in order to reduce cost of ownership. CarMD’s state ranking of repair costs was derived from analysis of 13,944,931 repairs identified for model year 1996 to 2021 vehicles from Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020 reported to and analyzed by CarMD’s nationwide team of ASE-certified technicians. All 51 U.S. states/districts, including 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 vehicles 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.
To see the most common reasons for check engine light repairs, click here to read about CarMD's top 5 Check Engine Light Causes.
Source: CarMD Press Release