How Pricey Are Engine Repairs in Your State?

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CARS.COM — You may have heard of emo band Dashboard Confessional, but the real dashboard confessional is your check-engine light — and depending on where you live, that ominous glow may stir up more emotions than a sad song. For example, in Connecticut, car owners may feel fear and loathing at the thought of an average repair bill of $411 — the highest in the nation, according to a new study by California-based CarMD.

Related: Video: How to Find a Mechanic You Can Trust

The automotive diagnostic information provider examined the costs of parts and labor for car repairs that trigger vehicles' check-engine light, analyzing more than 11.5 million fixes last year on model-year 1996 through 2016 cars. The annual state-by-state ranking also concluded that the thriftiest state for car repairs was Michigan, with an average repair bill of roughly $343, and that the most common culprit of a trip to the mechanic was a faulty oxygen sensor — as demonstrated by 35 states — which can cost from $233 to $296 to fix.

"Properly operating oxygen sensors are important to a car's performance and to the environment," CarMD said in a statement. "If left unrepaired, most check-engine-light-related problems, including a faulty O2 sensor, can negatively impact a car's fuel economy and cause damage to other car parts like the more costly catalytic converter, which averages $1,190 to replace."

The 10 most expensive states (including the District of Columbia) for check-engine-light repairs, followed by the average cost of parts and labor, are:

10. Tennessee, $385.90

9. Colorado, $387.24

8. Delaware, $387.74

7. Utah, $387.95

6. Montana, $388.31

5. Maryland, $392.99

4. Georgia, $396.37

3. Rhode Island, $405.83

2. District of Columbia, $410.98

1. Connecticut, $411.45

On the other end of the spending spectrum, here are the 10 cheapest states for engine repairs:

10. Wyoming, $361.43

9. Indiana, $360.11

8. South Dakota, $359.81

7. Vermont, $359.71

6. North Dakota, $354.50

5. Ohio, $349.18

4. Hawaii, $346.94

3. Wisconsin, $346.81

2. Maine, $343.60

1. Michigan, $343.40

CarMD Technical Director David Rich cautioned car owners against ignoring their check-engine light because the vehicle is driving OK or they don't like the first quote they get from a repair shop.

"As we track check-engine-light repair data," Rich said in a statement, "we have noticed a trend in which the states with the highest repair costs tend to have a higher frequency of expensive repairs that could have been avoided if vehicle owners were more diligent with scheduled maintenance and had repairs made shortly after the check-engine light came on versus driving it in hopes it would go off."

Don't see your state? Find the full list of all 50 states and the District of Columbia at CarMD.com.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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Senior Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers.  Email Matt

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