The Fix Is In: Study Ranks Spendiest States for Car Repairs

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CARS.COM — California is the top hot spot for auto theft. It’s home to the crummiest commute in the country. And it’s been ranked the second worst state for drivers overall. Welp, just go ahead and throw this one on the pile: The Golden State is also the most expensive in the U.S. for car repairs.

Related: CarMD: When Check Engine Light Goes on, Check Engine, Stat!

According to a study by CarMD of more than a million vehicle repairs in 2015, the average total cost of a check engine light-related repair in California was $435.47. That includes $167.85 for labor and $267.62 for parts. California — which ranked No. 4 in the automotive diagnostic info provider’s study last year — bumped the District of Columbia from the top spot. Wyoming shot all the way to No. 2 this time around, with an average repair cost of $427.75, after ranking dead last in the previous study.

Michigan was the cheapest state for car repairs with a total average cost of $354.13, including $150.29 for labor and $203.84 for parts. Florida, meanwhile, ranked closest to the national average repair cost (off by just 6 cents), landing at No. 31 with $387.37.

The top 10 most expensive states (including the District of Columbia) for car repairs, followed by the average parts-and-labor price, are:

10. District of Columbia, $411.15

9. Montana, $416.06

8. Colorado, $416.34

7. Connecticut, $416.47

6. Rhode Island, $416.92

5. New Jersey, $418.55

4. North Dakota, $419.24

3. Maryland, $419.37

2. Wyoming, $427.75

1. California, $435.47

The top 10 least expensive states for car repairs are:

10. South Dakota, $370.26

9. Oklahoma, $369.71

8. Missouri, $368.71

7. Kansas, $368.70

6. Maine, $361.44

5. Iowa, $358.27

4. Wisconsin, $356.90

3. Ohio, $356.38

2. Indiana, $355.98

1. Michigan, $354.13

CarMD said it compiled the annual repair-cost rankings to bring awareness to vehicle owners about the importance of check engine light repairs in minimizing the cost of ownership. The most common cause of check engine lights coming on, according to the study, was a faulty oxygen sensor. It was the most frequently diagnosed repair in half of all U.S. states and one that, if left unrepaired, can hurt fuel economy.

“The least expensive states tend to have a higher percentage of repairs that can be addressed in a matter of minutes versus major parts replacements that require days in the shop,” CarMD said in a statement. “CarMD encourages vehicle owners to have check engine problems diagnosed early because in many cases it is a common repair … Addressing warning lights early helps reduce the chances of doing additional damage to your vehicle.”

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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