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Where are car repairs the most expensive?

A new study from CarMD shows that the overall cost of repairs declined six percent in 2011, from an average of $356 to $334. For drivers seeking repairs in five Western states, however, the costs were much higher, at an average of $360.

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
Fox Valley Technical College Vehicle Refinishing and Repair majors, Ross Blazer, left, and Eric Van Rooy, right, work on a Toyota Prius as part of training in hybrid car repair in Appleton, Wisconsin in this March 2011 file photo. Wisconsin car repairs average among the cheapest in the nation; Wyoming's are most expensive.

A new study from CarMD, a consumer website, shows that the overall cost of car repairs declined six percent nationally in 2011, from an average of $356 in 2010 to an average $334 last year. But for drivers seeking repairs in five Western states, the costs were much higher at an average of $360.89.

The second annual study looked at 163,582 auto repairs in 2011 and ranked them state by state. Wyoming leads the nation for most expensive car repairs, recording an average $389.18 repair bill, with $247.70 in parts and $141.48 in labor costs.

Why is Wyoming at the top of the list for most expensive car repairs? According to CarMD, Wyoming repair costs were 17 percent higher than the US average. The most common auto repair in Wyoming, and nationwide, was “Replace Oxygen (O2) Sensor,” accounting for 10.10 percent of the state’s auto repairs last year.  Failure to replace the O2 sensor not only reduces fuel efficiency, but can also lead to more serious problems – such as a faulty catalytic converter. Engine seizure and a roadside breakdown may be the result of such neglected repair. “Replace Catalytic Converter” accounted for 5.72 percent of Wyoming’s 2011 repairs. And this is a costly repair, averaging $1,030.63, since it requires three expensive precious metals: platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Top five-states for average total auto repair costs for “Check Engine Light”

  • Wyoming - $389.18
  • Utah - $378.54
  • California - $367.86
  • Montana - $364.29
  • Arizona - $362.65

At the bottom of the state-by-state ranking, in terms of lowest overall average auto repair costs for “Check Engine Light” are the following five states, three of which are in the Midwest:

  • Indiana - $283.95
  • Maine - $289.56
  • Wisconsin - $289.90
  • Iowa - $289.91
  • New Hampshire - $292.66
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