In 2011, overall repair costs were down 6% from the previous year, including a 17% decrease in labor costs but 1.4% increase in parts costs, which we attribute to the tsunami and other natural disasters overseas, which have caused an increase in many hard good costs.
 

Vehicle age plays a role in the most common repair ranking.

  • The average vehicle is now 10.8 years old. The no. 1 “check engine” repair for model year 2001 vehicles, which is in line with the average vehicle age, is a damaged or loose gas cap (8.26%).
  • The gas cap is also the most common culprit for newer vehicle repairs, accounting for a whopping 26.9% of fixes on model year 2011 vehicles.
 
April’s Car Care Awareness Month Small problems lead to big problems with big price tags during Car Care Awarenes Month (or any time of year). It is always an important time to pay attention to small problems and warning signs. Ignore a spark plug problem (currently the no. 6 most common problem) and a $10 part could turn into a $300 “ignition coil and spark plug” repair (currently the no. 4 most common repair). Ignore that and you may need to replace your car’s catalytic converter at an average cost of $1,000 (no. 3 most common repair).
 
The CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™ illustrates that while hybrid repairs are still statistically rare, when they happen they can be very pricey; however, the costs are coming down with increased volume of hybrids on the road, as well as parts and people trained to service them.
  •  Hybrids accounted for 3 of the top 10 most expensive repairs in 2011.
  •  The no. 1 most expensive repair in 2011 was “replace hybrid inverter assembly” ($4,098), but the same repair has historically cost as much as $7,391 in some cases.
 
When caught early, automotive repairs can be affordable. The 15 least expensive repairs in the CarMD database account for nearly 10% of all repairs and average only $72.03.
 
Drivers in the western U.S. pay the most for car repairs at an average cost of $360.89, which is 17% more than drivers in the Midwest, who pay the least ($309.75).