Drivers in Wyoming paid the most in the nation for car repairs at an average cost of $389.18, according to Corporation, which analyzed more than 160,000 repairs made on vehicles with "check engine" light problems in 2011. In Wyoming, home to two of the top 10 most visited national parks; motorists paid 17% more than the U.S. average for overall repairs, including 19% more for labor and 15% more for parts. Drivers in Indiana paid the least at $283.95 per transaction. Rounding out the top five most expensive states for car repair are no. 2 Utah, no. 3 California, no. 4 Montana and no. 5 Arizona. These states are home to half of the nation’s national parks and many popular, yet remote and higher-elevation driving destinations.


Several interesting findings emerge when comparing state-by-state repair rankings. The average cost of U.S. "check engine"-related auto repairs in 2011 was $333.93, including $215.32 in parts and $118.61 in labor. This figure is down 6% from 2010 repair costs, due in large part to a double-digit drop in labor costs. Industry contraction has a lot to do with the drop in labor rates, which are being partially offset by increased parts costs, and more severe repairs increasing in frequency and reaching the 10 most common problems list. Most states/districts experienced a drop in repair costs, with the exceptions being District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah. CarMD attributes Wyoming’s no. 1 ranking to harsh weather and high altitude that may wreak havoc on vehicles. Another factor is its more remote locations with widespread and reduced access to parts and people to service them, resulting in motorists’ tendency to put off smaller repairs. This is illustrated by the fact that catalytic converter repairs were the no. 2 most common reason the "check engine" light came on in Wyoming – it shouldn’t even be in the top 10. This is a very expensive repair, and often the result of putting off smaller repairs.


Other Key Findings:

  • The top five states with the highest car repair costs are from the West, including Wyoming, Utah, California, Montana and Arizona.
    1. This can partially be attributed to higher amounts of airborne dust. By putting off replacing air filters in western states, vehicle owners put their vehicles’ mass air flow sensors at risk. On average, this is a $400 repair.
  • Three of five states with the lowest car repair costs are from the Midwest, including: Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. Rounding out the most affordable states for auto repair are Maine and New Hampshire from the Northeastern U.S.
  • Texas set the benchmark in line with the national average at an average cost of $333.75 – just pennies less than the U.S. average. While large in geography and centrally located, Texas does not lead the nation with the most vehicle registrations per capita.
  • Drivers in Vermont paid the least for labor at $98.90, with those in Colorado paying the most at $143.17 for labor.
  • Drivers in Maine paid the least for parts at an average of $175.91, with those in Wyoming paying the most ($247.70).
  • The no. 1 most common repair across the country in was "Replace Oxygen (O2) Sensor." A faulty O2 sensor is often ignored because it may seem like the vehicle is driving fine, but can actually lead to as much as a 40% reduction in fuel economy.
    1. On average, motorists paid the least in Nebraska ($209.81) and the most in Illinois ($313.25) to have an O2 sensor replaced.The average cost to replace an O2 sensor, which measures the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust and tells a car’s computer when there is too much or not enough fuel as compared with oxygen for ideal operation is $246.39 in the U.S.
    2. In Wyoming, O2 sensors comprised 10.10% of repairs last year, at an average cost of $233.93. If ignored, a faulty O2 sensor can not only cause reduced fuel economy, but can also lead to more serious parts failures such as the catalytic converter. A faulty catalytic converter may then lead to complete engine seizure and roadside breakdown.
    3. "Replace Catalytic Converter(s)" accounted for 5.72% of repairs in Wyoming, at an average cost of $1,030.63. Original equipment parts are typically needed when replacing a catalytic converter. Catalytic converters contain three of the most precious metals – platinum, palladium and rhodium. They are usually not stocked by smaller or more rural repair shops due to their high cost.