Supplement, Wheelers

Where fixing a car costs most

Published : 28 Jul 2019 05:00 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 07:35 PM

Douglas A McIntyre

The check engine light goes on, and suddenly you are on your way to the repair shop or dealership instead of somewhere more pleasant. The cost to repair a car varies substantially from state to state, which can contribute significantly to the overall cost of ownership.

In a new annual research report, CarMD looked at car repair costs in each state and the District of Columbia in 2018. For a repair to be considered, it had to be related to a check engine light. The data included information on 11.4 million cars.

David Rich, technical director at CarMD, described the methodology: "Several factors contribute to a state’s average repair costs, including vehicle age and type, how difficult the repair is, parts required, how much time is needed to make the repair, and what the repair shop charges per hour. To help reduce the cost of repairs and avoid unexpected car repair costs, drivers should stay up to date on scheduled maintenance, address warning lights as soon as possible and find an independent repair shop or dealership they trust."

The most expensive place to repair a car was not a state at all. The District of Columbia posted the highest repair costs at $414.02 a year. Connecticut was close behind at $413.91. That was followed by California at $403.13, Georgia at $402.66 and New Jersey at $401.59.

This is when many people might be asking about insurance and what it covers. Those feeling as if they are paying more for car insurance are not wrong. Premiums have jumped between 2011 and 2018. The most expensive cars to insure include the Dodge Challenger and the Tesla Model S.

At the other end of the spectrum, the least expensive state for car repairs was Ohio, with an average of $354.24 per year. The cost in Maine was slightly higher, at $354.38. The price in Michigan was $356.16, while the cost in Wisconsin was $356.84 and in Vermont was $359.64.

Some people may choose to buy a new car to minimize the chance of having to pay for any repairs, at least not for a few months. And they won't even have to buy a luxury car because some less expensive cars rank among the best. The best new car brands of 2019 included Kia and Hyundai.