CarMD Finds Motorists in Michigan Paid Least, California Drivers Paid Most for Check Engine-Related Car Repairs in 2015

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CarMD Vehicle Health Index reports on state-by-state costs and repair trends

CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™ State-by-State Check Engine-Related Repair Costs

The technicians at CarMD can’t stress enough how important it is to address check engine light problems early to minimize repair costs.

When a vehicle’s check engine light comes on, drivers in California now pay the most ($435) on average, while vehicle owners in Michigan pay the least ($354) to have it fixed, according to CarMD, which analyzed data from more than 1 million vehicles needing repairs in 2015. Rounding out the five most expensive states for auto repairs are Wyoming (no. 2), Maryland (no. 3), North Dakota (no. 4) and New Jersey (no. 5). After Michigan, the most affordable states for car repairs are Indiana (no. 50), Ohio (no. 49), Wisconsin (no. 48) and Iowa (no. 47).

When vehicles have check engine light problems, the leading culprit is a faulty oxygen sensor, the most frequently diagnosed repair in 25 states. Properly operating oxygen sensors are important to a car’s performance and to the environment; if left unfixed, a faulty O2 sensor can negatively impact a car’s fuel economy and cause damage to other parts of the car.

“The technicians at CarMD can’t stress enough how important it is to address check engine light problems early to minimize repair costs,” said David Rich, CarMD’s technical director. “Many drivers ignore O2 sensor problems because it seems like their car is driving just fine, but it is really guzzling a lot of extra gasoline and will likely end up causing ancillary problems that drive up car repair costs down the road.”

Rich adds that in addition to addressing check engine issues, it is important for vehicle owners from coast to coast to follow a regularly scheduled service maintenance program to optimize vehicle operating efficiency and reliability.

A leading provider of automotive diagnostic information, CarMD publishes this annual state-by-state ranking as part of its CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™. It is designed to bring awareness to car and truck owners about the importance of check engine light health to minimize cost of ownership. CarMD also offers online and in-app Health and History reports to enable vehicle owners and used car shoppers to check for upcoming maintenance items, common check engine light repairs and Predictive Failures™ listing the likelihood of potential upcoming repairs, including estimated labor and parts costs.

CarMD’s ranking of the five states/districts with the highest car repair costs in 2015:

1. California ($435.47)
2. Wyoming ($427.75)
3. Maryland ($419.37)
4. North Dakota ($419.24)
5. New Jersey ($418.55)

CarMD ranking of the five states/districts with the lowest car repair costs in 2015:

47. Iowa ($358.27)
48. Wisconsin ($356.90)
49. Ohio ($356.38)
50. Indiana ($355.98)
51. Michigan ($354.13)

To view the full findings, including state-by-state ranking table, visit

Key findings:

U.S. Average: The average cost for check engine light-related repairs in the U.S. in 2015 was $387. 31. Florida is closest to the U.S. average at $387.37, which is just 6 cents from the national mean.

Labor and Parts Costs: Michigan vehicle owners paid the least for both labor ($150) and parts ($203) on average. Drivers in Wyoming paid the most for labor ($175) on average and vehicle owners in Vermont paid the least for parts ($131). Several factors contribute to average parts and labor costs, including vehicle make and age, parts availability, difficulty of repair and hourly labor rates.

Repair Costs Vary by State: The same repair can vary in cost from state to state. To replace a car’s ignition coil(s) and spark (plugs), the average cost is $435 in Washington, whereas the same type of repair in Vermont costs 16 percent less at $364 on average. A catalytic converter replacement costs on average $1,226 in New Hampshire, but only $891 in Hawaii. And the average cost for parts and labor to replace a car’s oxygen sensor(s) in 2015 varied from a low of $216 in Wyoming to a high of $290 in Delaware.

It Pays to Address Small Problems: 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. For example, loose gas cap-related problems happened nearly twice as much in Wisconsin as in North Dakota. CarMD encourages vehicle owners to have check engine problems diagnosed early because in many cases it is a common repair like an oxygen sensor or simple, affordable fix like a loose gas cap causing the problem. Addressing warning lights early helps reduce the chances of doing additional damage to your vehicle.

CarMD’s state ranking of repair costs was derived from analysis of 1,019,904 repairs identified for model year 1996 to 2015 vehicles from Jan. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2015 reported to and analyzed by CarMD’s nationwide team of ASE-certified technicians. All 51 U.S. states/districts, including the District of Columbia, are represented in this Index. The repairs are related to a vehicle’s on-board diagnostic (OBD2) system, which is standard on all vehicles manufactured since 1996. It monitors emissions-related systems within a vehicle, triggering the check engine light when a problem occurs. CarMD does not report on problems that are outside the scope of a vehicle’s OBD2 computer monitoring such as tires, and mechanical parts like belts and hoses.

About CarMD
Based in Irvine, Calif., CarMD is a leading provider of automotive diagnostic information, products and services that leverage and empower the capabilities of the on-board diagnostics (OBD2) port. CarMD’s network of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)-certified technicians has built the largest, most current database of OBD2-related expert repairs and associated costs from which CarMD draws its Vehicle Health Index™ reports. This Index is released each summer to provide vehicle owners and the industry with a state-by-state analysis of car repair trends and costs. For information on CarMD’s products and third-party software service solutions, visit For current and archived CarMD Vehicle Health Index reports, visit

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