Top 5 states with the highest car repair costs

July 14, 2021
CarMD released its annual state ranking of check engine light-related car repair costs for 2020.
Source: Corp.
Source: Corp. Corporation released yesterday its annual state ranking of check engine light-related car repair costs. The report found vehicle owners in California paid the most ($411) and Ohio the least ($342) to have it fixed during calendar year 2020. 

CarMD analyzed data from more than 13.9 million cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs whose drivers sought guidance for a check engine light problem in 2020. This was down nearly 13 percent from the 15.9 million check engine light issues analyzed by CarMD the previous year.

Several factors contribute to a state's average repair costs, including vehicle age and type, how difficult the repair is, required parts, how much time is needed to make the repair, and what the repair shop charges per hour. In addition, there were fewer drivers on the road in 2020 that resulted in fewer car repairs as pandemic-related shutdowns and essential travel guidance gripped most of the country. 

"As people get back on the road, now is a great time to catch up on vehicle inspections and car maintenance, which can reduce the likelihood of unexpected and costly car repairs," said David Rich, technical director, CarMD.

CarMD's ranking of the five states/districts with the highest car repair costs in 2020:

  1. California, $410.73

  2. Connecticut, $406.49

  3. Colorado, $403.03

  4. District of Columbia, $400.68

  5. Utah, $395.86

CarMD's ranking of the five states/districts with the lowest car repair costs in 2020:

  47. Indiana, $352.20

  48. Michigan, $347.82

  49. Wisconsin, $344.45

  50. Maine, $342.12

  51. Ohio, $341.83

Other key findings:

Labor costs: For the fifth consecutive year, Vermont had the lowest average labor cost ($125.95). For the third year in a row, drivers in Mississippi paid the most on average for labor ($152.63), where the most common repair was to replace ignition coils and spark plugs. The type of repair, how long the repair will take, and whether you opt to do it yourself or have it repaired by a professional automotive technician, all factor into average labor costs for a car repair.

Parts costs: In 2020, drivers in Connecticut paid the most on average for parts ($268.70), while drivers in Michigan paid the least for parts ($202.16). The most frequently recommended repair in Connecticut was to replace the catalytic converter. The most common repair in Michigan last year was to replace an oxygen sensor. The type of vehicle, type of repair, and whether OE parts are used factor into average parts cost.

COVID-19 economy impact: Several reports, including a Wallethub ranking and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Reports, listed Hawaii and Nevada among the states hardest hit by Coronavirus shutdowns. CarMD ascertains that reduced mileage and commutes, fewer rideshare trips, competition among auto repair shops, and more time at home for DIY repairs – particularly in states hardest hit by shutdowns – impacted repair costs and rankings. Hawaii moved from no. 6 to no. 45, dropping from an average repair cost of $402.91 in 2019 to $356.54 in 2020. Nevada dropped from no. 15 to no. 40 with its average car repair cost dipping from $395.89 in 2019 to $364.59 last year.

CarMD publishes this annual state-by-state ranking as part of its Vehicle Health Index. To view the 2021 CarMD state ranking of car repair costs for data collected in calendar year 2020, visit

About the Author

Kayla Nadler | Associate Editor | Vehicle Repair Group

Kayla (Oschmann) Nadler is an associate editor for the Vehicle Repair Group.

With an education in journalism and public relations, Nadler contributes to Professional Tool & Equipment News (PTEN) and Professional Distributor magazines, as well as

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