The Most Expensive States to Fix Your Car

June 15, 2016 by Sam Stebbins

Mechanic inspecting car
Source: Thinkstock
Automobiles are one of the most expensive purchases many Americans make in their lifetimes. A car or truck’s sticker price is only the beginning of this expense, however, as maintenance and repair — both anticipated and otherwise — can be costly. Just how expensive a visit to the mechanic can be varies dramatically depending on where you live.

To determine the most (and least) expensive states for car repairs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the average amount paid for parts and labor in each state. CarMD, an automotive diagnostics information company, compiled and provided the data. Across the country, American motorists shell out an average of $387.31 when the check engine light goes on. This amount ranges from as high as $435.47 in California to as little as $354.13 in Michigan.

A variety of factors determine and influence the cost of parts and labor state by state. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Kristin Brocoff, director of corporate communications at CarMD, explained that car repair costs can often be minimized if drivers address small issues quickly.

Click here to see the most expensive states to fix your car.

Across the country, the most common reason for a check engine light turning on is when there is a problem with a vehicle’s oxygen sensor. Replacing an oxygen sensor is relatively inexpensive, costing only a couple of hundred dollars in parts and labor. However, as Brocoff pointed out, if not addressed immediately, it could “potentially start to do damage to other parts of the car so then you don’t just need one part replaced, you need two.”

After the oxygen sensor, the second most common reason for a check engine light turning on is the catalytic converter, a part that can cost more than a thousand dollars. “If we’re seeing an influx of catalytic converter replacements,” Brocoff said, “maybe that tells you that those drivers are keeping their cars longer — or, they are ignoring smaller things” that have snowballed into a more serious issue.

While owner neglect and the age of a car are factors that can considerably influence the total cost of repairs, geography also makes a difference. “When you’re driving in stop and go traffic, or when there’s been a very severe winter and there’s a lot of salt on the road, we do see more frequent repairs and we do see costs go up in those situations,” Brocoff said.

Basic economics also plays a role in automotive labor costs. In an area with “lower real estate costs, everything trickles down, and the average price that they charge you per hour will be different than in California or New York.” Indeed, with the exception of Illinois, in every state where the average cost of repair is less than the national average, the overall cost of living is also below average.

The report only includes the cost of repairs for issues indicated by the check engine light and excludes other damage to mechanical parts of the car such as tires and struts. Bad road conditions can lead to mechanical issues over time, and as a result, the states with the highest cost of car maintenance are not necessarily the states with the worst roads. Still, high labor costs certainly have a larger effect on motorists’ wallets in states where roads are in poor condition.

In order to determine the most and least expensive states for car repair, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the average cost of a car repair from CarMD. The total cost of repair represents the sum of the average amount paid for parts and for labor. Only repairs that were triggered by the check engine light were considered. Regional price parity figures came from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the percent of roadway in poor condition came from the Federal Highway Administration.

Northbound Interstate 75, Detroit, Michigan
Source: Thinkstock

50. Michigan
> Total cost of repairs:
$354.13
> Avg. labor cost: $150.29 (23rd lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $203.84 (the lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 13.6% (13th highest)

Wind Farm, Highway, Indiana
Source: Thinkstock

49. Indiana
> Total cost of repairs:
$355.98
> Avg. labor cost: $148.17 (17th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $207.81 (2nd lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 11.0% (18th highest)

Country Drive through Covered Bridge, Ohio
Source: Thinkstock

48. Ohio
> Total cost of repairs:
$356.38
> Avg. labor cost: $144.69 (8th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $211.69 (5th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 12.5% (15th highest)

White Barn and Silo, Wisconsin
Source: Thinkstock

47. Wisconsin
> Total cost of repairs:
$356.9
> Avg. labor cost: $145.49 (9th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $211.41 (4th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 15.0% (12th highest)

Heartland Landscape with Road, Iowa, Car, Rural
Source: Thinkstock

46. Iowa
> Total cost of repairs:
$358.27
> Avg. labor cost: $148.15 (16th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $210.12 (3rd lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 13.0% (14th highest)

Road in Acadia National Park Maine
Source: Thinkstock

45. Maine
> Total cost of repairs:
$361.44
> Avg. labor cost: $141.42 (3rd lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $220.02 (10th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 5.5% (18th lowest)

Auto junk yard Colby Kansas on Highway 24
Source: Thinkstock

44. Kansas
> Total cost of repairs:
$368.7
> Avg. labor cost: $151.98 (22nd highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $216.72 (7th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 3.8% (9th lowest)

Arriving at Route 66 State Park, Missouri
Source: Thinkstock

43. Missouri
> Total cost of repairs:
$368.71
> Avg. labor cost: $149.4 (19th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $219.31 (9th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 3.1% (6th lowest)

Buffalo of Oklahoma.
Source: Thinkstock

42. Oklahoma
> Total cost of repairs:
$369.71
> Avg. labor cost: $153.65 (19th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $216.06 (6th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 11.7% (17th highest)

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RV class C climbing scenic mountain road in the Badlands,
Source: Thinkstock

41. South Dakota
> Total cost of repairs:
$370.26
> Avg. labor cost: $147.26 (11th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $223 (11th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 4.7% (14th lowest)

Bridge in downtown Chicago, Illinois
Source: Thinkstock

40. Illinois
> Total cost of repairs:
$372.25
> Avg. labor cost: $147.56 (12th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $224.69 (15th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 9.8% (21st highest)

Detail of a mechanic at work on car engine
Source: Thinkstock

39. Nebraska
> Total cost of repairs:
$373.26
> Avg. labor cost: $149.48 (20th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $223.78 (12th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 6.6% (22nd lowest)

New River Gorge Bridge
Source: Thinkstock

38. West Virginia
> Total cost of repairs:
$374.41
> Avg. labor cost: $149.85 (22nd lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $224.56 (13th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 5.4% (17th lowest)

French Quarter at night
Source: Thinkstock

37. Louisiana
> Total cost of repairs:
$381.21
> Avg. labor cost: $154.14 (17th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $227.07 (16th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 18.1% (9th highest)

Philadelphia skyline - Pennsylvania - USA United States of America
Source: Thinkstock

36. Pennsylvania
> Total cost of repairs:
$381.21
> Avg. labor cost: $147.92 (15th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $233.29 (20th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 12.1% (16th highest)

An auto mechanic repairing the suspension on a car
Source: Thinkstock

35. Alabama
> Total cost of repairs:
$383.04
> Avg. labor cost: $152.81 (21st highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $230.23 (17th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 3.9% (10th lowest)

Minneapolis 35W Bridge, Skyline and Lightrails at Sunset
Source: Thinkstock

34. Minnesota
> Total cost of repairs:
$384.73
> Avg. labor cost: $151.8 (23rd highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $232.93 (18th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 6.7% (23rd lowest)

Road to Nashville, Tennessee
Source: Thinkstock

33. Tennessee
> Total cost of repairs:
$385.21
> Avg. labor cost: $151.24 (24th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $233.97 (23rd lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 5.0% (15th lowest)

Pile of scrap cars
Source: Thinkstock

32. Arizona
> Total cost of repairs:
$385.64
> Avg. labor cost: $160.98 (13th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $224.66 (14th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 4.3% (12th lowest)

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Vintage Car with Longhonr Steers
Source: Thinkstock

31. Texas
> Total cost of repairs:
$386.49
> Avg. labor cost: $153.32 (20th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $233.17 (19th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 10.7% (20th highest)

USA, Florida, Miami, Car on road
Source: Thinkstock

30. Florida
> Total cost of repairs:
$387.37
> Avg. labor cost: $146.98 (10th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $240.39 (22nd highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 2.6% (3rd lowest)

New York August 22, 2015
Source: Thinkstock

29. New York
> Total cost of repairs:
$388.74
> Avg. labor cost: $142.73 (6th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $246.01 (16th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 23.5% (7th highest)

Traffic Out of Charleston, South Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

28. South Carolina
> Total cost of repairs:
$388.97
> Avg. labor cost: $151.09 (25th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $237.88 (25th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 2.8% (4th lowest)

Blair Covered Bridge
Source: Thinkstock

27. New Hampshire
> Total cost of repairs:
$389.49
> Avg. labor cost: $142.24 (5th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $247.25 (15th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 7.5% (25th highest)

mechanic
Source: Thinkstock

26. Kentucky
> Total cost of repairs:
$389.55
> Avg. labor cost: $150.46 (24th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $239.09 (24th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 3.0% (5th lowest)

Truck on dirt road
Source: Thinkstock

25. Arkansas
> Total cost of repairs:
$390.65
> Avg. labor cost: $173.54 (2nd highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $217.11 (8th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 7.8% (24th highest)

Red Sportscar Hot Rod Hood Driving into Vermont Mountains
Source: Thinkstock

24. Vermont
> Total cost of repairs:
$390.79
> Avg. labor cost: $130.54 (the lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $260.25 (7th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 6.5% (21st lowest)

Bridges Over River
Source: Thinkstock

23. Mississippi
> Total cost of repairs:
$390.92
> Avg. labor cost: $157.46 (16th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $233.46 (21st lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 7.4% (25th lowest)

AUTUMN TRAFFIC LINN COVE VIADUCT
Source: Thinkstock

22. North Carolina
> Total cost of repairs:
$395.14
> Avg. labor cost: $149.14 (18th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $246 (17th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 6.1% (19th lowest)

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Auto mechanic on work
Source: Thinkstock

21. Delaware
> Total cost of repairs:
$398.3
> Avg. labor cost: $147.64 (13th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $250.66 (12th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 8.1% (23rd highest)

Las Vegas Fountains
Source: Thinkstock

20. Nevada
> Total cost of repairs:
$400.18
> Avg. labor cost: $162.42 (12th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $237.76 (25th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 1.4% (the lowest)

Boston downtown street traffic Massachusetts
Source: Thinkstock

19. Massachusetts
> Total cost of repairs:
$400.64
> Avg. labor cost: $140.25 (2nd lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $260.39 (6th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 30.0% (2nd highest)

SUV at Coast hawaii
Source: Thinkstock

18. Hawaii
> Total cost of repairs:
$404.04
> Avg. labor cost: $170.11 (5th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $233.93 (22nd lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 28.7% (4th highest)

Portrait of a mechanic at work in his garage
Source: Thinkstock

17. Oregon
> Total cost of repairs:
$404.07
> Avg. labor cost: $162.52 (11th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $241.55 (21st highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 6.5% (20th lowest)

Family trip new mexico
Source: Thinkstock

16. New Mexico
> Total cost of repairs:
$405.06
> Avg. labor cost: $170.69 (4th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $234.37 (24th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 5.1% (16th lowest)

Mountain Views in Wasilla, Alaska
Source: Thinkstock

15. Alaska
> Total cost of repairs:
$407.09
> Avg. labor cost: $158.4 (15th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $248.69 (13th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 26.0% (6th highest)

Downtown Seattle City Skyline Interstate 5 Cars Divided Highway
Source: Thinkstock

14. Washington
> Total cost of repairs:
$407.77
> Avg. labor cost: $167.59 (8th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $240.18 (23rd highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 17.8% (10th highest)

Offroad driving
Source: Thinkstock

13. Utah
> Total cost of repairs:
$407.98
> Avg. labor cost: $165.05 (10th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $242.93 (19th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 2.4% (2nd lowest)

recreational vehicles on scenic mountain road
Source: Thinkstock

12. Idaho
> Total cost of repairs:
$408.27
> Avg. labor cost: $166.15 (9th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $242.12 (20th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 7.3% (24th lowest)

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White truck along road in Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park,
Source: Thinkstock

11. Virginia
> Total cost of repairs:
$409.3
> Avg. labor cost: $150.71 (25th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $258.59 (9th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 8.4% (22nd highest)

downtown atlanta skyline
Source: Thinkstock

10. Georgia
> Total cost of repairs:
$410.02
> Avg. labor cost: $153.71 (18th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $256.31 (10th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 4.6% (13th lowest)

Glacier National Park
Source: Thinkstock

9. Montana
> Total cost of repairs:
$416.06
> Avg. labor cost: $172.85 (3rd highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $243.21 (18th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 3.5% (7th lowest)

Car on road in winter.
Source: Thinkstock

8. Colorado
> Total cost of repairs:
$416.34
> Avg. labor cost: $168.46 (6th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $247.88 (14th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 10.8% (19th highest)

Merritt Parkway CT
Source: Thinkstock

7. Connecticut
> Total cost of repairs:
$416.47
> Avg. labor cost: $144.51 (7th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $271.96 (2nd highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 17.0% (11th highest)

The Claiborne Pell Bridge Sunset
Source: Thinkstock

6. Rhode Island
> Total cost of repairs:
$416.92
> Avg. labor cost: $141.65 (4th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $275.27 (the highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 39.7% (the highest)

Traffic Break Lights
Source: Thinkstock

5. New Jersey
> Total cost of repairs:
$418.55
> Avg. labor cost: $147.68 (14th lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $270.87 (3rd highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 30.0% (3rd highest)

Mirror of car driving through rural fields, North Dakota
Source: Thinkstock

4. North Dakota
> Total cost of repairs:
$419.24
> Avg. labor cost: $159.26 (14th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $259.98 (8th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 4.1% (11th lowest)

Drawbridge
Source: Thinkstock

3. Maryland
> Total cost of repairs:
$419.37
> Avg. labor cost: $149.57 (21st lowest)
> Avg. parts cost: $269.8 (4th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 20.8% (8th highest)

Wyoming Winter Traffic Jam
Source: Thinkstock

2. Wyoming
> Total cost of repairs:
$427.75
> Avg. labor cost: $174.98 (the highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $252.77 (11th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 3.7% (8th lowest)

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Rear view of traffic on a street, Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles, California, USA
Source: Thinkstock

1. California
> Total cost of repairs:
$435.47
> Avg. labor cost: $167.85 (7th highest)
> Avg. parts cost: $267.62 (5th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in poor condition: 27.2% (5th highest)