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Auto Repair Costs are on the Rise

Car Repair Cost Increases By Region
Photo courtesy of CarMD

Your car is getting more expensive to fix, at least according to the 2013 CarMD Vehicle Health Index. The study found that for the first time in six years, the average repair cost rose 10 percent to $367.84 on 1996 to 2012 model year vehicles. Replacement part prices went up six percent in 2012, while labor charges rose 17 percent. CarMD says that the Northeast region saw the largest increase, with the cost of repairs rising by 11.56 percent last year.

More than 161,000 repairs from 2012 were analyzed for the 2013 CarMD Vehicle Index Study, which were validated by the company’s network of ASE-certified technicians.

The study reports that the most common problem that triggers vehicle check engine lights is a bad oxygen sensor, which can cause as much as a 40 percent reduction in fuel economy. A loose gas cap was the second most common repair, followed by replacement of the catalytic converter, ignition coil, spark plugs and wires.

The most costly repair in the CarMD database affected Honda Civics and Volvos from the 2001 model year. CarMD reports that replacing the transmission assembly and reprogramming the electronic control module cost an average of $5,474. “Inspect engine oil for correct level and viscosity,” is the least expensive repair, which simply means it’s time to check your oil.

While CarMD indicates that repair costs are up, the study also points to some good news for car owners. The Vehicle Health Index reports that automakers are building cars and parts that last longer, and that car owners are getting better at handling minor car repairs themselves. Additionally, repair costs on hybrid vehicles have dropped, in part because more hybrid cars and SUVs are on the road, but also because more mechanics are qualified to fix them. 

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