The Fix Is In: New Jersey Has Costliest Car Repairs


A bumper crop of parts-and-labor cost increases has made the Garden State the most expensive state when it comes to having your car fixed. With an average total diagnostics-and-repair bill of $392.99, New Jersey ascended to No. 1 in 2012 from No. 10 a year earlier on Corp.'s annual state-by-state ranking of car-repair costs, the California-based consumer-information provider announced today.

New Jersey was in good company, though; the repair-cost trend in 2012 generally moved from west to east while associated expenses nationwide headed north, as motorists' attention to their check-engine lights went south. Whereas the western U.S. accounted for all five of the top states with the highest repair costs in 2011, Eastern states including New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia, dominated the top five in 2012, with California being the lone West Coast representative. Overall, repair costs across the nation related to vehicles' check-engine lights averaged $367.84, a 10% increase; the Northeast saw the greatest increase among regions, at nearly 11.6%, while the West rose just more than 6.5%. CarMD cited vehicle owners' procrastination in having repairs made, particularly catalytic converters, as a major reason for the increases as delayed repairs become more expensive as problems worsen.

CarMD State-by-State Repair Costs

CarMD gleaned its state-by-state ranking from an analysis of more than 161,000 check-engine-related repairs made on model-year 1996-2012 vehicles in 2012. "In 2012, we saw a dramatic shift in the top five most expensive states for average car repairs, as many drivers along the East Coast incurred rising auto-repair costs, while they simultaneously contended with Hurricane Sandy's aftermath," CarMD said in a statement. "Car owners in many states also continued to put off small repairs, contributing to cumulative failures with increased repair costs."

CarMD says Hurricane Sandy is the reason why New Jersey car owners doubled the number of trips they made to the service station, initially for flood damage but later for unrelated problems discovered during those trips that led to repairs previously put off. As a result, New Jersey drivers saw a nearly 21% increase in labor rates and an 8.2% increase in parts costs. They also paid more for catalytic converter replacement at $1,112.48; catalytic converter repairs were the second most common reason the check-engine light came on in three of the five states with the highest repair costs, CarMD reported.

Other key findings:

  • The most affordable state for auto repair is Vermont, the only Northeastern state to enjoy a decline in average costs in 2012.
  • The District of Columbia saw the largest overall increase in repair costs, up 20%, as time-consuming procedures costing more than $1,000 overtook quick fixes with smaller price tags.
  • Wyoming had the greatest drop in average repair costs, at 17%, in part attributed to fewer catalytic converter replacements.
  • Vermont also had the lowest average labor cost, at $115.90, though still more than a $25 increase from 2011; Colorado's $150.75 was the highest average labor cost.
  • New Jersey motorists paid the most for parts on average ($256.28) while Vermont again enjoyed the national low of $153.82.

Car-Repair Costs Drop, but Southwest Still Pays Most

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By Matt Schmitz | June 11, 2013 | Comments (11)
Tags: Maintenance


DeBinder Dundett

The longer you keep a vehicle the more likely it is to need repair.

This is why leasing has become so popular. And many people, who can, will keep their new car only for as long as the warranty lasts.

Let the repairs be someone else's problem. Anyone who buys used is buying other people's problems.

Those who cannot afford to lease or trade their new vehicles, and those forced to buy used, will bear the brunt of these increased repair costs.

Get smart! Buy new. Trade often. Let someone else pay the repair bill.

Buying new means you lose about a third of your investment as soon as you drive it off the forecourt. "Buy 'nearly-new' and trade often" should be the mantra!


I think buying a good used low-mileage car (with cash) and keeping it a long time is the best way to go. Why always make payments on something?

If you take care of it, drive it responsibly and keep up with maintenance, you'll have a reliable, affordable vehicle. Why "trade often" when you have a perfectly fine vehicle?


I'll be 64 in less than a month. I've owned two cars in my life, both purchased (cash) new: a '72 Ford Maverick and a '90 Honda Civic CRX HF. Sold the first one after 37 years for $500 (the buyer wanted its - 3rd - engine) when the unibody rust got terminal given my (lack of) welding skills. The Honda presently has 223,000+ miles on it. Maintenance costs on both vehicles were/continue to be minimal. Doing your own maintenance helps mightily, as does the reality of a "If it's not there it can't fail," philosophy. When I compare my vehicles' acquisition/maintenance costs with friends' and acquaintances' costs, there's no doubt which approach is more expensive.

New Jersey is mainly a commuter state, meaning that many are driving to the outside cities for work. They need to ensure that their cars of reliable and able to stand a variety of different climates and seasons, this may mean that drivers need to take their cars to get maintenance more often.

Doesn't surprise me that car repair costs are so high. Cars are expensive these days, and they use expensive parts. Fixing those parts isn't cheap!

your blog is very nice i love it

i love your blog you are the great job

Really very much informative regarding the car repair.

It is very much essential to repair your car. Car repair and service are very costly right now. It is because of the high price value of car models and car parts. So, it is quite expensive to repair or replace car parts.

it is amazing blog and post i like it

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