2019

Vehicle Health Index

Published by CarMD, April 2019

Highlights

The check engine light is designed to come on when a vehicle’s computer sees a problem that affects emissions or drivetrain issues. It could be as simple as a loose gas cap or severe such as engine failure. Ignore it and you’ll hurt the car’s fuel economy, harm the environment and end up at the repair shop. The annual CarMD Vehicle Health Index reports on the most common check engine light-related repairs, costs and trends to provide auto repair professionals with the tools to remind vehicle owners about the importance of paying attention to maintenance needs and inspections to help avoid unforeseen problems.


In 2018 – for the first time since CarMD has reported on these rankings – we saw a tie in the no. 1 most common check engine light repair, with “replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) and “replace oxygen sensor” each accounting for 5.81% of repairs. Rounding out the top five are no. 3 “replace catalytic converter(s),” no. 4 “tighten or replace loose or damaged gas cap” and no. 5 “replace ignition coil(s)”


U.S. car repair costs were up 6.5% year-over-year from 2017 to 2018. The average check engine light repair cost is now $380.

  • This increase was comprised of an 11% increase in labor and 3.5% increase in average parts costs.
  • While auto repair costs are on the rise, they are still more than 4 % below the 10-year high of $397 in 2016.

Car repair costs were up across all four U.S. regions.

  • The West saw the largest increase (8%) and vehicle owners in the Midwest only paid about 1% more for repairs.
  • Vehicle owners in the West paid the most for check engine-related car repairs ($387) – nearly 6 % more than drivers in the Midwest, who paid the least ($366).

The most expensive repair was “replace engine,” costing as much as $7,150. Drivers shouldn’t panic when their car’s check engine light comes on because this repair only accounted for one-half of 1% of repairs. Some of the least expensive repairs included “replace gas cap,” and “replace electronic throttle control system (ETCS) fuse” – both which typically cost under $50.

Wait, there’s more


If you’re interested in more info on the current state of vehicle health, download the PDF below. What you see on this page is only about 10% of all the info we have to offer – don’t miss the rest!


Stats


Calendar year 2018’s most common ‘check engine’ vehicle repairs for…

Rank Vehicle Repair Total Average Repair Cost (Parts & Labor) % 2018 Repairs Change in Rank Since 2017
1 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) $391.42 5.81% from No. 2
2 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $244.04 5.81% No Change
3 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,371.17 4.93% No Change
4 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $25.86 4.18% No Change
5 Replace Ignition Coil(s) $217.91 3.64% from No. 7
6 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve $149.52 3.61% from No. 5
7 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $340.58 3.60% from No. 6
8 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Solenoid $153.70 2.78% No Change
9 Replace Fuel Injector(s) $449.73 2.71% No Change
10 Replace Thermostat $244.61 2.40% No Change

(Ten most common vehicle repairs are based on 11,419,150 repairs recommended in calendar year 2018 on 1996-2018 model year vehicles. This data applies to > 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans, SUVs and hybrids on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Rank Vehicle Repair Total Average Repair Cost (Parts & Labor) % 2018 Repairs Change in Western Rank Since 2017
1 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $257.11 5.27% No change
2 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) $389.03 5.04% No change
3 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,385.59 4.99% No change
4 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $25.36 4.77% No change
5 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $352.59 4.21% No change
6 Replace Ignition Coil(s) $220.85 3.67% No change
7 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve $151.41 3.33% No change
8 Replace Thermostat $244.46 2.64% from no. 10
9 Replace Fuel Injector(s) $483.18 2.57% No change
10 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Solenoid $153.19 2.50% from no. 8

(Ten most common vehicle repairs in the Western U.S. are based on 2,972,172 repairs in 2017  in AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA and WY. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Rank Vehicle Repair Total Average Repair Cost (Parts & Labor) % 2018 Repairs Change in Midwest Rank Since 2017
1 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $237.95 6.19% No change
2 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,335.13 4.98% from no. 3
3 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) $390.77 4.80% from no. 2
4 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $25.20 4.31% No change
5 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve $147.92 3.90% from no. 7
6 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $332.15 3.45% from no. 5
7 Replace Ignition Coil(s) $220.21 3.39% from no. 6
8 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Solenoid $151.38 3.21% No change
9 Replace Fuel Injector(s) $492.44 2.90% No change
10 Replace Thermostat $246.44 2.38% No change

(Ten most common vehicle repairs in the Midwestern U.S. are based on 3,493,423  repairs in 2018 in IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD and WI. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Rank Vehicle Repair Total Average Repair Cost (Parts & Labor) % 2018 Repairs Change in NE Rank Since 2017
1 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $262.71 6.77% No change
2 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,304.67 5.60% No change
3 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $24.04 5.28% from no. 4
4 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) $384.77 4.92% from no. 3
5 Replace Ignition Coil(s) $221.08 3.88% from no. 6
6 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $349.56 3.81% from no. 5
7 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve $153.30 3.78% No change
8 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Solenoid $153.37 2.90% No change
9 Replace Fuel Injector(s) $468.31 2.31% No change
10 Replace Thermostat $255.49 2.22% New to list

(Ten most common vehicle repairs in the Northeastern U.S. are based on  1,731,657 repairs in 2018 in CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI and VT. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Rank Vehicle Repair Total Average Repair Cost (Parts & Labor) % 2018 Repairs Change in Southern U.S. Rank Since 2017
1 Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) $391.56 6.00% from no. 2
2 Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S) $246.09 5.63% from no. 1
3 Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new OE Catalytic Converter(s) $1,354.79 5.18% No change
4 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $25.41 4.15% No change
5 Replace Ignition Coil(s) $218.54 3.95% from no. 6
6 Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor $340.12 3.79% from no. 5
7 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Control Valve $148.57 3.43% No change
8 Replace Fuel Injector(s) $461.88 2.81% from no. 9
9 Replace Evaporative Emissions (EVAP) Purge Solenoid $155.71 2.56% from no. 8
10 Replace Thermostat $241.58 2.39% No change

(Ten most common vehicle repairs in the Southern U.S. are based on 4,604,435 repairs in 2018 in AL, AR, DC, DE, FL,GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC,  OK, TN, VA, SC, TX and WV. This data applies to roughly 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs on the road in the U.S. – foreign and domestic. Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

2018’s repair costs…

Year Labor Parts Total Avg. Repair Cost
2018 $157.04 $223.81 $380.85
2017 $141.16 $216.29 $357.45
2016 $162.46 $235.41 $397.87
2015 $155.15 $232.16 $387.31
2014 $161.61 $228.77 $390.38
2013 $157.23 $235.26 $392.49
2012 $138.96 $228.88 $367.84
2011 $118.61 $215.32 $333.93
2010 $143.61 $212.44 $356.05
2009 $138.37 $221.13 $359.50

(Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

Region % Difference 2017 average repair cost 2018 average repair cost
South + 7.8% $357.71 $385.46
West + 8.0% $358.05 $386.78
Midwest + 1.0% $361.11 $366.31
Northeast + 4.9% $362.17 $379.76

(Source: CarMD® Vehicle Health Index™)

The most expensive repair in the CarMD database in 2018 was “replace engine” ($7,150). This repair is indicative of the fact that cars are being made to outlast parts such as their engine. The good news is that most expensive repairs remain extremely rare in terms of %age of occurrence. The five most expensive repairs combined only account for less than one half of one % (0.41%) of all repairs seen by CarMD’s network of thousands of certified technicians last year.

The least expensive repair is “Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary” at an average cost of $25. The ten least expensive repairs account for roughly 5 % of all needed repairs.

Rank Vehicle Repair Most Expensive Repair Cost
(Parts & Labor)
1 Replace Engine $7,150
2 Replace Electronic Power Steering (EPS) Control Unit $5,201
3 Replace Transmission Assembly and Reprogram Electronic Control Module (ECM) $5,130
4 Replace Transmission and Torque Converter $5,051
5 Replace Audio and Visual (AV) Control Unit $4,293
6 Replace Transmission Case and Torque Converter $4,245
7 Replace Hybrid Battery and Reprogram Engine Control Module (ECM) $4,149
8 Replace Compuvalve Module $4,105
9 Replace Transmission Assembly $3,905
10 Replace Hybrid Battery $3,798
Rank Vehicle Repair Total Repair Cost
(Parts & Labor)
1 Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary $25
2 Replace Fuel Tank Gas Cap $28
3 Replace Electronic Throttle Control System (ETCS) Fuse $47
4 Perform DTC Confirmation Procedure $51
5 Replace Electronic Engine Control (EEC) Fuse $52
6 Inspect for correct air filter and air box is securely latch properly $57
7 Clean Ground Wire $59
8 Replace Oil Cap $66
9 Perform Steering Angle Sensor Calibration Procedure $67
10 Inspect for Faulty Vacuum Hose(s) between EGR Valve and BPT Valve and Repair as Necessary $68

(Ten most/least expensive repairs are based on 11,418,533 repairs recommended and input into the CarMD database by the company’s team of factory trained repair professionals in 2018. This data is for model year 1996 to 2018 OBD2 cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs in the U.S. – foreign and domestic.  Source: CarMD.com Corp.)

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derek chenn2019 CarMD Vehicle Health Index