California car repair costs among highest in nation, analysis finds

Oscar Castaneda repairs cars at property in the Mojave Desert. California ranked second only to New Jersey among states in the cost of the average car repair, according to CarMD.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

California remains one of the nation’s three most expensive states for car repairs, according to a new analysis by CarMD.

The finding is based on what it costs, on average, when a driver’s “check engine” warning light appears.

CarMD’s state-by-state ranking of repair costs was based on detailed analysis of 161,350 repairs on model year 1996 to 2012 vehicles last year

Damage from Hurricane Sandy might have helped New Jersey rank highest at an average cost of $392.99.

California ranked second among states in 2012. The average cost for check engine-related car repairs in California last year was $390.37, up 6% from the previous year.


The least expensive state was Vermont, with an average repair cost of $269.72.

Kristin Brocoff, spokeswoman for CarMD, said the firm is careful about trying not to suggest too many reasons behind the averages.

But Brocoff did say that higher real estate costs for repair shops and dealerships in California were probably a factor, as was Californians’ preference for high-tech cars.

“There are a higher percentage of hybrids on the road in California,” Brocoff said, adding “that requires a lot of serious training for technicians to be able to work on those very high-tech vehicles.”

CarMD doesn’t speculate on road conditions in the various states, but that might also have been a factor.

Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers reported that 68% of California’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

Brocoff added that long commutes and the California lifestyle also meant that drivers were in their cars more often.

“Californians live in their cars. They have longer commutes, more wear and tear on their cars,” Brocoff said. “They are likely to have more miles on their vehicles.”


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