CarMD annually publishes a list of state-by-state costs for average repairs to a vehicle. It’s a handy list because it gives you a sense of where car repair costs are headed and what the most common problems are going to be.
Obviously, you won’t be able to move your car around when it comes time to get it repaired. For example, when you live in Nevada you can’t very well get your catalytic converter fixed in Michigan, even if the cost is 13 percent less.
When vehicles have check engine light problems, the leading culprit is a faulty oxygen sensor, the most frequently diagnosed repair in 25 states, according to the CarMD research of more than 1 million repairs in 2015 on vehicles with model years from 1996 to 2015.
The same repair can vary in cost from state to state. To replace a car’s ignition coil(s) and spark (plugs), the average cost is $435 in Washington, while in Vermont it costs 16 percent less at $364 on average. A catalytic converter replacement costs on average $1,226 in New Hampshire, but only $891 in Hawaii. And the average cost for parts and labor to replace a car’s oxygen sensor(s) in 2015 varied from a low of $216 in Wyoming to a high of $290 in Delaware.
Properly operating oxygen sensors are important to a car’s performance and to the environment; if left unfixed, a faulty O2 sensor can negatively impact a car’s fuel economy and cause damage to other parts of the car.
“The technicians at CarMD can’t stress enough how important it is to address check engine light problems early,” said David Rich, CarMD’s technical director, in a statement. “Many drivers ignore O2 sensor problems because it seems like their car is driving just fine, but it is really guzzling a lot of extra gasoline and will likely end up causing ancillary problems that drive up car repair costs down the road.”
In Nevada, though, based on CarMD research, the top repair issue isn’t oxygen sensors. Instead, it’s catalytic converters. It’s a problem shared with the neighboring states of Arizona and Utah as well, but not California, which has oxygen sensors topping its list.
Unfortunately, that is a much more expensive repair. Replacing a catalytic converter, on average, is going to cost you at least $1,100.
The average check engine light repair in Nevada is just a tick over $400. That includes $162.42 for labor and $237.76 for parts. That ranks Nevada 21st in the United States, up from 41st in 2014. By the way, the difference between 21st and 41st this year is about $28.
Does that mean every check engine light repair is going to cost you $400? No, because that is an average. Sometimes the cost is going to be minimal because it could be as simple as putting your fuel cap on correctly. That’s a free repair.
A good rule of thumb, though, is not to ignore the check engine light when it comes on (or cover it with tape). The longer you go, the more it will cost you to repair it.