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Vehicle maintenance is a fact of life that’s not particularly a joy to deal with. As cars become more high-tech, the cost of services, replacement parts, and labor becomes more expensive. Regardless, a few hundred bucks here and there can help keep a car on the road for longer and save you from having to gulp your breath as you sign on the line beside an eye-watering MSRP. While some car repairs are always going to be pricey, there is a way you can mitigate the financial effects. 

Given America’s 50 states and one district, prices for parts and labor can be as diverse as regional gas station food. CarMD, a site that compiles and maintains the automotive industry’s largest and most comprehensive database of check engine light-related problems and their corresponding repairs, has released its figures for the average cost of car repairs for 2021. They crunched the numbers on where in the U.S. you’ll experience the most expensive and cheapest repairs for your vehicle.

Five states with the most expensive car repair costs

A person performing a repair on a vehicle.
Car repair | Getty Images

1. Connecticut: $418.37

2. Colorado: $417.14

3. California: $415.66

4. District of Columbia: $411.00

5. Georgia: $407.71

According to CarMD, the most common repair in the top five states was a catalytic converter replacement. The parts are costly, with rare earth metals in the exhaust system component. Also, newer cars have more sensors to monitor vehicle vitals and emission standards, which are all tediously sensitive. 

Five states with the cheapest car repair costs 

47. Wisconsin: $361.11

48. Iowa: $359.96

49. Michigan: $356.29

50. Ohio: $353.76

51. Maine: $349.25

Interestingly enough, the bottom five states are all located in the Midwest. Although they were the cheapest to seek car repairs, the most common was the same as the five most expensive states. Catalytic converters don’t often fail unless something else has gone awry. For example, faulty ignition coils, spark plug timing, and oxygen sensors can be the culprit that causes failure.  

“Several factors contribute to a state’s average car repair costs, including vehicle year, make and model, the repair difficulty and associated parts cost,” said CarMD Technical Director David Rich in a press release. Nevertheless, some states have seen their rank on CarMD’s list remain constant for multiple years.  

Highest and lowest labor costs in the U.S.

Although Vermont didn’t make the cut for the five states with the cheapest repairs, the Granite State did achieve its sixth consecutive year with the lowest average labor cost at $127.15. CarMD claims the most common reason for the check engine light on Vermont vehicles is to tighten or replace a loose or missing gas cap.

Mississippi may have a low cost of living, but that doesn’t translate into cheap trips to your local mechanic. With drivers paying $151.67 on average for labor, it was the highest in the nation for labor costs in 2021, their fourth year in a row. Reportedly, the most common repair was replacing ignition coils and spark plugs, two culprits behind pesky catalytic converter replacements.

Highest and lowest parts costs in the U.S.

It may come as an obvious fact with the auto manufacturers based in and around Detriot, but drivers in Michigan paid the least on average for car parts at just $211.26. Yet, CarMD expresses a five percent increase from the previous year.  

In 2021, drivers in Connecticut paid the most in the country on average for parts at $281.53. Therefore, labor is roughly 25 percent higher in the Constitution State than in the Great Lakes State.

How can you lower your car repair bill?

The COVID-19 pandemic threw the global supply chain into chaos, thus causing an increase in the cost of car parts. USA Today reports that the average age of a vehicle in the U.S. is at an all-time high of 12.2 years old, so those parts need replacement soon on many. Although it will depend on the type of vehicle and repair needed, there are a few options to shave a few dollars off the end cost.

For more minor repairs like alternators, brake pads, spark plugs, belts, hoses, and other issues that can be addressed without needing specialist tools, don’t hesitate to give it a whirl. The pandemic may have mandated remain-at-home protocols, but many began working on their own cars and gave the Internet tons of great DIY repair videos.

For larger repairs like axles, cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds, and transmissions, there is much more time involved in these ventures. Typically, original equipment (OE) parts are expensive. Therefore, it could be beneficial to spend time locating a parts car, going to a junkyard, or finding refurbished parts online to lessen your cost upfront and spend money on a professional who has the tools for extensive repairs and understands how to do them.