CarMD Ranks Vehicle Repairs By Frequency and Cost

April 24, 2019

U.S. vehicle owners paid 6.5% more on average to repair check engine light issues in 2018 than in 2017, according to the latest CarMD Vehicle Health Index (VHI).

The 10 Most Expensive Check Engine-Related Vehicle Repairs (Parts and Labor) in the U.S. – 2018

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

The annual report from Corp. provides an overview of information related to check engine-related car repairs, costs and trends.

More insights from the 2019 VHI:

  • The report found that in 2018 – for the first time since CarMD has reported these rankings – there was a tie in the no. 1 most commonly diagnosed 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 five most common problems found to trigger the check engine light after ignition coil and spark plug, and O2 sensor were 3) catalytic converter, 4) loose or damaged fuel cap and 5) ignition coil (without sparkplug replacement).
  • There was a slight increase in ignition coil issues, while slightly fewer mass air flow sensor, oxygen sensor and EVAP purge control valve replacements in 2018. Spark plugs and ignition coils work together to help the engine start, and keep running. Faulty spark plugs can trigger ignition coil failure, which is why they are often replaced simultaneously. High underhood temperatures and age can also cause them to fail.
  • CarMD found that the average cost to repair a check engine problem in the U.S. in 2018 was $381 including parts ($224) and labor ($157), representing an 11% increase in labor and 3.5% uptick in parts costs.
  • Repair costs were up across all regions of the U.S., with the West seeing the largest increase (8%) and Midwest only seeing a 1% increase.
  • 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 common repair in the West, Midwest and Northeast was “replace oxygen sensor(s)” while it was “replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s)” in the South.

“Several factors impact the type and cost of repairs, including vehicle age, driving conditions, upkeep and how often a driver addresses a dashboard warning light, which can snowball from a single faulty spark plug into the need for additional repairs if ignored,” says Ieon Chen, CEO of CarMD.

“By monitoring industry trends we hope to educate drivers about the importance of repair and maintenance. Likewise, as our data reports an increase or decrease in a particular repair, automotive service professionals can adjust their customer communication and parts inventory accordingly.”

The 2019 CarMD Vehicle Health Index analyzed repairs needed on 7,167,314 in-use vehicles reported to and validated by CarMD’s network from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018.

More information is available at the CarMD website.

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Corp. is a provider of automotive diagnostic business solutions, digital automotive aftermarket platform services and vehicle data licensing. CarMD specializes in automotive technology solutions that leverage and empower the capabilities of the on-board diagnostics (OBD) port. Published tri-annually, the CarMD Vehicle Health Index reports on automotive repair and maintenance trends.