New Jersey Most Expensive State for Car Repairs

June 12, 2013—New Jersey is the most expense state and Vermont is the cheapest when it comes to car repairs, according to a new report.

The average total diagnostics-and-repair bill in New Jersey was $393, according to the report, which analyzed more than 160,000 check engine-related repairs made on model year 1996-2012 vehicles in 2012.

Rounding out the top five most expensive U.S. states for auto repair were District of Columbia, California, North Carolina and Maryland.

Overall, repair costs across the nation related to a vehicles’ check-engine lights averaged $367.84, a 10 percent increase.

CarMD said the vehicle owners’ procrastination in having repairs made as a major reason for the increases as delayed repairs become more expensive as problems worsen.

The report also cited Hurricane Sandy as the reason why New Jersey car owners doubled the number of trips they made for repairs, initially for flood damage. New Jersey drivers saw a nearly 21 percent increase in labor rates and a roughly 8 percent increase in parts costs.

The most affordable state for auto repair is Vermont, at $269.72. The state also had the lowest labor and parts costs, at $153.82 and $115.90, respectively.

The District of Columbia saw the largest overall increase in repair costs, up 20 percent, while Wyoming had the greatest drop in average repair costs, down 17 percent.

Ratchet and Wrench, June 2013



The Onion Problem

You take your car to your garage and, after being charged a hefty sum for diagnosis, you are told it is likely that your doohickey is shorted out. You need your car so you agree to replace the doohickey. After a few hours or, longer in some cases, you pick up your car. You drive it for a while and the same symptom is still present! Your mechanic must be a hack or a thief, right?

Not necessarily. Cars are complex systems, with each part connected in some way to every other part.  More often than we would like, problems are like onions, with the first layer needing to be pealed away before we can assess the second, or sometimes the third layer. . It’s not that what you have had done didn’t need doing but that the deeper problem –or problems – can’t be diagnosed until the upper layer is dealt with. It is not unusual for several components of one system to fail at the same time, or around the same time. All are the same age and mileage and have been through the same workout as the other components in the system. Also, when one begins to fail, it puts stress on the other parts of the system so that there can be a domino effect. It is not surprising that they would all fail together.

If possible, your shop has warned you this might be the case, but often we have no way of knowing ahead of time. And there is nothing we hate more than having you come back for another expensive repair soon after leaving the shop. We know you are upset and feeling distrustful. But hopefully you have built up a relationship with your shop. Just as you put your faith in us, we also put our faith in you. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is when a customer who has been through one of these onion problems understands and comes back without resentment. . When that happens they earn our loyalty like very few other customers do. We know that they trust us and we will do most anything to keep that trust. It is incredibly valuable to us.