There is no argument that today’s cars, trucks and SUVs are much better built and engineered than at any point since the days of the horseless carriage. The fact is, modern cars last much longer than, say, the 1960s, when 100,000 miles registration was roughly the limit for most models. Today’s cars require less maintenance but can easily last well over 200,000 miles.
In fact, the average age of all vehicles on the road today is 12.2 years. According to a study by S&P Global Mobility, this has increased by almost two percent over the past 12 months. That means the most typical vehicle you’ll see on the road today is probably a 2010 Ford F-Series pickup truck (the best-selling vehicle in the US for the past 30 years).
And it’s good that cars have become long-distance runners, as the ongoing supply and demand imbalance has meant prices have skyrocketed in both the new and used car markets, leaving many households with no other choice. than keeping a proven vehicle running. but at what cost?
According to CarMD.com’s recent annual Vehicle Health Index report, the average “Check Engine Light”-related repair fee in the United States last year was $392.52. This includes $249.22 for parts and $143.35 for labor. A decade earlier it was $333.93.
The typical service bill is the highest in the western states, averaging $406.79, and the cheapest in the Midwest, at $366.35. Parts costs rose six percent last year, while labor costs fell half a percent, the latter partly due to more motorists doing their own work to save money. It has been determined that 2007 model year vehicles are the most likely to suffer from a Check Engine problem.
According to the report, the most common test engine repair required in 2021 was to replace a vehicle’s catalytic converter (a key emission control component), which cost an average of $1,356. They’re built to last the distance, with a federally mandated 80,000-mile warranty, but can fail if other mechanical issues, like driving with a faulty oxygen sensor or ignition coil, are ignored. There is also a rise in catalytic converter thefts, largely due to the value of the precious metals that make them work. The index revealed that 2005-2008 model year vehicles were most likely on the road in 2021 to require a new converter.
Although the Check Engine Light can strike fear into the hearts of cash-strapped motorists if left lit, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a serious and seriously costly problem. It could be something as simple as a loose or broken gas cap that can cost nothing to tighten, up to a few bucks to screw on a new one. The type and cost of a Check Engine Light repair is highly dependent on the age, driving conditions and upkeep of the vehicle.
It is also a question of whether the owner addresses such problems in a timely manner or not. Unfortunately, too many motorists tend to ignore the warning light when the vehicle is otherwise operating normally. In the short term, this could result in better fuel economy as the engine’s electronics help compensate for what might otherwise require a minor repair (like a bad spark plug). In the long run, neglect could eventually lead to a much more costly repair. Of course, the prudent course of action if the light stays on is to make an appointment to take the vehicle to a technician to have the onboard diagnostics checked to determine what is at fault.
These are the most common Check Engine diseases and their average repair costs, as reported by CarMD.com’s Vehicle Health Index. The 2021 Index is based on repairs to more than 17 million in-use vehicles reported and validated to CarMD’s network from January 1 through December 31, 2020. We should note that costs are high, particularly in these inflationary times. It can be expected that the identified costs will continue to increase in the future. And as always, they vary based on local wage rates and parts availability.
- catalyst; average repair cost: $1,356
- replace oxygen sensor; average repair cost: $243
- Replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s); average repair cost: $387
- replace mass air flow meter; average repair cost: $319
- Tighten or replace fuel cap; average repair cost: $0 to tighten, $25 to replace
- Replace ignition coil(s); average repair cost: $214
- Replace injector(s); average repair cost: $420
- Replace EVAP Purge Control Valve; average repair cost: $141
- replace thermostat; average repair cost: $235
- Replace EVAP Purge Solenoid; average repair cost: $147
The complete CarMD Vehicle Health Index 2022 can be found here.