For the first time in six years, automotive repair costs have gone up. As you might expect, the slumping economy was responsible for repair costs staying so low during the last several years, but that seems to be over now — at least according to the 2013 Vehicle Health Index report just released by CarMD.com.
According to the report, 2012 labor rates went up 17 percent on average while parts costs were higher by 6 percent; the average repair cost was $367. The VHI report considers more than 161,000 repairs across the country and concludes that people are holding onto their vehicles longer and trying to stretch every dollar; unfortunately, for many of us, that means ignoring the check-engine light.
The report notes that the top five issues that trigger the check engine light — faulty oxygen sensors, loose gas caps, catalytic converters, ignition coils, and spark plugs and wires — can have a detrimental effect on fuel economy and cost more money to repair the longer one drives with the trouble code lit.
CarMD.com is worth checking out because it offers a free service that provides all the recalls and technical service bulletins released about your truck as well as offering a grade rating based on how well you've followed scheduled maintenance recommendations. Of course, the website will want to sell you its plug-in diagnostic tool, but you can get all the information about your vehicle and repair trends for free.
The best advice we can offer is to find a good, local mechanic who has the specialty tools necessary to diagnose most of your truck's problems. Just don't be surprised if his (or her) prices are starting to sneak up a bit.
To read the report, click here.