HIGH AUTO REPAIR AND PARTS REPLACEMENT COSTS
Your car is getting more expensive to fix, at least according to the 2013 CarMD Vehicle Health Index. The study found that for the first time in six years, the average repair cost rose 10 percent to $367.84 on 1996 to 2012 model year vehicles. Replacement part prices went up six percent in 2012, while labor charges rose 17 percent. CarMD says that the Northeast region saw the largest increase, with the cost of repairs rising by 11.56 percent last year.
Among the reasons is that our cars are getting older. The average car on America's roads is now over 11 years old. Last year's record heat may also have been a factor, according to CarMD. Heat places a strain on cooling systems, batteries, fluids and transmissions.
The costs associated with maintaining a vehicle had the single largest percentage increase from 2012 to 2013, growing by 11.26 percent to 4.97 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. AAA’s estimates are based upon the cost to maintain a vehicle and perform needed repairs for five years and 75,000 miles including labor expenses, replacement part prices and the purchase of an extended warranty policy. Driving the increase in maintenance costs is significant increases in labor and part costs for some models and a major increase in the price of extended warranty policies due to high loss ratios by underwriters.
Costly air bags, expensive electronics, and lightweight body materials are driving up the cost of fixing new cars. Not only do many more parts have to be replaced rather than repaired, but fewer and fewer body shops can afford the special equipment and training required to do the work."We're moving closer and closer to the disposable car," says Dan Bailey, an executive vice president at Carstar, the largest auto-body repair franchise in the United States.
One of the most common culprits for sending vehicle owners to the repair shop is the dreaded check-engine light. CarMD warns that the check-engine light may come on for something as simple as a loose gas cap, but regardless of its cause the alert should not go unchecked.
To meet fuel-economy requirements, automakers are using more lightweight parts. Magnesium, titanium, and carbonized plastic are among the rapidly expanding number of components found under the hood. As cars get more complicated, fewer skilled technicians to repair them. If today's cars are harder to repair, the skills needed to repair them are also harder to come by.