The U.S. States and Cities that Pay the Biggest Premium for Car Repairs

Just when you think you’re coasting, a knock or a breakdown can add significant costs to your monthly transportation budget.

And to add insult to injury, car repair costs have risen significantly in recent months — climbing 20% year-over-year, which is over six times the rate of inflation. Naturally, insurance rates have followed, rising 17% in the 12 months through May 2023. By December, the average repair bill in the U.S. reached $392.90, a leap of $100 in just five years.

The issue begins in the showroom: the rising price of new cars has encouraged Americans to buy used, if at all. Older cars require more repairs, which creates a supply-and-demand funnel at auto repair shops. Meanwhile, newer cars can require more drastic surgery after a crash due to the complexity of their safety features and sophisticated systems that require specialized attention.

But these aren’t the only variables affecting car repair costs. Geography is another factor. In fact, you could more than cancel out these recent price rises by taking your damaged vehicle from one of America’s most expensive cities for repair to one of its cheapest. So, NetCredit has calculated the price premium for car repairs in every state and major U.S. city.

What We Did

We used RepairPal’s estimator tool to get local cost estimates for ten common car repairs from around the U.S., using the 2021 Honda Accord as our sample car. We then calculated the average price for each repair overall and in each state and city. To rank the cities and states, we compared the price premium (%) quoted for repairs in each place compared to the national average.

Key Findings

  • San Francisco is the U.S. city with the highest premium for car repairs compared to the national average (+21.92%).
  • Amarillo, Texas, is the city with the lowest premium for car repairs (-19.54%).
  • California is the state with the highest premium for car repairs (+12.17%).
  • West Virginia is the state with the lowest premium for car repairs (-18.97%).

The U.S. States That Pay the Highest and Lowest Premiums for Car Repairs

We found 16 states that pay above average for car repairs and 34 that pay below average.

California and Hawaii are significantly more expensive than elsewhere, with repairs costing +12.17% and +11.89% more than the national average, respectively. Hot, dry air and airborne dust cause more damage to vehicles and lead people to drive rather than take public transit, leading to greater wear and tear on vehicles.

Infographic of the states that pay the highest and lowest premiums for car repairs.

Meanwhile, Vermont (-18.49%), Wyoming (-18.82%) and West Virginia (-18.97%) are the states with the lowest car repair costs. A new Vermont law requires the Commissioner of Financial Regulation to investigate local parts, repair and insurance prices to maintain the balance between these costs.

“The problem is that when you have damage, and you go to an auto body shop, what the insurance company covers and what the actual costs are getting farther and farther apart,” said Sen. Ann Cummings. “The actual labor costs frequently are not anywhere close to what the auto body shop has to pay to get good mechanics.”

The U.S. Cities That Pay the Highest and Lowest Premiums for Car Repairs

California cities dominate among those with the highest car repair premiums. Six of the top ten most expensive, including the top three, are in California. San Francisco and San Jose are among America’s leading cities for electric vehicle (EV) adoption and amenability, but unfortunately, the repair of EV vehicles can be far more costly than that of combustibles.

“People are used to hearing that EVs have fewer parts than a combustion vehicle, but that is not the case in collision repair,” Marc Fredman, chief strategy officer for CCC Intelligent Solutions, told WSJ.

Infographic listing the U.S. cities paying the highest and lowest for car repairs.

Two Texan cities — Amarillo (-19.54%) and Laredo (-19.30%) — are near-tied as the cities with the lowest premiums for car repairs. Texas, as a whole, is the state where car repair costs are closest to the national average. This is despite the Senate pushing a bill to oblige mechanics to use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts for certain repairs, potentially driving up local maintenance and insurance costs.

How Much Los Angeles Motorists Pay for Common Car Repairs vs. the National Average

In stark contrast to New York City, eight of the ten repair jobs with the highest premiums in LA cost more than 10% over the national average. And while car repair costs overall come at a +20.75% premium in LA, three jobs cost over one-third more than the national average: Tire Balancing (+48.23%), AC Recharge and Leak Inspection (+38.16%) and Water Pump Replacement (+34.91%). In the case of tire balancing, that means an extra $24 over the national average of $50.

Infographic comparing the cost of car repairs in Los Angeles versus the national average.

Los Angeles is a car-oriented city, with 87.8% of residents owning cars to travel the extensive — though often congested — roadways. Some 79% of the city’s major roads and highways are in poor or mediocre condition, which can hasten the need for repair (and the depreciation) of vehicles and cause more profound levels of damage. In a city with the world’s sixth-highest cost of living, it all adds up to some serious maintenance bills; LA is the third most expensive U.S. city for car repairs.

How Much New York City Motorists Pay for Common Car Repairs vs. the National Average

The average mileage per year driven in the state of New York is 10,000; that means a 7,500-mile service every nine months. In New York City, that service costs $107, which is a reasonable 3.24% above the national average. Indeed, most repair jobs in New York City average out at less than 10% over the national average, making it one of the less costly cities on which we’ve focused.

Infographic comparing the cost of car repairs in New York City to the national average.

Perhaps the biggest shock for New York motorists is paying 9.34% over the average for Water Pump Replacement, pushing the price up by around $115 to $1,388. Thankfully, the pump will usually need replacing only once every 60,000-90,000 miles. But if your engine is overheating, your coolant levels are dropping fast or your engine is whining, it is vital to get your pump checked, as it can cause more severe engine damage if faulty.

How Much Miami Motorists Pay for Common Car Repairs vs the National Average

Miami is the sixth most expensive city to mend a car, with a premium of +13.80% across all jobs against the national average. Three repair tasks in Miami cost around a quarter or more over the national average. Tire Balancing (+32.20%), AC Recharge and Leak Inspection (+25.30%) and Water Pump Replacement (+23.13%) are the three most disproportionately priced jobs here.

Infographic comparing the cost of car repairs in Miami to the national average.

In fact, tire balancing carries the biggest premium in all five of the cities we’ve profiled. Since tire balancing is labor-intensive rather than parts-intensive, the disparities may be due to the wage levels in these cities. However, it is worth noting that different garages offer different deals on tire alignment — you may get a better deal from a small independent garage that knows your face, or from a chain that offers balancing as a loss leader to lure in customers — so shop around before you book a slot.

How Much Philadelphia Motorists Pay for Common Car Repairs vs. the National Average

Philadelphia benefits from the least substantial car repair premiums of the cities we’ve profiled. In fact, its tenth biggest premium is just +0.48%, pushing the cost of Door Mirror Replacement up by just $5 to $1003. Side mirrors are a good example of the extra maintenance costs associated with more modern cars: the small mirrors themselves are not costly in parts or labor, but their electronics push up the cost of both.

Infographic comparing the cost of car repairs in Philadelphia to the national average.

The common car repair with the highest premium in Philadelphia is Tire Balancing. This costs $54, or +7.16% over the national average. A recent investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer found that locals can often get a better price for small one-off jobs by ordering just for a specific task rather than paying for a maintenance package for which the pricing of various jobs may be inflated.

How Much San Francisco Motorists Pay for Common Car Repairs vs. the National Average

San Francisco has the biggest premiums on car repairs of any U.S. city, at +21.92% over the national average. And it has the biggest premium for any single task: it costs +50.23%, or $26 more than the national average, to get your tires balanced. If you notice uneven wear on your tires or strange vibrations in your vehicle, it could be a sign that your tires are not correctly balanced. This can be caused by heavy braking or impaired suspension — always a risk on those epic hills of San Francisco.

Infographic comparing the cost of car repairs in San Francisco to the national average.

AC Recharge and Leak Inspection carries a slightly lower, but more significant premium in San Francisco. It costs +40.37% over the national average, pushing the price up by over $200 to an average of $699. Unfortunately, it is a complex and potentially dangerous task that is best left to a professional; get it wrong, or leave it too long, and an AC system with leaks or low refrigerant levels can cause further costly damage to your car.

How to Save Money on Car Repairs

As our study reveals, car repair costs can vary significantly from city to city. However, it can also vary between local repair shops. While you can save a penny by shopping around, it is always a question of how much you can save versus the time you spend comparing prices. So, here are some other ways to save money on car repairs.

1. Choose a reputable mechanic.

A lot of savings can be made by watching out for false economies. One such false economy is choosing the cheapest repair shop available. Ask for recommendations, check online reviews and speak personally to potential mechanics to ensure their work will be reliable — even if it costs a bit more.

2. Stick with the same mechanic.

Once you find a mechanic you trust, stay with them. A shop that knows you’re a loyal customer is less likely to overcharge you and may even offer you free or discounted prices on minor work.

3. Use a free diagnosis service.

Some auto parts stores offer free check-ups and may even offer free repair advice. Obviously, they hope you’ll buy the parts they recommend from them, but either way, it will give you a better idea of what costs to expect — and whether it’s something you can deal with yourself.

4. Keep an emergency fund.

Maintenance costs an average of $792 per year, with additional costs for tire replacement. But you never know when those costs will hit — or when they’ll go over the average. Put a few dollars aside each month so you can pay cash when needed, or consider taking out a personal loan if needed like when unexpected costs arise.

5. Keep up with regular maintenance.

Skipping regular check-ups or letting minor damage go can be another false economy. Likewise, replaceables like coolant and antifreeze should not be left too long. You can find a good breakdown of what needs to be checked at different intervals here.

A car is an expensive way to get around and takes a huge toll on the environment. Opting to walk, ride a bicycle or take public transport when possible can help keep maintenance costs down while protecting your local environment. But since driving is a necessary evil some of the time, a smart approach to maintenance and repairs can save potentially hundreds of dollars per year — wherever it is that you drive.


To identify the U.S. States and Cities that Pay the Biggest Premium for Car Repairs, we analyzed the local cost estimates for 10 common car repairs from

We used a 2021 Honda Accord as a sample car to scrape the repairs price per city in the 258 most populated U.S. cities for 10 common car repairs (“Brake Pad Replacement,” “Water Pump Replacement,” “Spark Plug Replacement,” “Alternator Replacement,” “Starter Replacement,” “Door Mirror Replacement,” “Battery Replacement,” “AC Recharge and Leak Inspection,” “7,500-mile service,” “Tire Balancing”).

We then calculated the average price for each repair in each state and city, along with the national average price. Following that, we computed the price premium (%) quoted for repairs in each city and state compared to the national average.

This data analysis is correct as of December 2023.

Additional Sources

Iacurci, G. (2023). Car repair costs are up almost 20% over the past year. Here are 6 reasons why.
Taylor, M. (2023). Cost of living in San Francisco in 2023.
Bills, J. (2023). 19 cities with the world’s best public transport, according to locals.
NYCEDC. (2018). New Yorkers and Their Cars.
Inrix. (2023). Global Traffic Scorecard.
McCann, A. (2023). Best & Worst Cities to Drive in.
Spacer. (n.d.). San Francisco Monthly Parking.

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