The Most and Least Expensive Cities for Car Repairs

Henry Hoenig
Updated on Sep 12, 2022 · 3 min read
Car repair is an often painful fact of life — one that’s growing more burdensome by the year. The average American household spent $975 on maintenance and repairs in 2021. That’s up 9.9% from 2019, the last year before COVID-19 struck. Over the past five years, maintenance and repair costs have risen 23% nationally, faster than prices for cars and car parts, and faster than overall inflation. 
It turns out that those rising repair costs are unequally distributed. Residents of some cities and states pay far more than others. We looked at the data to find out who pays the most. Here’s what we found:

Key Insights

  • Phoenix, Tucson and Birmingham are the three cities where it is most expensive to get your car repaired, based on the costs for certain repairs on both a 2013 Honda Civic and a 2015 Ford F-150, according to data compiled by Jerry.
  • Stone Mountain (Georgia), Milwaukee and Dallas ranked as the least expensive cities for the same repairs. 
  • San Francisco, Lancaster (just north of Los Angeles), and Peoria, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, ranked as the three cities with the highest labor rates. 
  • Boston, neighboring Cambridge, and Hamilton, Ohio, near Cincinnati, ranked as the three cities with the lowest labor rates.
Most Expensive Cities for Car Repairs
Tucson, AZ
Birmingham, AL
Phoenix, AZ
Peoria, AZ (Phoenix area)
Virginia Beach, VA
Portland, OR
Golden, CO (Denver area)
Hartford, CT
Hamilton, OH (Cincinnati area)
Minneapolis, MN
Buffalo, NY
Residents in the 10 cities where it is most expensive to replace a Honda Civic starter motor pay an average of $478.43 for parts and labor. That’s 23% more than the residents of the 10 least expensive cities for that job. Those cities include Boston, Dallas and Atlanta.
The average price Phoenix repair shops charge for a Honda Civic starter motor (part only) is $326, 43% higher than the average price for the 10 least expensive cities, which include Charlotte, Memphis and Milwaukee.
Portland, Oregon, ranked as the most expensive city in which to replace a Ford F-150 alternator. The average cost in Portland ($646) was 42% higher than in the 10 cities at the bottom of the list, which included Indianapolis, Memphis, and Stone Mountain (Georgia).
Nine of the 10 most expensive cities to replace an F-150 alternator show up in the list of 10 most expensive cities for that part alone (not including installation).
Chicago, Las Vegas and Dallas all rank among the 10 least expensive cities for car repair.
Least Expensive Cities for Car Repairs
Stone Mountain, GA
Milwaukee, WI
Dallas, TX
Albuquerque, NM
Memphis, TN
Charlotte, NC
Chicago, IL
Auburn, WA
Las Vegas, NV
Riverside, CA

Methodology

We collected data from repair shops in 97 cities on hourly labor rates, the prices of parts (alternators and starter motors for both a 2015 Ford F-150 V6 and a 2013 Honda Civic 4-door sedan), and estimates for replacing each of those parts in each vehicle. 
We then calculated the 10 most expensive cities in the following categories: flat labor rates, the price shops charged for alternators and starter motors (parts only) for each vehicle, and the cost of replacing each part in each vehicle (parts and labor). 
To determine the most expensive cities overall, we counted the number of times each city appeared on one of the lists of most expensive cities for the repair jobs and parts listed above. To determine the least expensive, we counted the number of times each city appeared in the bottom 10 of the same lists.
Note: Phoenix and a number of other cities appeared on the individual lists of most expensive cities the same number of times (6). In determining that Phoenix ranked among the top three, we counted appearances by Peoria, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, as an appearance by Phoenix.

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