The dreaded check engine light turns on. What’s the cause? There’s a good chance it’s one of these problems.
CarMD.com took a look at common car problems with its 2013 CarMD Vehicle Health Index, which showed that car repair costs increased in 2012 compared with the previous year. The Northeast was hit the worst, with costs going up 11.56 percent.
Take a look at the top 10 problems that cause the check engine light to turn on.
1. Replace oxygen sensor
This is the oxygen sensor’s third consecutive year in the number-one spot. About 8.3 percent of check engine light repairs are related to this car part.
Average repair cost 2012: $293.88
Average repair cost 2011: $264.39
2. Tighten or replace fuel cap
Many dealers offer this diagnosis as a free service, according to CarMD. On top of triggering the check engine light, a missing or damaged gas cap can hurt gas mileage.
Average repair cost 2012: 10 cents
Average repair cost 2011: $1
3. Replace catalytic converter
This costly problem accounts for 6.2 percent of repairs. Catalytic converter failures are usually related to other damaged parts, according to CarMD.
Average repair cost 2012: $1,101.44
Average repair cost 2011: $1,028.53
4. Replace ignition coil(s)
The ignition coil helps the car keep running and can fail as a result of high underhood temperatures, faulty spark plugs, or age. They account for 5.2 percent of repairs.
Average repair cost 2012: $316.58
Average repair cost 2011: $296.87
5. Replace spark plug(s) and spark plug wire(s)
A spark plug failure can cause a misfire, greatly hurt gas mileage, and lead to significant catalytic converter damage, according to CarMD.
Average repair cost 2012: $342.55
Average repair cost 2011: $314.67
6. Replace Mass Air Flow sensor
The part is important to fuel economy and accounts for 0.4 percent of repairs. It controls how much air enters the car’s engine.
Average repair cost 2012: $410.17
Average repair cost 2011: $396.91
7. Remove aftermarket alarm
This repair cost covers the labor involved in removing the aftermarket alarm. CarMD suggests having qualified technicians handle this kind of part.
Average repair cost 2012: $97.90
Average repair cost 2011: $82
8. Inspect for faulty vacuum hose(s) at EVAP system and repair as needed
This problem accounted for 2.3 percent of last year’s repairs. Leaking hose and fittings can lead to EVAP system problems, CarMD said.
Average repair cost 2012: $107.32
Average repair cost 2011: $95.83
9. Replace exhaust gas recirculation valve and clean EGR ports
“EGR helps your car run efficiently and helps control emissions,’’ CarMD said. Problems with the system can cause low fuel economy, misfire, engine hesitation, and rough idling.
Average repair cost 2012: $325.95
Average repair cost 2011: $321.11
10. Inspect battery and charging system and repair/replace as necessary
This problem is new to CarMD’s top 10 list, ranking 16 last year. Better voltage monitoring systems may have led to that jump, according to CarMD.
Average repair cost 2012: $100.63
Average repair cost 2011: $87.74