These are the 5 most common check engine light car repairs in 2021 according to CarMD

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When a check engine light comes on, it means that the vehicle’s computer has detected a problem affecting emissions controls or drivability. These issues may be minor, but can still harm the environment or affect the fuel economy of the vehicle. However, it is also possible that the problems are serious and will lead to expensive repairs or maintenance if not fixed. This leads to a question: What are the most common check engine light repairs?

CarMD reveals the most common check engine light repairs

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CarMD collects automotive repair data and releases its Vehicle Health Index report on the most common check engine light related problems, repairs and associated costs. Using this report, let’s take a look at the five most common problems in 2021, including cost to repair and frequency of occurrence.

5. Inspect loose fuel tank cap – tighten or replace if necessary

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The fifth most common check engine light problem is a loose fuel cap, which CarMD says occurs 4.28 percent of the time. It sounds trivial, but a loose gas cap will not only allow contaminants to enter the fuel system, but also dangerous fuel vapors to escape from the vehicle. These fumes are harmful to the environment and can cause health problems.

The solution to this problem is to tighten the gas cap or replace it if it has a bad seal. The average cost for this repair was $24.77.

4. Replace the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor

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The Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor ranks fourth on CarMD’s list of the most common check engine light car repairs. The mass airflow sensor measures the volume of air entering the engine intake and adjusts the fuel flow to achieve the correct air-fuel ratio. When the MAF sensor malfunctions, the air-fuel ratio becomes too lean or too rich, causing fuel economy and drivability issues.

The average cost for a MAF sensor repair was $319.02, which covered the part and labor. According to CarMD, this problem occurred 4.53% of the time.

3. Replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s).

At number three on CarMD’s list are problems with ignition coils and/or spark plugs, which occurred 4.92% of the time. When this issue occurs, the vehicle’s engine may run rough or misfire, resulting in performance and drivability issues.

The solution for an ignition coil or spark plug problem is to replace the faulty part(s) when the diagnostic trouble codes indicate multiple misfires. The average cost for this car repair was $387.47, but it could be higher or lower depending on the number of ignition coils or spark plugs replaced.

2. Replace oxygen sensor(s)

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Oxygen sensor problems are the second most common check engine light car repair from CarMD. Most vehicles are equipped with two to three oxygen sensors that measure the volume of oxygen in the exhaust gases. This lets the engine management system know if the engine is running too rich or too lean.

A bad oxygen sensor caused 5.58% of problems and cost an average of $242.87 for parts and labor.

1. Replace catalytic converters

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The catalytic converter is number one on the list for repair frequency and cost. A leaking, clogged, or stolen catalytic converter costs an average of $1,355.78 and has occurred 5.78% of the time.

A faulty or missing catalytic converter can cause a range of problems, from increased pollution to poor engine performance. Catalytic converters use precious metals like platinum, palladium, or rhodium to burn off excess hydrocarbons, which is why catalytic converter theft is on the rise, as reported by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

How CarMD Got Its Data for the Most Common Check Engine Light Car Repairs

To provide this information, CarMD maintains a database with over 17 million recommended repairs in 2021 for vehicles from model years 1996 through 2021. Their list of the 10 most common vehicle repairs applies to over 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans, SUVs and hybrids on the road in the United States.

Your Car’s Check Engine Light Is No Joke

There’s an old joke about a driver who sees his check engine light come on, so he takes it to a mechanic. The mechanic opens the hood, looks and says, “Yes, the engine is still there.” And then bills the customer $200.

The reality is that a check engine light is no joke. The problem could be simple and inexpensive to fix, or it could be something serious. As with the five most common check engine light car repairs, it is important to have the problem checked and repaired before it becomes a bigger problem.

To provide this information, CarMD maintains a database with over 17 million recommended repairs in 2021 for vehicles from model years 1996 through 2021. Their list of the 10 most common vehicle repairs applies to over 85% of cars, light trucks, minivans, SUVs and hybrids on the road in the United States.

RELATED: My car’s Check Engine Light is on, what should I do next?


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