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California among 5 states with highest average car repair bills

California, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and Arizona have the highest average car repair costs, a study by CarMD.com finds. These states are also home to half the nation's top driving destinations.

June 25, 2012|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
  • A CarMD.com study of drivers who pulled into repair shops because their vehicles' "check engine" lights were on found that that average cost of repairs in California in 2011 was $368, compared with U.S. average of $334. Above, cars drive southbound on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
A CarMD.com study of drivers who pulled into repair shops because their… (Justin Sullivan, Getty…)

The five states that are home to many of the top driving destinations in the U.S. also have the highest average car repair prices, according to a study by CarMD.com.

The study by the Irvine company found that Wyoming, Utah, California, Montana and Arizona, which are home to popular attractions including half the nation's national parks, have the highest costs.

CarMD, which sells automobile diagnostic systems, analyzed more than 160,000 repair bills given to drivers in 2011 who pulled into auto shops because the "check engine" light came on.

The average nationwide cost of repairs in that situation was $334 in 2011, down 6% from 2010, primarily because of a drop in labor costs, the study found.

But the average cost of those repairs were higher in Wyoming ($389), Utah ($379), California ($368), Montana ($364) and Arizona ($363), according to the study.

Why? The study did not reach a conclusion, but CarMD officials said drivers far from their local repair shops can be at the mercy of unscrupulous mechanics.

Also, road trips can put extra wear and tear on a car, resulting in more serious automotive problems, said Kristin Brocoff, a spokeswoman for CarMD.com. "You can look at so many facets of this study and draw your own conclusion," she said.

The lowest average repair costs were charged in Indiana ($284), Maine ($290) and Wisconsin ($290), the study found.

Costly Web access tops hotel pet-peeve list

With regard to hotels, the top pet peeves of travelers have more to do with getting work done and less to do with getting a good night's sleep, according to a new survey.

The study of 750 readers of the Flyertalk online community site concluded that expensive Internet access was the top peeve, followed by unreachable or insufficient outlets and weak or slow Internet access.

Bad lighting and uncomfortable desk chairs were also high on the list.

"If I can get free Wi-Fi at Starbucks where I'm buying a $4 cup of coffee, why can't I get free Wi-Fi at a hotel where I'm paying $250 a night?" a Flyertalk reader dubbed Redhead wrote in response to the survey.

Last year's top pet peeve, hard-to-adjust climate control, fell to No. 5 on the list.

Only one of the top 10 pet peeves — uncomfortable pillows — was directly related to the primary purpose of a hotel room: getting some sleep.

The other pet peeves in the top 10 included noise from neighboring rooms, insufficient water pressure, Do Not Disturb signs that are ignored and drapes that don't fully close or let in too much light..

Unkempt or filthy hotel rooms did not rank in even the top 20 pet peeves.

But in an unrelated study, researchers from the University of Houston concluded that grime and filth can be found in the most unlikely of places in hotel rooms.

That study, based on cleanliness tests of surfaces in hotel rooms in Texas, Indiana and South Carolina, found that the television remote controls in hotel rooms have some of the highest levels of contamination.

And as expected, the study found high levels of bacteria around the toilets and bathroom sink but also on the bedside lamp switch. And some of the highest levels of contamination were found on the items used by housekeepers to clean the rooms, including sponges and mops.

The cleanest surfaces in a hotel: bathroom door handles, bed headboards and curtain rods, according to the study.

"The information derived from the study could aid hotels in adopting a proactive approach for reducing potential hazards from contact with surfaces within hotel rooms and provide a basis for the development of more effective and efficient housekeeping practices," said Katie Kirsch, an undergraduate student at the University of Houston, who presented the study last week to a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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