Which US state is the worst for your car to break down?
Car breakdowns are never fun, whether it's your car, a rental car, or a car subscription. The best you can do is ensure regular maintenance and services on your vehicle to prevent breakdowns.
But even with proper care, sometimes cars are subject to wear and tear; old parts eventually give out, and then you’re stuck by a roadside. In that event, you’d want the most favorable circumstances, reasonable repair costs, easily accessible transport while your car is being fixed, and no unpleasant weather conditions.
As such, which states are the least favorable for your car to break down in?
The experts at FINN have looked at data across each state in the US to determine which ones you want to avoid your car breaking down in.
Breakdown Score: 2.65/10
Alabama is the worst state for your car to break down in, scoring 2.65 out of 10 overall. The state ranked in the top three for states with the least accessible public transportation, with a usage rate of just 0.23%, and for the highest average rainfall, with 56 inches annually. Alabama also ranked in the top ten for states with the least mechanics, 179 per 100,000 people, and the most expensive cost for car repairs, $399.33.
Breakdown Score: 3.39/10
Connecticut is the second-worst state in the US for your car to break down, scoring 3.39 out of 10 overall. The state ranked as the most expensive in the US for car repairs, with an average cost of $418.37, including parts and cost of labor. It also ranked in the top fifteen for states with the most rainfall and snowfall, with an average of 50 inches for the former and 37.85 inches for the latter.
Breakdown Score: 3.47/10
Coming in as the third-worst state for your car to break down in, we have Maine, the northeasternmost state in the US. Maine ranked second for states with the most snowfall, with an average of 77.28 inches, and has a usage rate of 0.26% for public transport, making it the fifth least accessible state for public transportation. It also ranked sixteenth among the states with the lowest amount of mechanics, having just 198 per 100,000 people, and inside the top 20 for states with the most rainfall, with an average of 45.49 inches.
Breakdown Score: 7.35/10
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Illinois as the most favourable state for your car to break down in. The state has the sixth most mechanics per 100,000 people at 237 as of May 2022 and the fifteenth lowest cost for car repairs, costing just $379.23 on average. Illinois also has the fourth most accessible public transportation, with a usage rate of 3.83% as of 2022.
Breakdown Score: 7.14/10
Arizona comes in as the second-best state for your car to break down in, scoring 7.14 out of 10 across all factors. The state has the fourteenth-highest number of mechanics employed per 100,000 of the population, at 221 as of May 2022. It also ranked in the top fifteen for states with the least annual snowfall and rainfall, at 4.76 inches for the former and 11.8 inches for the latter.
Breakdown Score: 6.78/10
And rounding out the top three best states for your car to break down in, we have Missouri, with a score of 6.78 out of 10. Missouri has the second-most mechanics employed per 100,000 of the population, at 264. The midwestern state had the fourteenth-lowest car repair costs, at just $378.85 on average. It also had the seventeenth-lowest amount of annual snowfall, recording just 12.67 inches.
Number of Mechanics per 100,000 people: 151
Washington, the northwesternmost state, comes out as the state with the lowest number of mechanics per 100,000 people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington has 151 mechanics employed per 100,000 people, which is considerably lower than the national average of 208.
Number of Mechanics per 100,000 people: 152
Closely behind Washington, we have neighbouring state Oregon taking second place for states with the lowest number of mechanics. When calculated per 100,000 of the population, the state has 152 mechanics employed.
Number of Mechanics per 100,000 people: 155
California ranks third amongst states with the lowest number of mechanics employed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data recorded that California has 155 mechanics per 100,000 of the state's population.
Average Car Repair Cost (Parts and Labor): $418.37
Connecticut, a state with a mix of coastal cities and rural areas, comes at the top with the highest average cost for car repairs. As of 2021, the average cost of parts and labor for car repairs in the state is $418.37. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, goods and services in the state cost 6.1% more than they do on average nationwide.
Average Car Repair Cost (Parts and Labor): $417.14
The state with the second highest cost of car repairs is Colorado, home of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. As of 2021, the average cost for car repairs in the state is around $417.14.
Average Car Repair Cost (Parts & Labor): $415.66
California, with its long coastline stretching along the Pacific Ocean in the west of the US, has the third highest car repair costs. The average cost of parts and labor in California is around $415.66 as of 2021.
Public Transport Usage Rate: 0.18%
The state with the least accessible public transportation is Oklahoma, which has a usage rate of 0.18% for its public transport. This doesn’t bode well if your vehicle breaks down, as you’ll have to rely on other transport, such as buses, to get around.
Public Transport Usage Rate: 0.19%
In second place for states with the least accessible public transport we have Arkansas. As of 2022, the usage rate for state public transport was just 0.19%; however, the Federal Transport Authority has recently awarded Arkansas a $47 million grant to make improvements.
Public Transport Usage Rate: 0.23%
And rounding out the top three states for the least accessible public transportation systems, we have Alabama, the third southern state to feature in this top three. The public transport usage rate in the state is at just 0.23% amongst commuters in 2022.
Average Annual Snowfall: 89.25 inches
Vermont, which already ranked in the top three for states with the fewest mechanics, comes in first place for states with the most snowfall. The average snowfall for the state is around 89.25 inches, which is less than ideal if your car happens to break down, as you may need your car's heating to keep yourself warm, and could even have to walk in harsh weather conditions.
Average Annual Snowfall: 77.28 inches
The state with the second highest snowfall in the US is Maine, which borders the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick. The average snowfall for the state is around 77.28 inches; Maine is well known for its especially snowy winters.
Average Annual Snowfall: 71.44 inches
New Hampshire, a state where people actively go to snowboard and ski, is the third snowiest state. The average annual snowfall for the state is around 71.44 inches. New Hampshire is well known for its long, snowy winters, and you can expect more snow the further north you go.
Average Annual Precipitation: 59.15 inches
Louisiana has the highest average annual rainfall, averaging around 59.15 inches yearly, most of which is between April and September, the state's “wet season.” Driving in torrential downpours can make conditions more challenging, and, of course, if your car breaks down, you don’t want to be stuck in the rain.
Average Annual Precipitation: 56.48 inches
Coming in as the state with the second highest average annual precipitation, we have Mississippi. The average rainfall for the year is around 56.48 inches; however, this is relatively spread out across the twelve months of the year.
Average Annual Precipitation: 56 inches
Alabama takes the third spot for states with the highest average annual precipitation, at 56 inches. The state is well-known for being prone to tropical storms and hurricanes, which can dump tremendous amounts of rain as they come inland over the state.
To begin with, we recorded the number of mechanics employed in each state using the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics,” searching for the number of automotive technicians and mechanics for the most recent dataset, May 2022. We then used the US Census Bureau to get the population estimated for each state from July 2022 (the most recently available figure). Using the population figures, we were then able to calculate the number of mechanics per 100,000 of the population.
We then used CarMD’s “Vehicle Health Index 2022” to get the average combined cost of parts and labor to repair a car for 2021, in USD, for each state.
Using the Bureau of Transportation Statistics “State Transport Statistics,” we were able to get the usage rate of public transport for each state amongst commuters for the year 2022.
Lastly, we used USA.com to take the “Average Annual Snowfall” and “Average Annual Precipitation,” both in inches for each state.
We then ranked each state on the above factors, giving them a normalized score out of 10 to determine which state is the worst for your car to break down. In this case, a higher score indicates that the state would be less preferred for your car to breakdown in.