There was a time when the average vehicle could be expected to go wrong on a fairly regular basis.

That's not the case these days, and in general cars are more reliable than ever--even if repair costs are increasing.

Well, they are for regular vehicles anyway, as a study by CarMD suggests the cost of repairing hybrid vehicles is going in the opposite direction.

According to Auto Week, CarMD's third annual Auto Health Index says car repair costs went up 10 percent in 2012, compared to the previous year. That's despite actual visits to the shop going down slightly.

CarMD attributes the increase in costs to a few different factors. Firstly, the average vehicle is getting older. It's a good indication of just how good modern cars are getting, that even older vehicles are remaining on the road for longer, but it does increase the likelihood of buyers experiencing what the Index calls "catastrophic repairs"--replacement or repair of more expensive, complicated components.

These catastrophic repairs increased a full 24 percent in 2012, perhaps partly down to another contributing factor--a particularly hot 2012. The warmer weather contributes to increased wear and tear on vehicles and could accelerate the demise of components in older cars.

Location also plays a part--costs apparently rose 11.6 percent in the Northeast, compared to an average of 10 percent across the country.

Still, hybrid buyers have something to be smug about--repair costs actually went down.

Part of this is down to an increase in the number of hybrids on the road, which in turn means an increased supply of parts and more technicians qualified to fix them.

But we'd also suggest it's down to the ongoing reliability of many hybrid vehicles compared to their non-hybrid counterparts--and the lack of strain they put on their components.

How is your own car holding up? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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