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From repair costs to insurance premiums, owning a car is an expense that extends far beyond the purchase price. As of 2022, it costs $10,728 per year, or $894 per month, to own and operate a new car, according to AAA. That’s up 10.99% from 2021.
In some parts of the country, car ownership poses a greater financial burden for drivers due to the high cost of gas, repairs and car insurance.
To determine which states are the most expensive for car ownership, Forbes Advisor analyzed gas prices, car repair costs, car insurance rates and monthly auto loan payments for all 50 states.
- California and Nevada tied as the most expensive states to own a car in the U.S, followed by Colorado, Florida and Alaska.
- Ohio is the least expensive state to own a car, followed by Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine and New Hampshire.
- Seven of the 10 most expensive states for car ownership are located in the Pacific and West, including California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, New Mexico, Washington and Wyoming.
- Six of the 10 least expensive states for car ownership are in the Midwest, including Kansas, Nebraska, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio.
- Connecticut is the most expensive state for car repairs (Connecticut residents pay $418.37 on average for check engine light-related car repairs).
- New York is the most expensive state for full coverage car insurance ($4,769 per year).
Top 10 Most Expensive States to Own a Car
No. 1 California (tie)
California’s score: 100 out of 100
- With the second highest gas price ($4.76 per gallon of regular gasoline) and the third highest average car repair cost ($415.66), California tied with Nevada as the most expensive state to own a car in the country.
- On average, California drivers also pay the eleventh highest amount for full coverage car insurance ($2,462 per year).
No. 1 Nevada (tie)
Nevada’s score: 100 out of 100
- Nevada tied with California as the most expensive state to own a car nationwide.
- Gas prices in Nevada are the third highest in the nation ($4.24 per gallon of regular gasoline).
- Drivers in the Silver State pay the sixth highest amount, on average, for full coverage car insurance ($3,342 annually), and are tied with North Dakota drivers for having the tenth highest average monthly auto loan payment ($582).
No. 3 Colorado
Colorado’s score: 96.53 out of 100
- Centennial State drivers pay the second highest amount for check engine light-related car repairs ($417.14).
- Colorado is also the fifth most expensive state to buy gasoline ($4.09 per gallon of regular gas) and the tenth most expensive state for full coverage car insurance ($2,489 per year).
No. 4 Florida
Florida’s score: 84.03 out of 100
- Florida drivers pay the second highest amount, on average, for full coverage car insurance ($4,326 per year).
No. 5 Alaska
Alaska’s score: 80.56 out of 100
- Alaska drivers pay the seventh highest gas price ($3.84 per gallon of regular gasoline) and have the ninth highest monthly auto loan payment ($583 on average).
No. 6 Maryland
Maryland’s score: 77.08 out of 100
- Maryland is the fifth most expensive state to buy full coverage car insurance ($3,349 per year) and the eleventh most expensive state for check engine light-related car repairs ($399.07).
No. 7 Georgia
Georgia’s score: 75.69 out of 100
- Georgia drivers pay the fourth highest amount for car repairs ($407.71 on average), and have the eighth highest average monthly auto loan payment ($590).
No. 8 New Mexico
New Mexico’s score: 73.61 out of 100
- Drivers in the Land of Enchantment have the fourth highest average monthly auto loan payment in the nation ($616).
No. 9 Louisiana
Louisiana’s score: 71.53 out of 100
- Louisiana ranked third highest in the nation for two of the metrics that we considered: average annual cost of full coverage car insurance ($3,629), and average monthly auto loan payment ($627).
No. 10 Washington (tie)
Washington’s score: 70.83 out of 100
- Gas prices in Washington are the fourth highest in the nation ($4.21 per gallon of regular gasoline).
No. 10 Wyoming (tie)
Wyoming’s score: 70.83 out of 100
- Drivers in the Equality State have the second highest average monthly auto loan payment ($636) and pay the thirteenth highest amount for check engine light-related car repairs ($397.79 on average).
No. 10 Texas (tie)
Texas’ score: 70.83 out of 100
- Texas drivers have the highest average monthly auto loan payment in the nation ($662), and pay the eighth highest amount for full coverage car insurance ($2,938 per year).
Tips to Reduce the Cost of Car Ownership
Owning a car comes with expenses you can’t skip. You’ll need gas for a gas-powered car, and nearly every state requires car insurance to drive legally. But there are ways to trim the cost of car ownership.
Reduce gas usage
You can’t change the price of gas at the pump, but you may be able to use less gas:
- Instead of making multiple trips, consider mapping out the best way to hit all the places you need to go so that you drive fewer miles and spend less on gas.
- You may be able to lower your gas usage by removing unnecessary weight in your vehicle and reducing the air conditioning level.
- Take public transportation when possible and save your car for when you really need to drive.
Research car insurance costs before buying a vehicle
Sure, the cost of the car is a priority when buying a vehicle but what about gas, repairs, maintenance and car insurance costs? Consider all of these factors so you don’t get into a financial crunch as soon as you drive off the lot.
Cars with smaller engines use less gas and there are plenty of hybrid and electric cars now to choose from to lower your dependence on gas. For repair and maintenance costs, there are various car sites with reliability reports that include costs for maintenance and repairs so you know what to expect before you buy.
Do regular vehicle maintenance
By regularly maintaining your vehicle, you may be able to avoid expensive and unexpected repair costs down the road. Check your car manual for a maintenance schedule. Routine maintenance often includes:
- Changing motor oil and filter, air filter and fuel filter
- Replacing spark plugs and wires
- Replacing brake pads and rotors
- Rotating tires
- Replacing belts, hoses and windshield wiper blades
- Replacing engine and brake coolant
- Adjusting tire pressure
- Cleaning the air intake system
Review your car insurance coverage
Before you start getting car insurance quotes, consider how much car insurance you need. The level of car insurance coverage that worked for you a few years ago might not be the best fit for you today.
For instance, you may find that it no longer makes financial sense to have comprehensive and collision insurance on an older car. Or you may decide you don’t need rental reimbursement coverage if your household has an extra car you could drive if yours is in for repairs after an accident.
Compare car insurance quotes
Car insurance rates by state vary widely. Perhaps you live in New York (the most expensive state for car insurance) or Idaho (the cheapest state for car insurance). Regardless of where you live, there are ways to get cheap car insurance rates.
The cost of car insurance varies significantly among car insurance companies because they use different formulas to assess risk. Comparing car insurance quotes from multiple insurers is one of the best ways to find cheap car insurance.
Also, ask your auto insurance agent to run quotes for you for the vehicle models you’re considering, to see if there’s a large difference in the cost of car insurance.
Consider increasing your car insurance deductible
If you have collision and comprehensive coverage, ask your insurance company how much you can save by raising your car insurance deductible. Drivers who increase their deductibles can save between 7% to 28% a year on average, according to Forbes Advisor’s analysis.
To determine which states are the most expensive for car ownership, Forbes Advisor examined data for all 50 states across the following metrics:
- Cost of regular gasoline (25% of score): Data for this metric comes from AAA and was collected on February 24th, 2023.
- Average car repair cost (25% of score): This metric includes the cost of parts and labor for a check engine light-related car repair. Data for this metric comes from CarMD and is from 2021.
- Average annual cost of full coverage car insurance (25% of score): This metric includes full coverage car insurance rates based on liability coverage of 100/300/100 ($100,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $300,000 per accident, and $100,000 in property damage liability), uninsured motorist coverage and collision and comprehensive insurance with a $500 deductible. We used data from Quadrant Information Services.
- Average monthly auto loan payment (25% of score): Data for this metric comes from Experian and is from 2022.
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