Special Report

The Most (and Least) Expensive States to Drive

ThinkstockPhotos-520738437Owning a car is expensive. There are maintenance costs to consider, insurance to pay, and of course, gas. Several factors could affect these costs going forward. For one, if legislatures allow the Federal Highway Fund, which covers the costs of public infrastructure projects, to expire, road conditions might worsen. If the Iran deal is approved, industry experts speculate that gas prices may fall below $2 per gallon in some parts of the country by the end of the year. In other words, the stakes for car owners are higher than ever, and the cost of owning a vehicle is among the foremost concerns for the average American.

24/7 Wall St. calculated the annual operating expenses of owning a car in each state based on three measures: gas expenditure, repairs and maintenance, and insurance premiums. The cost of purchasing a vehicle was not included in the analysis. Michigan, where the cost of owning a vehicle is an estimated $4,678 per year, leads the nation. Hawaii, on the other hand, is the least expensive state to own a car, with an estimated annual cost of $3,310.

Click here to see the most expensive states to drive a car.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Mike Calkins, car expert and manager of technical services at American Automobile Association (AAA), said, “a car is costing you money every minute of every day whether or not you drive it. Depreciation is the single greatest cost of owning a car.” However, car values are extremely difficult to estimate even on a case by case basis, let alone in the aggregate, Calkins added.

Fuel costs account for the largest share of driving expenses in all but five states. And in 35 states, gas expenses made up more than 50% of the annual operating costs. While high gas prices make driving more expensive on a given day, drivers often drive less when gas prices are high and therefore end up actually paying less for gas over the course of the year. Conversely, an especially low gas price may encourage driving. Because of this, car owners often end up with a higher annual gas expenditure.

Of the 19 states where annual gas expenditure exceeded the national average of $1,840, 12 had below average gas prices. Mississippi is a notable example. While the state has nearly the lowest average gas price at $2.46 per gallon, it also led the nation in annual miles travelled per vehicle, at 18,692. Calkins agreed there appears to be a trend: “when gas prices fall, people drive more.”

Compared to annual gas expenditure and repairs, Car insurance premiums were usually a smaller part of total cost of maintaining a car. Nationwide, the average gas expenditure per year was $1,840, while car insurance accounted for $1,311 on average. Insurance costs accounted for a greater share of operating expenses than gas in only five states.

According to insurance review website Insure.com, insurance premiums are higher in dense urban environments, in states where relatively few people have car insurance, in states with low numbers of car insurance providers, and in states where higher levels of coverage are required by law. For example, in Michigan, all drivers are required to purchase unlimited medical coverage for all individuals involved in accidents. As a result, the state had the highest average insurance premium in the nation.

Calkins mentioned a long list of other factors that can affect how much a car owner will pay for insurance, including the driver’s age, car type, distance driven, the typical time of day he or she is on the road, and a host of other considerations. While insurance companies raise premiums for individuals with a poor driving record, a number of states with relatively inexpensive average insurance premiums had above-average motor vehicle-related fatalities. Still, vehicle accidents were likely a factor in states with especially high average premiums. In four of the five states with the highest average car insurance premiums, the number of vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 people exceeded the national average of 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

Repair and maintenance costs, which made up the smallest share of operating expenses in every state, were the final component. Repair costs were calculated based on labor and parts. In some states, the average annual cost of repairs related to the engine or emissions system was over $250, while in Wyoming, it was $157.

To identify the annual operating costs of operating a vehicle in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average annual costs of gas, car repairs, and insurance premiums in each state. Gas expenditure per car was calculated from average miles per gallon and annual vehicle miles travelled — each of which came from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); annual car repair costs, including labor and parts, came from Auto industry trends publication CarMD; and, the average car insurance premium in each state came from insure.com, an insurance review website. All data are as of the most recent periods available. We also reviewed the average price of gas as of July 14, 2015 in each state from AAA. The number of vehicles, vehicle registrations, miles driven, total gallons of fuel consumed, total miles travelled, persons fatally injured in motor-vehicle crashes, and the percentage of miles of road in poor condition came from the FHWA, and are for 2013. State excise taxes on gasoline came from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and are as of July 2015. All commuting figures and median earnings for individuals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

These are the most expensive states to drive a car.

50. Hawaii
> Total operating cost:
$2,732
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 951 (15th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.34 (3rd highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,114 (18th lowest)

Despite a high cost of living and high taxes, operating a car in Hawaii costs an estimated $2,732 per year, the least nationwide. Transporting goods to the state over the Pacific Ocean largely explains the Hawaii’s especially high cost of living, which is the highest nationwide. For vehicles, however, these transport costs are the same as they are across the nation due to a government regulation called “equalized delivery,” where manufacturers calculate destination fees on imported cars by calculating all shipping costs in the country and then dividing the fee equally among all U.S. car buyers.

As was the case nationwide, buying fuel was the most costly component of owning a vehicle in Hawaii. Gas cost $3.34 per gallon, however, the third highest in the nation. Drivers, however, used less gas than those in most other states, and gas expenditure made up a relatively small percentage of the overall operating cost. At 44.9%, it was the seventh lowest percentage in the country.

49. New Hampshire
> Total operating cost:
$2,775
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,065 (7th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.71 (24th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $905 (5th lowest)

Over 80% of New Hampshire’s population were licensed drivers, compared to 67.1% of Americans. Those drivers also spent more time in their cars than people in most other states. The average New Hampshire driver commuted roughly 27 minutes, the fourth longest commute to work of any state. Further, as many as 3.3% of workers commuted an hour and a half or more, which was the sixth largest share of residents with extra-long commute times. Considering so many New Hampshire residents drive so much, it is convenient that car ownership expenses are so low. The average annual car insurance premium was just $905, and drivers spent less than $1,500 on gas each year, both the fifth cheapest in their category in the country.

48. Wisconsin
> Total operating cost:
$2,882
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 930 (16th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (24th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $930 (6th lowest)

Wisconsin levies an excise tax on gasoline of 30.9 cents per gallon, the sixth highest tax rate nationwide. Still, a gallon of gas costs $2.75 as of the middle of July, in line with the national average price of $2.78. The average vehicle in the state could drive more than 19 miles on a gallon of fuel, the ninth most efficient average rate of fuel consumption in the country.Also, the average car travelled 11,142 miles annually, also below average. Relatively fuel-efficient motor travel and less driving among Wisconsin car owners contributed to a low annual gas expenditure of $1,593, versus the national average of $1,840. Insurance was also relatively inexpensive for Wisconsin car owners, at an average of $930 per year — Wisconsin was one of only eight states where the average premiums were less than $1,000 annually.

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47. Ohio
> Total operating cost:
$2,898
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 895 (24th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (21st highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $843 (2nd lowest)

Car insurance cost Ohio car owners just $843 per year on average, lower than in every state except for Maine. According to consumer insurance website Insure.com, the low rates are partly due to the high level of competition among insurance carriers doing business in the state. Only – — Illinois — had more auto insurance carriers than Ohio’s 671. The Federal Highway Administration assessed just 0.4% of Ohio’s roads as poor, nearly the lowest percentage nationwide. The high quality of the Ohio’s roads may have contributed to the very low overall cost of owning a vehicle in the state.

46. Iowa
> Total operating cost:
$2,903
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,146 (5th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.67 (19th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $886 (4th lowest)

The costs of owning a car increase the more the car is driven. As in many other states with the lowest annual vehicle operating costs, Iowa’s car owners drive far less than most Americans. Drivers in the state added 8,936 miles to their vehicles each year on average, the fourth lowest miles travelled and well below the national average figure of 11,751 miles annually. Low commute times can come with to fewer total miles travelled — just 1.3% of commuting workers reported travel times greater than 90 minutes, the fourth smallest percentage and half the national proportion. Despite relatively limited driving, there were 1.15 vehicles per person in Iowa, the fifth largest ratio. Iowa was also one of only 10 states where there were more cars than there were people.

45. Idaho
> Total operating cost:
$2,933
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,050 (8th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.05 (7th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $877 (3rd lowest)

The average insurance premium in Idaho was lower than in all but two other states. Insurance premiums tend to be higher in urban areas. Idaho is a relatively rural state, and the absence of dense city clusters may have helped lower insurance rates, according to Insure.com. Relatively few drivers were uninsured as well, which also contributed to the low premiums. Idaho was one of only seven states where the average price of gas exceeded $3.00 per gallon. Despite low overall ownership costs, high gas prices in Idaho may still be burdensome to drivers. The state had the lowest median earnings nationwide, at $28,141.

44. Vermont
> Total operating cost:
$2,972
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 976 (12th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (23rd highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $957 (7th lowest)

Vermont is among the nation’s least-densely populated states, and driving is a daily necessity for many residents living outside city centers. With 6.8% of the labor force working from home and 5.3% walking to work — the second and fourth highest percentages, respectively — some Vermonters have avoided auto commutes altogether. The number of miles travelled per year, however, at 11,631 per vehicle, was not significantly lower than the national average. Vehicles and driving behavior in the state were relatively fuel efficient. The average car got more than 19 miles on the gallon, the eighth highest average mileage nationwide.

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43. North Carolina
> Total operating cost:
$3,149
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 793 (13th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.62 (13th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $986 (8th lowest)

The average car repair cost in North Carolina of $431 annually was the fifth highest in the nation. Repair costs accounted for 13.7% of the total operating costs, the second highest share compared to other states. Still, with relatively cheap insurance and relatively affordable gas prices, the cost of owning a car in North Carolina was less than in most states. On average, car owners paid $986 for insurance, making North Carolina one of only eight states where the annual premium did not exceed $1,000.

A gallon of gas cost $2.62 as of the middle of July, also among the cheapest rates in the nation. Low gas prices do not always lower annual expenditures, as cheap fuel can mean drivers are less likely to think twice about traveling longer distances. This could have been the case in North Carolina, where drivers added 13,465 miles to their vehicles each year, the eighth longest distance travelled annually. However, with an average fuel efficiency of 20.38 miles per gallon — the third most efficient rate in the U.S. — total gas expenditure was still relatively low in North Caroina.

42. Minnesota
> Total operating cost:
$3,157
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 963 (14th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.67 (17th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,222 (23rd lowest)

It cost the average driver in Minnesota $3,157 to operate a vehicle for one year, several hundred dollars less than the national average of $3,541. Minnesota drivers paid less for nearly everything compared to drivers in most other states, including gas and insurance. However, though parts are cheaper in Minnesota than in most other states, repair labor costs were slightly higher. Costing an average of $162, hourly labor rates for car repair in Minnesota were in line with the national average.

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41. Illinois
> Total operating cost:
$3,158
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 791 (12th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.91 (11th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,079 (13th lowest)

Illinois was home to over 8.2 million licensed drivers, the sixth highest figure in the country. At an average price of $2.91 a gallon, fuel costs in Illinois are the 11th highest in the nation. Additionally, people tend to drive more in Illinois — a total of about 105.3 billion vehicle miles a year — the seventh highest statewide figure. Consequently, drivers in the state consumed a total of nearly 6 billion gallons of fuel each year. As in most states, fuel was the single largest expense for motorists in Illinois, accounting for 54.2% of the total cost of operating a vehicle, 2.2 percentage points higher than the corresponding national figure. Despite higher than average fuel costs and relatively high total miles driven, owning and operating a vehicle was not as expensive in Illinois as it was in most states. Total annual operating costs in the state amounted to an average of $3,158, several hundred dollars cheaper than the national average of $3,541.

40. Washington
> Total operating cost:
$3,165
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 917 (18th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.20 (5th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,110 (16th lowest)

Though it was one of the least expensive states for motorists, the average cost of parts and labor in Washington is surprisingly high. When the check engine light illuminated, drivers in Washington paid an average of $413, about $23 more than the national average. Additionally, as of mid-July, the cost of a gallon of gas was $3.20, making Washington one of only seven states where a gallon of regular unleaded exceeded $3. The relatively high cost of fuel may partially explain why people do not drive as much in the state. The average motorist in Washington drove only 8,949 miles per year, significantly less than the 11,751 miles the average American drove annually.

39. Virginia
> Total operating cost:
$3,170
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 854 (24th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.57 (10th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,008 (9th lowest)

The cost of operating a vehicle in Virginia was relatively low. At $3,170, annual operating costs were nearly $400 less than the national average of $3,541. A major factor was Virginia’s relatively low insurance cost. Insurance premiums across the state averaged about $1,008 annually, the ninth lowest cost in the country. Similarly, insurance costs accounted for just 31.8% of the average annual driving expenses in Virginia, significantly less than the 37% of the annual driving cost for the average American.

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38. Colorado
> Total operating cost:
$3,196
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 889 (25th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.70 (22nd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,245 (25th highest)

Due in large part to relatively inexpensive gas, the cost of operating a vehicle in Colorado was hundreds of dollars less than it was is on average across the country. However, fewer Colorado residents had a reason to drive. Nearly 7% of state residents worked from home, the highest proportion in the country. Furthermore, 1.3% of commuters in Colorado biked to work, the fourth largest proportion in the country. Those who do drive in Colorado use significantly less fuel than drivers in other states. Colorado drivers used nearly 100 gallons less than the average American driver, at 568.2 gallons of gas per year.

37. Nebraska
> Total operating cost:
$3,196
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,012 (10th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.68 (20th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,086 (14th lowest)

Even though gas prices in Nebraska are among the lowest in the nation — at $2.68 a gallon — fuel costs accounted for an unusually large 55.4% of the average Nebraska motorist’s budget. This was due, at least somewhat, to the low cost of parts and labor. When the check engine light came on in a vehicle in Nebraska, a driver paid an average of $340 for the repair, the third lowest cost in the country and $50 less than the nationwide average.

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36. Arizona
> Total operating cost:
$3,207
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 812 (17th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.79 (16th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,103 (15th lowest)

Due to slightly cheaper insurance costs and lower than average fuel usage, the average driver in Arizona spent about $330 less annually than drivers nationwide. Though the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded in Arizona was in line with the national average of $2.78, Arizona drivers spent about $130 less on fuel every year than the average American, a difference primarily attributable to better-than-average fuel economy in vehicles in the state. Furthermore, at $1,103, annual insurance premiums in Arizona were about $200 less than the national average.

35. New York
> Total operating cost:
$3,220
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 543 (the lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.93 (9th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,013 (10th lowest)

While driving is cheaper in New York than in most other states, the state had only 543 vehicles per 1,000 residents, the smallest ratio in the country. Many New Yorkers have little need for a car as 18.6% of state residents commuted to work by subway or elevated train, far and away the highest share in the country. This is likely attributable to the millions of state residents who call New York City home and use the city’s intricate network of subways and trains to get around.

34. Missouri
> Total operating cost:
$3,233
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 963 (13th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.55 (7th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,114 (18th lowest)

At $2.55 per gallon, gas in Missouri is nearly 25 cents cheaper than the national average price. However, Missouri drivers spent 53.5% of total driving costs on gas, slightly more than the 52% of total driving costs the average American driver spent on gas. Driving costs in Missouri were further reduced by lower than average insurance premiums. The average driver in Missouri paid $1,114 annually for insurance, about $200 less than the average American.

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33. Kansas
> Total operating cost:
$3,282
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 908 (20th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.60 (12th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,147 (19th lowest)

While the overall cost of operating a vehicle in Kansas was below the national average, owners sustained higher costs for repairs compared to their peers in other states. The average cost of labor for car repairs was $174 per year in the state, the third highest in the nation. Gas cost $2.60 per gallon as of the middle of July — the 12th lowest in the country — and Kansas drivers drove slightly less than most Americans, lowering the total annual gas expenditure. A typical driver in Kansas spent $1,724 on fuel each year versus the national annual average expenditure of $1,839.

32. Oregon
> Total operating cost:
$3,299
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 917 (19th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.15 (6th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,211 (22nd lowest)

Gas cost $3.15 per gallon in Oregon as of July 15, the sixth highest gas price nationwide. The state is one of only seven states where gas cost more than $3.00 per gallon.With no oil refineries in Oregon, gas prices in the state largely depend on conditions in California, where the nearest refineries operate. Oregon gas prices rose earlier in the year after a refinery explosion and labor strike caused California oil production to plummet. However, Oregon residents also tend to drive less, which lowers their total gas expenditure. Drivers in the state put less than 9,400 miles on their vehicles per year versus the national average of 11,751.

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31. Maine
> Total operating cost:
$3,310
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 903 (21st highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.79 (17th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $805 (the lowest)

The average Maine car owner spent just $805 on insurance annually, the lowest premium nationwide. According to Insure.com, the absence of major urban centers brings down average insurance costs in the state. The state also reports excellent coverage rates — when more people pay insurance, premiums are more likely to be lower. However, because it is primarily rural, residents in the state drive more. Together with the relatively high gas price of $2.79 per gallon as of July 15, annual average gas expenditure totalled $2,132, the eighth highest gas cost nationwide.

30. Delaware
> Total operating cost:
$3,315
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,023 (9th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.67 (18th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,542 (12th highest)

Across most states, gas expenditure accounted for over half of total vehicle operating expenses. In Delaware, however, it accounted for less than 40%, the fourth lowest such percentage in the nation. Drivers in the state put relatively few miles on their vehicles annually, and gas prices were below-average, bringing the total annual gas expenditure to $1,322, nearly the lowest gas expenditure nationwide. At 46.5%, insurance costs were the largest contributor to total expenses. Car owners paid $1,542 per year for insurance, on average, the 12th highest premium in the country. Maintenance and repairs were also relatively expensive in Delaware. The average annual cost of engine and emissions system repairs was $451, higher than in any other state.

29. South Dakota
> Total operating cost:
$3,318
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,202 (3rd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.74 (25th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,180 (20th lowest)

South Dakota residents were more likely than most Americans to own multiple vehicles. There were 1.2 vehicles in the state per person, the third ratio in the country. There were more cars than people in only nine other states. South Dakota residents did not drive as much as other Americans, however. For each registered vehicle, drivers travelled fewer than 9,000 miles, the sixth lowest annual mileage. Average miles per gallon, on the other hand, was 14.19, far less efficient than the national average of 17.7 miles per gallon. While South Dakota drivers record poor fuel efficiency on average, but also tend to drive less, annual gas prices were in line with the national average.

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28. Alabama
> Total operating cost:
$3,386
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 990 (11th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.47 (3rd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,320 (21st highest)

The low cost of gas in Alabama of just $2.47 may have resulted in drivers taking longer road trips. Drivers in the state added 13,588 miles on average to their vehicles each year, the seventh longest distance travelled compared to other states. Despite the longer than average distances traveled, the total annual gas expenditure was below average, although gas expenditure still accounted for about half of the total vehicle operating costs in Alabama. Driving more often also increases the probability of vehicle accidents. There were 17.6 fatalities on the road per 100,000 Alabama residents, the fifth highest rate nationwide.

27. Rhode Island
> Total operating cost:
$3,392
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 811 (16th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.79 (18th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,656 (7th highest)

Relatively efficient driving helped lower the total annual costs of operating a vehicle in Rhode Island. Despite the above-average gas price of $2.79 per gallon, total annual gas expenditure per vehicle was $1,345, nearly the lowest nationwide. The average vehicle travelled 18.87 miles on a gallon of gas, which was the 11th most efficient usage. Each vehicle consumed just 483 gallons annually, the second lowest consumption level nationwide. The high insurance cost in the state, at an average of $1,656 annually, was the largest contributor to total driving costs, accounting for 48.8% of overall annual operating expenses. This was also the third largest such contribution compared to other states.

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26. Indiana
> Total operating cost:
$3,406
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 848 (23rd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.66 (16th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,033 (11th lowest)

Gas usage accounted for the bulk of vehicle operating expenses in most states. This was especially the case in Indiana, where gas expenditure accounted for more than 58% of the total cost of owning a car, one of the highest such contributions. While gas in Indiana was cheaper than in most states, state car owners drove an average of 14,049 miles per year, more than residents in all but three other states. Cars in Indiana were relatively efficient, getting an average of 18.89 miles per gallon, the 10th most efficient rate in the country. Still, good efficiency did not sufficiently lower the average gas expenditure, which amounted to nearly $2,000 — the 15th highest annual cost of gas in the nation.

25. Pennsylvania
> Total operating cost:
$3,470
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 819 (19th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.85 (12th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,304 (22nd highest)

Total state and federal excise taxes on gasoline in Pennsylvania, at 70 cents per gallon, were the highest in the nation. The tax rate helped raise the cost of fuel to $2.85 per gallon, which was the 12th highest nationwide. Drivers in the state added an average of 9,428 miles to their vehicles per year, among the shortest distances travelled annually in the country per vehicle. This helped keep annual gas expenditure in the state slightly below average.The average costs of repair and maintenance, on the other hand, were more expensive in Pennsylvania than in most other states.

24. Alaska
> Total operating cost:
$3,474
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,069 (6th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.47 (2nd highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,410 (17th highest)

As of the middle of July, Alaska had the second-highest gas price after only Hawaii, and the state was one of only seven where gas prices exceeded $3.00 per gallon. The state is a major source of crude oil for the nation. However, most of the crude is exported, and the demand for refined petroleum products such as gasoline is low in Alaska compared to other states, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). On average, each vehicle in Alaska added just 6,170 miles annually, the lowest nationwide. The average Alaskan vehicle got 12.59 miles to the gallon, the second least efficient average in the country.

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23. Tennessee
> Total operating cost:
$3,474
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 839 (22nd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.51 (5th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,263 (23rd highest)

Relatively low taxes and a single petroleum refinery contributed to the Tennessee’s low gas price of $2.51 per gallon, the fifth cheapest nationwide. Tennessee car owners drove 13,035 miles annually in their cars, which is roughly 1,300 miles more than the average American driver. Partially as a result, the average gas expenditure in the state was slightly higher than in most states. Nearly 84% of workers in Tennessee commuted alone by car, truck, or van, the third highest percentage in the country. This could have contributed to the above-average annual distance travelled in the state.

22. Montana
> Total operating cost:
$3,604
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,517 (the highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.82 (14th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,886 (2nd highest)

The average car insurance costs accounted for 52.3% of the overall costs of operating a vehicle in Montana, higher even than the annual gas expenditure. Only four other states had higher insurance costs than gas costs. A range of factors can contribute to the high insurance costs. There were 22.6 fatalities on the road in the state, the highest rate in the country. In addition, Montana legislators have not passed very many driver safety laws, including texting while driving prohibitions and primary seatbelt laws — drivers cannot be penalized for not wearing their seat belts unless they are stopped for other offenses. Not only does this likely increase the risk level, but also insurance companies are less likely to move to the state — and with fewer providers, costs tend to rise.

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21. Massachusetts
> Total operating cost:
$3,621
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 745 (6th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.76 (20th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,460 (15th highest)

Massachusetts drivers reported the nation’s lowest incidence of fatalities on the road, at just 4.9 per 100,000 people. And while a higher percentage of drivers had insurance than in every other state, insurance premiums were still above average. Massachusetts residents could likely afford the premiums — a typical individual in the state earned $41,324 annually, the third highest median earnings in the country. State residents spent more time commuting than the vast majority of American workers. Commuting by car took an average of 28.6 minutes, the fourth longest commute time in the nation.

20. Kentucky
> Total operating cost:
$3,641
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 917 (17th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.70 (21st lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,341 (20th highest)

The average cost of car repairs, including parts and labor, was $416 per year in Kentucky, 12th highest among all states. As a result, car repairs accounted for a slightly above average share of the total costs of operating a vehicle. Gas in the state cost slightly less than it did nationwide, at $2.70 per gallon, and annual gas expenditure accounted for 51.7% of the total operating cost in Kentucky, in line with the national average share.

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19. South Carolina
> Total operating cost:
$3,652
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 835 (21st lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.41 (the lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,210 (21st lowest)

South Carolina had the lowest gas price in the nation at $2.41 per gallon as of the middle of July. Cheap fuel may have encouraged motorists to drive more often, as state car owners also reported the fifth highest gas consumption rate of 844.3 gallons per vehicle each year. This high consumption is largely due to high traffic volume on South Carolina’s major roads, according to the EIA. Drivers spent more than $2,000 per year on average on gasoline, 12th most in the country. This amounted to 55.6% of South Carolina drivers’ total annual expenses, the 13th largest share compared to other states.

18. Arkansas
> Total operating cost:
$3,663
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 817 (18th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.49 (4th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,239 (25th lowest)

Two oil refineries operate in the south of Arkansas. A relatively close source of gasoline may partly explain the state’s low gas prices. As of July 15, gas cost $2.49 per gallon, the fourth lowest gas prices nationwide. As in many other states with relatively low gas prices, cheap fuel may make driving more appealing. Arkansas had the seventh highest gas consumption of all states, with an average vehicle using 802.5 gallons annually to travel 13,852 miles, the seventh and sixth highest figures, respectively. As a result, the average expenditure on fuel was nearly $2,000 per year, one of the higher annual costs.

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17. Utah
> Total operating cost:
$3,681
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 710 (4th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.97 (8th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,059 (12th lowest)

Gas expenditure accounted for 60.1% of the total operating costs of owning a vehicle in Utah, the second highest such contribution compared to other states. Gas in Utah was far more expensive than in the rest of the nation, and drivers consumed more fuel than in the rest of the country. As of mid July, a gallon cost $2.97, the eighth highest gas price. Motorists used 745.6 gallons each year on average, well above the national average consumption of 663.0 gallons. As a consequence, a typical car owner spent $2,212 on fuel each year, the sixth highest figure. However, vehicles were not very numerous in Utah. There were just 710 cars per 1,000 people, the fourth lowest proportion in the country.

16. Nevada
> Total operating cost:
$3,685
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 790 (11th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.27 (4th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,248 (24th highest)

Gas cost $3.27 per gallon in Nevada, higher than in all but three other states. Nevada was also one of only seven states where the average gas price exceeded $3.00 per gallon. The Las Vegas metro area mandates clean-burning gasoline blends. The higher prices of these blends partly accounts for the high statewide gas prices. While Nevada motorists tended to drive less than most Americans, the average gas expenditure of $2,064 per year was among the highest nationwide. Commuters in particular may have preferred driving to work, as the average commute time by public transportation was about one hour for Nevadan workers, the second longest average time nationwide.

15. New Mexico
> Total operating cost:
$3,716
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 903 (22nd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.71 (23rd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,237 (24th lowest)

While gas cost slightly less in New Mexico than it did in most states, car owners in the state spent more than $2,000 per year on fuel, the 10th highest expenditure in the country. The average cost of repairs, including labor and parts, was $431 each year, the seventh highest cost. And because of relatively low incomes, the relatively high cost of owning a car in New Mexico may be an even greater financial challenge compared to the residents of other states. A typical resident earned $29,983 annually, the fifth lowest median wage in the nation.

14. New Jersey
> Total operating cost:
$3,754
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 793 (14th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.59 (11th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,595 (9th highest)

Relatively high insurance premiums and maintenance costs contributed to the above-average cost of operating a vehicle in New Jersey. A typical car owner spent $1,595 on insurance per vehicle each year, the ninth highest premium of all states. The average car repair, including labor and parts, cost $447 annually, higher than in every state except for Delaware. Reformulated gasoline blended with ethanol is required throughout New Jersey, one of only a few states where this is the case. The proximity of New York Harbor, which is one of the region’s largest hubs for ethanol, helps lower gas prices in the state. As of July 15, gas cost $2.59 per gallon in New Jersey, the 11th lowest average nationwide.

13. Florida
> Total operating cost:
$3,799
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 774 (8th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.66 (15th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,742 (4th highest)

Florida had the fourth highest average car insurance premium, at $1,742 per vehicle. The high numbers of car fatalities likely partly contributing to high insurance premiums in the state. There were 2,407 motor vehicle deaths in 2013, the third highest death toll compared to other states. Adjusted for population, there were 12.3 car accident fatalities per 100,000 people, also above the national average.

Motorists in Florida drove more than Americans in other states, adding 12,735 miles to their vehicles each year on average. Cars in the state, however, were relatively fuel efficient, likely due in part to near year-round favorable driving conditions. An average gallon of gas was used to travel 20.57 miles in Florida, more efficient than in every other state except for Hawaii.

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12. Connecticut
> Total operating cost:
$3,837
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 794 (15th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.93 (10th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,690 (6th highest)

Unlike most states with above-average vehicle operating costs, Connecticut motorists spent less on gas than most Americans. Average gas expenditure totalled $1,710 per year versus the national average of $1,840. While gas prices were among the highest, the expensive fuel may have discouraged car owners from driving excessively, as was the case in many other states. Gas cost $2.93 per gallon, and motorists added 10,836 miles to their vehicles each year on average, one of the lower figures nationwide.

11. Oklahoma
> Total operating cost:
$3,846
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 899 (23rd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.56 (8th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,496 (14th highest)

As of mid-July, a gallon of gas cost just $2.56 in Oklahoma, one of the lowest gas prices in the country and significantly less than the national average gas price of $2.78 per gallon. With relatively low fuel costs, state residents drove an average of 13,872 miles a year, the fifth highest mileage in the country and much more than the 11,751 miles the average American drove. Consequently, drivers in the Sooner State spent roughly the same portion of their driving budget on gas as the average American driver — 51.4% versus 52%, respectively. Also, at $1,496 per year, state insurance premiums were nearly $200 higher than the nationwide average premium of $1,311.

10. Georgia
> Total operating cost:
$3,987
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 779 (9th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.65 (14th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,519 (13th highest)

Gas in Georgia cost an average of $2.65 a gallon, 13 cents cheaper than the national average. Despite the relatively low gas price, the total annual gas expenditure per vehicle was higher than in most states. Drivers in Georgia travelled an average of 14,055 miles a year, farther than drivers in all but two other states. Consequently, at an average of $2,036, annual gas costs for motorists in Georgia was about $200 more than it was across the rest of the country. Additionally, at $1,519, average insurance premiums were also about $200 more than the national average.

9. Texas
> Total operating cost:
$4,030
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 763 (7th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.56 (9th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,449 (16th highest)

According to the EIA, Texas leads the nation in both petroleum production and consumption. There are 27 petroleum refineries in the state, many of which yield high quantities of gasoline. As one of the nation’s major petroleum hubs, it is perhaps no surprise that gas is cheap compared to most states. Gas cost $2.56 per gallon as of the middle of July, the ninth lowest average gas price. Cheap fuel does not discourage consumption. The average driver in Texas uses 846 gallons of fuel a year, the fourth highest level nationwide.

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8. Louisiana
> Total operating cost:
$4,041
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 856 (25th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.54 (6th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,774 (3rd highest)

While the overall cost of owning a car in Louisiana was relatively high, not every expense component cost more than average. The state is home to a great many refineries, and as a result the cost of a gallon of gas was just $2.54, the sixth lowest average gas price in the country. Other expenses more than offset any money Louisiana drivers saved in gas costs. The average insurance premium drivers paid was $1,774 per year, third highest in the country. Repair costs were also high in the state, with the average driver spending $262 on engine and emissions system-related repairs, eighth most of all states.

7. Wyoming
> Total operating cost:
$4,059
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,425 (2nd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.81 (15th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,371 (19th highest)

It cost the average Wyoming driver about $4,059 every year to operate a vehicle, about $500 more than it cost the average American. In a state with approximately 582,600 residents, there were more cars than there were people. While the overall cost of owning a car in the state is high, repairs are extremely inexpensive. Drivers spent an average of just $309 per year on parts and labor when their check engine light came on, the lowest rate in the country. Gas was the primary reason for high driving costs across the state. A motorist in Wyoming spent an average of $2,379 a year on gas, the third highest figure in the country and significantly more than the national average of $1,840.

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6. West Virginia
> Total operating cost:
$4,114
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 784 (10th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.78 (19th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,716 (5th highest)

The average driver in West Virginia spent $1,716 each year on car insurance, the fifth highest premium of any state. The high incidence of accident-related fatalities likely raised insurance rates. There were 17.9 motor vehicle-related deaths per 100,000 West Virginians, the fourth highest rate nationwide. Frequent driving increased the probability of accidents and also raised annual gas expenditure for drivers. A typical motorist added 13,233 miles to their vehicles each year, the 10th greatest distance compared to other states. Also, drivers in the state spent more than $2,000 on average on fuel, one of the higher annual costs in the country.

5. Maryland
> Total operating cost:
$4,319
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 647 (2nd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (22nd highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,590 (10th highest)

High annual gas expenditure and high insurance premiums drove up the high overall cost of operating vehicle in Maryland. A typical car owner spent $2,317 on gas and $1,590 on car insurance each year in the state, the fourth and 10th highest figures, respectively. While the gas price of $2.75 per gallon as of July 15 was in line with the national price level, Maryland car owners drove 14,787 miles per year on average in their cars, more than every state except for Mississippi.

4. California
> Total operating cost:
$4,392
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 732 (5th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.80 (the highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,643 (8th highest)

The high cost of operating a vehicle in California trails only three other states, largely due to high gas prices. As of the middle of July, an average gallon of gas cost $3.80 in California, by far the highest rate in the country. In addition, relatively high annual insurance premiums and maintenance costs, $1,643 and $438 respectively, contributed to higher operating costs. Californians drove about as much as the average American, driving an average of 11,738 miles annually. Vehicles in the state tended to be relatively fuel-efficient. The average vehicle got 19.31 miles to the gallon, the seventh highest average fuel efficiency nationwide.

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3. North Dakota
> Total operating cost:
$4,461
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,168 (4th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.72 (25th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,377 (18th highest)

While the average price of gas in North Dakota was only slightly lower than the national average price of $2.78 per gallon, the average gas expenditure per vehicle in North Dakota, at $2,512 per year, was the highest in the nation. The average vehicle in the state consumed about 980 gallons of gasoline per year, the second highest rate of fuel consumption after only Mississippi. Some individuals and businesses incur the fuel costs for multiple vehicles as there are actually more cars in North Dakota than there are people, at 1.17 cars per capita — the fourth highest ratio nationwide. Driving in the state is also not particularly fuel-efficient, as a gallon of gas was spent driving just 12.21 miles, the lowest average fuel efficiency in the country. Above-average insurance premiums contributed to the high operating costs as well, likely due in part to high numbers of fatal crashes. An estimated 20.5 people were killed in car crashes per 100,000 people, the highest death rate from vehicle accidents nationwide.

2. Mississippi
> Total operating cost:
$4,474
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 693 (3rd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.46 (2nd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,584 (11th highest)

A gallon of gas cost just $2.46 in Mississippi, lower than every other state except for South Carolina. Cheap fuel in the state may have contributed to higher gas consumption among the state’s drivers. On average, 1,020 gallons of gas were consumed per vehicle annually in Mississippi, the highest consumption level nationwide and well above the national average of 663 gallons. More frequent driving raised the average gas expenditure per vehicle, which was an estimated $2,512 per year, the second highest gas expenditure after North Dakota. There were fewer than 700 vehicles per 1,000 state residents, the third lowest ratio in the country. The high costs of car ownership were likely prohibitively high for many would-be car owners, especially low-income individuals. The typical Mississippian earned $28,175 annually, the second-lowest median income in the nation.

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1. Michigan
> Total operating cost:
$4,678
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 828 (20th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.82 (13th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $2,476 (the highest)

As the epicenter of the nation’s auto industry, many vehicles in Michigan are not far from where they were manufactured. The proximity lowers sticker prices on new vehicles and likely contributes to cheaper car parts. On average, car repairs, including parts and labor, cost $354 in Michigan, the fourth least expensive nationwide. Overall operating costs, however, were not much lower at all. In fact, Michigan is the most expensive state in which to own a car, with the cost driven largely by high insurance premiums. The average annual car insurance premium was $2,476 in Michigan, the highest in the country. Michigan has a relatively unusual, no-fault auto insurance system. Car owners need to purchase personal injury protection insurance to ensure unlimited medical bills coverage for all parties involved in an accident. In addition, car owners pay an annual assessment fee of $186 per vehicle to the Catastrophic Claim Association — the fee is not included in the annual average insurance cost.

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