Special Report

The Most (and Least) Expensive States to Drive

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.