Special Report

The Most (and Least) Expensive States to Drive

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.

ALSO READ: Customer Service Hall of Shame

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.

ALSO READ: IPO’s Running Out of Cash

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.