Special Report

The Most (and Least) Expensive States to Drive

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.

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