The Most (and Least) Expensive States to Drive

June 29, 2016 by Evan Comen

Car Dashboard driving
Source: Thinkstock
After housing, transportation is the average American’s second largest yearly expense. Gasoline, insurance, and car repairs cost the average driver more than $3,000 annually. A number of factors, such as gas prices and road infrastructure, determine the cost of owning and operating a car. These factors vary widely from state to state.

To identify the most expensive states to drive in, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle. The calculation included fuel expenditures, repairs and maintenance costs, and insurance premiums. The most expensive state to drive in is Michigan, where the cost to own and operate a car is $4,654 a year. The least expensive state is Ohio, where the annual cost is $2,522.

Fuel is the largest transportation expense in 36 states. Fuel expenses mostly depend on gas prices and driving practices. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Michael Calkins, manager of technical services at the American Automobile Association, explained that in some parts of the country, destinations are typically much further apart. “It’s a lot easier to go from Boston to Philadelphia than it is to go from Houston to Dallas,” he said. As a result, residents drive more in rural Southern and Western states than in urban Northeastern ones, and ultimately consume more fuel.

Click here to see the most (and least) expensive states to drive.

State and local governments set various fuel taxes, ranging from 12.25 cents a gallon in Alaska to 50.30 cents a gallon in Pennsylvania. Other factors, such as a state’s production capacity and fuel regulations, can affect the price of gas by state. With the average car consuming 528 gallons of gas annually nationwide, differences in gas prices add up.

In most states, car insurance comprises the second largest expense. “Insurance varies widely,” Calkins said, from $808 for the average premium in Maine to $2,738 in Michigan. “It depends on the individual, their driving history, the type of vehicle, where they drive, how they drive, where the car is parked, what their average miles are per year, whether they’re married or have children,” he continued.

According to consumer insurance website Insure.com, insurance carriers also consider factors such as the probability of accidents in a given state or the likelihood of residents to sue when setting rates.

According to Calkins, while it is not an out of pocket expense, depreciation is actually the costliest aspect of car ownership. Cars lose resale value every year — and lose it faster the more they are driven. Cars can also depreciate faster depending on the quality of an area’s roads.

It is also important to note how car ownership varies across the country. While the average cost of owning and operating one car in the U.S. is $3,164, many Americans are likely paying this expense for more than one vehicle. In Montana, for example, the average car is driven about 4,000 fewer miles in a year than the national average, and the average annual fuel cost per car is the lowest in the country. However, there are more than twice as many cars in Montana as there are licensed drivers. As a result, the actual cost of driving in a state with high car ownership such as Montana is likely understated by the cost of driving just one car.

In order to determine the most and least expensive states to drive, 24/7 Wall St. added the average annual costs of insurance, gasoline, and repairs cost by state. The total cost of repair represents the sum of the average amount paid for parts and labor by drivers getting their check engine lights fixed, and was provided by automobile software developer CarMD. The cost of repairs are not necessarily on an annual basis and were used as a proxy for annual repair costs. Gas expenditure per car was calculated from average miles per gallon and annual vehicle miles travelled, which came from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The average car insurance premium in each state came from Insure.com, an insurance review website. All data are as of the most recent period available. We also reviewed the average price of gas as of June 10, 2015 in each state from AAA. The number of vehicles, vehicle registrations, miles driven, total gallons of fuel consumed, and total miles travelled came from the FHWA and are for 2014. The percentage of miles of road in poor condition also came from the FHWA and are for 2013. State excise taxes on gasoline came from the American Petroleum Institute. All commuting figures and urban and rural composition data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Accident fatality data came from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

These are the most (and least) expensive states to drive.

50. Ohio
> Total operating cost:
$2,522
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 904 (23rd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.67 (20th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $900 (2nd lowest)

Car insurance in Ohio costs drivers just $900 annually, the least of any state other than Maine. According to consumer insurance website Insure.com, the low premiums are likely the result of the large number of insurance carriers in state. There are currently more than 650 insurance carriers in Ohio. This relatively large figure creates a competitive environment that can ultimately lead to lower rates.

Ohioans are also saving at the repair shop. Drivers fixing a check engine light alert end up paying $356 for parts and labor on average, the third least of any state.

49. Hawaii
> Total operating cost:
$2,524
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,000 (11th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.31 (3rd highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,049 (11th lowest)

While Hawaii is one of the most expensive places to live, it is actually one of the least expensive states to drive in. Although the price of a gallon of gas is more expensive in Hawaii than nearly any other state, Hawaiians drive so little that a year’s worth of gas is relatively inexpensive. The typical state resident drives just 7,305 miles annually, far less than the 9,633 miles Americans drive nationwide. As a result, the average cost of a year’s worth of gas in Hawaii is just $1,071 per car, the least of any state other than Montana.

48. Idaho
> Total operating cost:
$2,533
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,102 (7th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.92 (8th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $935 (4th lowest)

While at $2.92 per gallon the average price of gas in Idaho is relatively high, drivers in the state ultimately spend less at the pump than most drivers in the country. The average car in Idaho uses just about 407 gallons of gas annually, far less than the 528 gallon national average. As a result, the average cost of a year’s worth of gas is just $1,189 per car, the sixth least of any state.

That Idaho residents use less fuel may actually be hurting the state’s transportation infrastructure because of the lower collected gas tax. To offset a multi-million dollar transportation funding shortfall, the Idaho state legislature recently increased its gas tax by 7 cents a gallon and began charging hybrid and electric vehicles a $75 annual fee. Idaho was one of four states heavily dependent on gas taxes to enact such fees on hybrid vehicles in 2015.

47. Iowa
> Total operating cost:
$2,594
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,168 (5th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.67 (23rd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $989 (8th lowest)

Iowa is one of the most affordable states for car repairs. The average cost of fixing problem that triggers a check engine light comes to $358 in parts and labor, the fifth least of any state. Drivers can also get insured for relatively little. The average insurance premium in Iowa is just $989, more than $300 less than the $1,325 national average.

Iowa is one of the more rural states, and residents may have more need to drive than in much of the country. There are also 1,168 vehicles for every 1,000 Iowa residents, more vehicles per capita than in all but four other states.

46. Wisconsin
> Total operating cost:
$2,596
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 933 (17th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.71 (22nd highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $912 (3rd lowest)

The average car insurance premium in Wisconsin costs just $912, the third lowest of any state. According to consumer insurance website Insure.com, Wisconsin has a fairly competitive insurance market which ultimately keeps rates down.

Wisconsin drivers also tend to save at the repair shop. The average cost of having a check engine light assessed and repaired is just $357, the fourth lowest nationwide. Although the average state resident spends a similar amount on gas as the average American does annually, Wisconsin is still one of the least expensive places to drive.

45. Alaska
> Total operating cost:
$2,681
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,099 (8th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.37 (2nd highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,078 (15th lowest)

Residents of Alaska drive the least of residents of any state. So while gas in the state is among the most expensive in the country, and Alaskan vehicles tend to be less fuel efficient than those in other states, state drivers tend to spend less on gas in a year than most Americans. The average state resident spends just $1,196 on gas per car annually, the seventh least nationwide.

Alaskan roads are relatively dangerous. The state is one of only six in which more than one-fourth of all roads are in poor condition. Also, there are 150 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled, 42 more deaths than the national average. Nevertheless, the average insurance premium in the state costs just $1,078, much less than the $1,325 national average.

44. Illinois
> Total operating cost:
$2,705
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 808 (11th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.90 (9th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,035 (10th lowest)

Because Illinois is one of the more urban states, residents may not feel the need to drive as much as residents of other states. The average Illinois vehicle consumes 448 gallons of fuel annually, about 80 gallons less than that of the average American vehicle. Illinois motorists spend $1,298 on gas per car a year, about $150 less than the national average.

Illinois residents also tend to spend less on car insurance and repairs. In the state, the average insurance premium costs $1,035, and the average cost of fixing a check engine light is $372, each some of the lowest such figures in the nation. Overall, the average cost of car maintenance in Illinois is $2,705 a year, the seventh least of any state.

43. South Dakota
> Total operating cost:
$2,725
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,237 (3rd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.71 (22nd highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,168 (20th lowest)

South Dakota’s population is more than twice as rural as the nation as a whole, and for this reason, residents may have more need for cars than residents nationwide. There are 1,237 vehicles per 1,000 state residents, the third highest proportion in the country. Likely at least in part because many have multiple vehicles, motorists in South Dakota end up spending an average of $1,187 on fuel per car annually, the fifth least of any state. Drivers in the state also tend to spend less on car insurance and repairs than in most of the country. Overall, the average cost to maintain and operate a car for a year in South Dakota is $2,725, far less than the $3,164 it costs the average American.

42. Vermont
> Total operating cost:
$2,749
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 978 (13th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.76 (13th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $942 (6th lowest)

There are just 62 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled in Vermont, the second fewest of any state. The low likelihood of road fatalities may be one reason for the relatively affordable car insurance in the state. The average premium costs just $942, far less than the $1,325 national average cost and one of the lowest of all states. When pumping gas or fixing their check engine lights, Vermont residents tend to spend a similar amount as the average American. Overall, the average cost to maintain and operate a vehicle in the state is just $2,749 a year, making Vermont one of the most affordable states for drivers.

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41. New Hampshire
> Total operating cost:
$2,775
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 992 (12th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.67 (22nd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $941 (5th lowest)

There are 73 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled in New Hampshire, 35 fewer than the national average. The low likelihood of accident fatalities may be one reason for the relatively affordable car insurance in the state. The average car insurance premium is just $941, the fifth lowest nationwide.

When fixing their check engine lights and paying for a year’s worth of gas, New Hampshire drivers spend $389 and $1,445 per car on average — similar to the corresponding national average costs. Accounting for car repairs, gas, and insurance, it costs the average New Hampshire driver $2,775 to maintain and operate a vehicle for a year, far less than the $3,164 national average.

40. Nebraska
> Total operating cost:
$2,776
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,050 (9th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.66 (17th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,188 (22nd lowest)

The average Nebraska vehicle consumes 457 gallons of gas a year, about 70 gallons less than the national average. Gas is slightly cheaper in Nebraska than in most of the country, and the average driver spends $1,215 on fuel per car annually, one of the lowest amounts in the nation.

As fuel efficiency increases, revenue from gas taxes can fall, and many states are taking action to prevent transportation budget shortfalls. Nebraska was one of the first states to institute an additional fee for hybrid and electric cars, requiring a $75 registration fee for alternative fuel vehicles. More recently, the state passed a highly contested hike on gas taxes. Gas taxes are set to gradually increase by 6 cents over the next three years, which will make the state somewhat more expensive for drivers.

39. Kansas
> Total operating cost:
$2,820
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 882 (25th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.56 (11th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,135 (17th lowest)

Kansas drivers spend less on repairs than those in most other states. Car owners in the state also spend slightly less than the average American on other major vehicle expenses as well. The average car insurance premium in the state costs $1,135, about $200 less than the corresponding national figure. Similarly, the average annual fuel expenditure in Kansas is $1,316 per car, less than the $1,452 national average. Overall, Kansas drivers spend $2,820 on average on insurance, car repairs, and a year’s worth of gas, about $350 less than the average American.

38. North Carolina
> Total operating cost:
$2,835
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 808 (12th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.64 (14th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $987 (7th lowest)

Cars in North Carolina travel 13,714 miles each year on average, the third most of any state. However, gas is slightly cheaper in the state than in most of the country, and vehicles in the state are relatively more fuel efficient. The average driver in the state ends up spending about $1,450 on fuel a year, the same as the average American driver. In 2013, North Carolina passed legislation that requires owners of electric plug-in vehicles to pay an annual $100 registration fee. State gas taxes are also scheduled to decrease from 37.5 cents a gallon to 34 cents by July of this year.

North Carolina also has some of the most affordable car insurance nationwide. The average premium is just $987, far less than the $1,325 national average.

37. Indiana
> Total operating cost:
$2,836
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 919 (22nd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.69 (25th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,113 (16th lowest)

Car repairs are relatively inexpensive in Indiana. Drivers fixing problems triggered by check engine lights in Indiana end up paying just $356 on average, the second least of any state. Indiana residents also spend relatively little on car insurance. The average car insurance premium in Indiana is $1,113, about $200 less than the national average.

Indiana motorists also save at the pump. Although Indiana vehicles are driven about 1,600 more miles a year than the national average, drivers spend about $100 less in gas per car annually. The average Indiana driver spends $1,367 on gas per car a year, less than the $1,452 national figure.

36. Virginia
> Total operating cost:
$2,853
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 875 (23rd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.54 (7th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,020 (9th lowest)

Virginia drivers can purchase fuel and car insurance for relatively little. The average car insurance premium is $1,020, far less than the $1,325 national figure. Also, gas in the state is among the least expensive nationwide. Virginia residents drive a typical amount and spend about $1,424 on fuel per car annually, about the same as the average American.

Car repairs, however, are somewhat costly in Virginia. Nevertheless, the total annual operating cost of driving a car in Virginia is about $300 less than the national average.

35. Missouri
> Total operating cost:
$2,880
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 885 (25th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.51 (4th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,056 (13th lowest)

The average vehicle in Missouri consumes 580 gallons of gas a year, about 50 gallons more than the national average. Gas in Missouri is relatively cheap, however. Despite the higher rate of fuel consumption, state drivers end up paying about $1,456 for a year’s worth of gas each, about the same as the average American.

Missouri residents do save, however, on car repairs, as well as car insurance. Car insurance costs an average of $1,056 a year, less than the $1,325 national figure.

34. Washington
> Total operating cost:
$2,890
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 928 (18th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.06 (5th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,168 (20th lowest)

Gas is more expensive in Washington than it is in the vast majority of states. On average, vehicles in the state consume just 430 gallons of fuel a year each, however, about 100 less than the national figure. The average Washington motorist ends up spending $1,314 per car on fuel annually, about $140 less than the average American. That gap may thin, however, as the state’s gas tax is set to increase in July. The increase is the second installment of the state’s 11.9 cent fuel tax hike, which was instituted to help pay for improvements to the state’s transportation system. Currently, 17.8% of Washington’s roads are in poor condition, significantly more than the 10.7% national share.

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33. Arizona
> Total operating cost:
$2,897
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 852 (21st lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (16th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,188 (22nd lowest)

Arizona residents spend slightly less on car repairs, insurance, and gas than the average American. The average motorist in the state spends $386 on typical repairs, $1,188 on car insurance, and $1,323 on a year’s worth of gas for each car, each slightly less than the corresponding national figures.

Arizona has numerous incentives in place to encourage hybrid and electric vehicles. While many states charge alternative-fuel vehicles extra fees, Arizona will reimburse residents up to $75 for installing an electric vehicle charging outlet in their homes. Additionally, the registration fee for alternative-fuel vehicles is low. While the license tax on a new $30,000 conventional fuel vehicle is $504 in the first year, it is $12 for a hybrid model of the same price.

32. New York
> Total operating cost:
$2,912
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 556 (the lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.89 (11th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,050 (12th lowest)

New Yorkers drive far less than the average American. More than two in five residents of the state live in New York City, where fewer than half of all households own a car. Only 60.4% of New York state residents drive to work, the smallest share of any state.

Those New Yorkers who do drive, however, pay relatively more at the pump. Gas prices in the state are among the highest in the country, at least partially because of the state’s high gas tax rates. As a result, despite the fact that they tend to drive less, New York drivers end up paying $1,474 a year in gas per vehicle, about the same as the average American.

31. Minnesota
> Total operating cost:
$2,921
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 970 (14th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.64 (15th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,257 (25th lowest)

There are just 63 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled on Minnesota roads, nearly the least of any state. Safe driving behavior goes somewhat unrewarded, however, as the average car insurance premium in Minnesota of $1,257 is just $68 less than the national average.

Minnesota residents tend to drive more than the average American. The average state motorist drives 17,095 miles a year, far more than the 14,132 mile national figure. Gas is fairly inexpensive in the state, however, and despite driving more the typical motorist ends up spending about $170 less in fuel a year than the average American. For a year of gas, insurance, and one car repair, the average Minnesota driver spends $2,921, less than the $3,164 national average.

30. Alabama
> Total operating cost:
$2,944
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,114 (6th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.54 (6th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,337 (19th highest)

Alabama is one of the most rural states, and residents may have more need to drive than most Americans. There are 1,114 vehicles for every 1,000 Alabamians, about 290 more than the national proportion. The average Alabama motorist travels 16,918 miles a year, far more than the 14,132 miles the average American drives. Alabama gas is nearly the least expensive in the country, however, making the large amount of driving somewhat affordable. Alabama residents end up spending $1,224 on gas per car annually, about $230 less than the national average. Repairs and car insurance in the state cost about the same as they do nationwide.

29. Maine
> Total operating cost:
$2,969
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 899 (24th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (15th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $808 (the lowest)

Maine is the only state in which insurance accounts for less than one-third of the cost of owning and operating a car. The average premium is just $808, the cheapest of any state. According to consumer insurance company Insure.com, infrequent traffic accidents, a low risk of weather incidents such as tornadoes or hailstorms, and the high share of drivers with car insurance in Maine help keep rates low.

While insurance is cheap in Maine, getting around is more expensive. More than 60% of Maine residents live in rural households, the highest share of any state. Citizens of rural areas tend to drive more than residents of urban ones. The average driver spends about $1,800 in fuel per car annually, about $350 more than the average American.

28. Tennessee
> Total operating cost:
$2,994
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 852 (22nd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.52 (5th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,145 (18th lowest)

Tennessee is one of the most rural states, and residents drive far more than most Americans. The average vehicle in the state is driven 13,162 miles a year, about 1,500 more than the national figure. Inexpensive gas, however, makes the large amounts of driving in the state somewhat affordable. A year of driving costs $1,463 per car in gas on average, about the same as the country as a whole. Tennessee drivers also tend to save on insurance and car repairs. For a year of fuel, insurance, and fixing a check engine light, the average Tennessee motorist spends $2,996, less than the $3,164 national average.

27. Oregon
> Total operating cost:
$2,996
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 876 (24th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.02 (7th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,267 (25th highest)

Oregon has no oil refineries and must import all of its fuel. Partially as a result, Oregon gas is among the most expensive in the country. State residents do relatively little driving, however, and have some of the most fuel-efficient cars in the country. The average motorist ends up paying $1,325 in gas per car annually, less than the $1,452 national average.

Oregon is one of a handful of states restructuring its gas tax policy in an attempt to cope with the increasing number of hybrid and electric vehicles. The state began to roll out its OReGO program last year, which charges drivers 1.5 cents per mile traveled instead of the 30 cents normally charged for a gallon of gas. The program is meant to collect an equal share of taxes from alternative and conventional vehicles. Oregon was the first state to establish a gas tax, and it is now the first to establish a pay-by-the-mile system.

26. New Mexico
> Total operating cost:
$3,008
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 928 (19th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.66 (19th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,277 (23rd highest)

New Mexico’s roads are among the most dangerous in the United States. There are 151 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled in the state, the sixth highest rate nationwide. Despite the high likelihood of accidents, car insurance in the state is relatively affordable. The average premium is $1,277, slightly less than the $1,325 national figure.

Although New Mexico residents drive far more than the average American, cheap fuel in the state helps keep driving costs relatively low. A year’s worth of driving in New Mexico costs $1,326 per car on average, about $130 less than the national average. The average annual cost of owning and operating a car in the state comes out to $3,008 compared to $3,164 for the country as a whole.

25. Colorado
> Total operating cost:
$3,009
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 927 (20th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.63 (13th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,393 (15th highest)

Colorado has some of the cheaper gas in the country. It is one of the more urban states, and residents drive less than those in the majority of states. The average motorist spends just about $1,200 on fuel for each car annually, roughly $250 less than the national figure. Colorado’s gas tax is currently 22 cents per gallon, which may change in the near future as members of the state government seek new sources of funding for crucial repairs to Colorado’s highway infrastructure.

Colorado residents spend more at the repair shop than most Americans. The average cost of fixing a check engine light is $416, among the most of any state. For a year of driving, car insurance, and a car repair, Colorado motorists spend $3,009 on average, less than the $3,164 national figure.

24. Arkansas
> Total operating cost:
$3,018
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 943 (16th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.50 (3rd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,345 (18th highest)

Arkansas is one of 10 states in which more than 40% of residents live in rural areas, likely making driving more of a necessity than in most of the country. The average motorist in Arkansas drives 16,111 miles each year, about 2,000 more than the 14,132 the average American drives.With relatively inexpensive gas, however, Arkansas drivers spend less on fuel than most Americans. A year’s worth of gas in the state costs $1,282 on average, about $170 less than the corresponding national figure. Unlike many states, driving expenses in Arkansas are not likely to rise in the near future. Earlier this year, Governor Asa Hutchinson opposed suggestions from a highway funding working group to increase fuel taxes and announced a new funding plan that includes no such tax hikes.

23. Pennsylvania
> Total operating cost:
$3,027
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 823 (17th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.85 (12th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,305 (21st highest)

Pennsylvania residents drive far less than most Americans. The average motorist in the state drives just 11,203 miles annually, the fourth fewest vehicle miles per driver in the country. Gas, however, is relatively expensive, and the average motorist spends $1,341 on fuel per car annually, only slightly less than the national average.

For other driving expenses, Pennsylvania motorists spend a similar amount as drivers nationwide. The average insurance premium is $1,305, and the average cost of fixing a check engine light $381 — each within $20 of the corresponding national figure. The total cost of owning and operating a motor vehicle in the state for a year is $3,027, about $140 less than what the average American spends.

22. Utah
> Total operating cost:
$3,028
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 752 (5th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.03 (6th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,061 (14th lowest)

Utah has some of the most expensive gas in the country. There are just 752 vehicles per 1,000 state residents, the fifth lowest such proportion. However, families are larger in Utah than in any other state, which is likely one reason for the low vehicle count. The average Utah driver actually travels 19,327 miles a year, the fifth most of any state. A year of fuel costs drivers $1,559 a year for each car on average, one of the highest fuel expenditures in the country.

Utah’s roads are fairly safe and in good shape. There are relatively few motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled, and just 2.4% of roads are in poor condition. This may explain why the average insurance premium is just $1,061, about $300 less than the national average.

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21. Wyoming
> Total operating cost:
$3,028
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,426 (2nd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.74 (19th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,421 (14th highest)

No state drives more than Wyoming. There are 1,426 motor vehicles per 1,000 Wyoming residents, the second highest proportion in the country. The average motorist drives 22,306 miles a year, the most of any state and over 8,000 more miles than the average American. The average motorist spends $1,180 on gas per car annually, far less than the $1,452 national figure. However, as nearly half of all residents have a second vehicle, drivers likely spend far more on gas in a year.

In addition to having more cars per capita, Wyoming also has more accidents. There are 159 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled, the second most of any state. This may be one reason behind Wyoming’s expensive insurance. The average premium is $1,421, about $100 more than the national average.

20. Kentucky
> Total operating cost:
$3,049
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 946 (15th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.68 (24th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,295 (22nd highest)

The cost of owning and operating a car in Kentucky is about the same as the cost across the country as a whole. The average driver pays $390 for having a check engine light fixed and $1,295 on car insurance, both within $30 of the national figures. Compared to the typical American driver, however, Kentucky motorists save some money on gas, paying $1,365 per car for a year’s worth of fuel, about $100 less than the average American pays.

Kentucky is one of the most rural states, and its residents rely more on cars than most Americans. Only 7.5% of residents commute to work by a means other than driving, about half the 14.1% national share.

19. North Dakota
> Total operating cost:
$3,055
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,235 (4th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.65 (16th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,200 (23rd lowest)

Residents of a relatively sparsely-populated state, North Dakotans tend to drive far more than the average American and use more gas. Nationwide, the typical driver covers roughly 14,000 miles in a year. In North Dakota, drivers cover nearly 20,000 miles per year, the third most in the country. Gas, however, is relatively inexpensive in the state. The average annual gas costs per car of $1,435 is roughly in line with the national average of $1,451 per car. There are nearly two vehicles for every licensed driver, however, and many are likely paying this expense for more than one vehicle.

18. Rhode Island
> Total operating cost:
$3,192
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 821 (14th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (17th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,608 (9th highest)

Rhode Island residents drive relatively little. The average vehicle is driven just 8,878 miles and consumes about 425 gallons of gas a year, each the fifth lowest such figure in the country. As a result, Rhode Island drivers end up spending about $1,167 on fuel per car annually, the third least of any state.

Cars may face more wear and tear in Rhode Island than in most states. Almost 40% of state roads are in poor condition, nearly four times the national share of bad roads and the largest share in the country. Unfortunately, car repairs in Rhode Island cost more than they do in the vast majority of states. Rhode Island drivers also spend heavily on insurance. The average premium costs $1,608 a year, about $300 more than the national average.

17. Massachusetts
> Total operating cost:
$3,208
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 750 (4th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.72 (21st highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,325 (20th highest)

Residents are less likely to drive to work in Massachusetts than in every state but New York. There are only 750 cars for every 1,000 state residents, fewer than in all but three states. For those who do drive, car ownership is slightly more expensive than it is on average nationwide. In particular, owners spend more on gas per car than owners in the majority of states, at $1,483 per car compared to a national average gas cost of $1,451 per vehicle a year.

16. Delaware
> Total operating cost:
$3,213
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,044 (10th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.66 (19th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,607 (10th highest)

Delaware motorists drive less than most Americans. The average car in the state is driven 10,021 miles annually, about 1,600 less than the national figure. Delaware vehicles are also among the most fuel-efficient in the country. Drivers in Delaware spend $1,208 a year on gas, among the least of any state.

Insurance in the state, however, is not so cheap. The average premium is $1,607 a year, about $300 more than the national figure. Costly insurance may be partially due to the high frequency of car accidents in Delaware. There are 126 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled in the state, more than the 108 deaths per million mile national rate.

15. Connecticut
> Total operating cost:
$3,228
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 798 (8th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.90 (10th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,367 (16th highest)

The cost of gasoline in Connecticut is higher than it is in the majority of states. This is in part due to the state’s relatively high 37.9 cent a gallon gas tax. However, because state residents tend to drive less, they pay slightly less on gasoline a year than the national average of $1,451 per car.

Goods and services are generally more expensive in the state, which likely contributes to Connecticut’s relatively high repair costs. Insurance costs are also above average in the state.

14. Nevada
> Total operating cost:
$3,234
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 811 (13th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.26 (4th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,221 (24th lowest)

Gasoline in Nevada is among the most expensive in the nation. Nevada buys most of its fuel from California, where certain environmental regulations make gas costlier to produce. Cars in Nevada are also among the least fuel efficient in the country. Drivers end up spending $1,613 on fuel per car annually, more than the $1,452 national average.

Only 1.4% of Nevada roads are in poor condition, the smallest share nationwide. The well kept road infrastructure may prevent wear and tear on tires and ultimately limit the need for tire replacements. For some other automobile expenses, Nevadans pay similar amounts to most Americans. The average cost of insurance, a year’s worth of fuel, and getting a check engine light fixed amounts to $3,234 per car, slightly more than the national figure.

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13. West Virginia
> Total operating cost:
$3,283
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 838 (18th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.76 (13th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,456 (13th highest)

West Virginia is one of the most rural states in the county, and residents may need to drive more than most Americans. Just 7.3% of workers in the state commute by means other than driving, about half the national share. The average car is driven 12,309 miles a year, about 700 more than the national average. Drivers, however, end up spending the same as the average American on fuel at $1,452 per car a year.

There are 142 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled in West Virginia, among the most of any state. The high frequency of accidents in the state may inflate insurance prices. The average car insurance premium in West Virginia is $1,456, more than the $1,325 national figure.

12. South Carolina
> Total operating cost:
$3,385
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 850 (20th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.46 (the lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,353 (17th highest)

South Carolina is fairly rural, and as a consequence residents may have more need to drive than most Americans. The average car in the state consumes 668 gallons of gas a year, nearly the most in the country. Despite having the cheapest gas of any state, South Carolina drivers end up spending $1,643 on fuel per car annually, the fifth most of any state.

There are 165 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled in South Carolina, the highest accident fatality rate in the country. While the likelihood of an accident is higher in South Carolina than it is nationwide, car insurance costs about the same. The average premium in South Carolina is $1,353 a year, similar to the $1,325 national figure.

11. Georgia
> Total operating cost:
$3,503
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 823 (16th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.67 (21st lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,559 (11th highest)

Georgians drive more than most Americans. The average vehicle in the state travels 13,677 miles a year, the fourth most nationwide. Motorists end up spending $1,534 on gas per car annually, among the most of any state.

Georgians also tend to spend more on car repairs and insurance. The average cost of having a check engine light fixed is $410, and the average car insurance premium is $1,559, both among the highest in the country. Together, the average cost of owning and operating a car in the state comes to $3,503, about $300 more than the average cost a typical American driver pays.

10. Florida
> Total operating cost:
$3,509
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 801 (10th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.70 (25th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,654 (7th highest)

Florida residents tend to drive more than the average American does. The average vehicle is driven 12,966 miles a year, about 1,300 more than the national average. Drivers spend $1,468 in gas per car on average annually, similar to the $1,452 spent by the average American motorist.

Floridians are subject to some of the most expensive car insurance rates in the country. The average premium of $1,654 is about $300 more than the national average car insurance rate. Combined, owning and operating a car in the state costs $3,509 on average, one of the highest such figures nationwide.

9. Texas
> Total operating cost:
$3,531
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 800 (9th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.55 (10th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,510 (12th highest)

Texas is the nation’s leading producer of crude oil and has some of the least expensive fuel. However, because Texans drive more than the average American, they end up spending far more on fuel. The average motorist in Texas spends $1,634 on gas per car annually, the sixth most of any state.

There are 146 motor vehicle deaths for every million miles traveled on Texas roads, about 40 more than the national rate. The high likelihood of accidents may inflate car insurance rates in the state. The average insurance premium in Texas is $1,510, about $200 more than the $1,325 national average car insurance premium.

8. Oklahoma
> Total operating cost:
$3,588
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 921 (21st highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.54 (8th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,778 (5th highest)

Oklahomans drive far more than the average American. Only 7.3% workers in the state commute by means other than driving, about half the national share. The average vehicle in Oklahoma is driven 13,559 miles a year, the fifth most of any state. Oklahoma gas prices are fairly inexpensive, however, and motorists spend about $1,440 on fuel per car annually, similar to the national average.

The largest driving expense in Oklahoma is insurance. The average premium costs $1,778, about $500 more than the corresponding national figure.

7. Montana
> Total operating cost:
$3,596
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,576 (the highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.70 (24th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $2,297 (2nd highest)

There are 158 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled on Montana roads, 50 more than the corresponding national rate. According to consumer insurance website Insure.com, frequent accidents in the state likely drive up insurance rates. The average insurance premium in Montana of $2,297 is nearly $1,000 more than the national average premium and second most of any state.

Montana is one of the most rural states in the country, and residents may have more need to drive than most Americans. With 1,576 motor vehicles per 1,000 people, Montanans have the most cars per capita of any state. So while the $883 the average Montana motorist spends on a year’s worth of gas for one car is relatively low, many drivers likely face such fuel expenditures for multiple vehicles.

6. Mississippi
> Total operating cost:
$3,684
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 693 (3rd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.48 (2nd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,277 (23rd highest)

Car owners in Mississippi pay about the same as the average American in both annual car insurance and repairs. The typical driver, however, pays more than average for gas. Residents pay $2,000 for each car on gasoline a year, the most in the country by more than $170.
This is in part because of how much Mississippians drive. Nearly 95% of state commuters drive to work every day, more than in every state but Alabama. The average driver in Mississippi covers nearly 20,000 miles each year, well above the national average of 14,132 miles and more than in any state except for Wyoming.

5. Louisiana
> Total operating cost:
$3,699
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 845 (19th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.54 (9th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,842 (4th highest)

There are 153 motor vehicle deaths for every million miles traveled on Louisiana roads, the fifth most of any state. The high fatality rate may be one reason for the state’s high insurance costs. The average insurance premium in Louisiana is $1,842, about $500 more than the national average premium.

Louisiana motorists tend to drive more than most Americans. Cars consume about 581 gallons of gas a year, about 50 more than cars consume nationwide on average. With Louisiana’s relatively inexpensive fuel, however, residents end up paying $1,476 on gas per car annually, just slightly more than the $1,452 the average American spends.

4. New Jersey
> Total operating cost:
$3,853
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 775 (7th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.56 (12th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,905 (3rd highest)

Car insurance premiums in New Jersey average $1,905 a year, the third most of any state. According to Insure.com, costly insurance is likely the result of multiple factors. New Jersey residents are more likely to sue one another than most Americans, which increases the cost of coverage for many providers. New Jersey is also subject to high rates of insurance fraud, which ultimately raises rates for all drivers in the state. Also, the high population density in the state may mean greater risk of car accidents. However, there are just 74 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled on New Jersey roads, the sixth least of any state.

With just 775 cars per 1,000 people, New Jersey residents drive less than most Americans. Only 80.2% of New Jersey workers drive to work, the third smallest share of any state.

3. Maryland
> Total operating cost:
$3,872
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 688 (2nd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.72 (20th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,610 (8th highest)

The general cost of goods and services in Maryland is about 11% higher than it is across the country. Perhaps at least partially for this reason drivers pay among the most in the country for repairs, insurance costs, and gasoline.

In particular, gas is expensive in the state, and Maryland drivers pay more per car than any state except for Mississippi. This is largely because of how much Maryland drivers use their cars each year. In a year, the typical vehicle travels 13,927 miles and uses 677 gallons of gas, each the second highest figure of any state in the country.

2. California
> Total operating cost:
$4,024
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 754 (6th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.58 (the highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,752 (6th highest)

California gas prices are consistently among the most expensive in the country. The state has some of the highest state and local fuel taxes and requires a special blend of gasoline intended to reduce air pollution. The reformulated gasoline requirement adds 5 to 15 cents to the price of a gallon and limits the refineries from which California can source its fuel. With limited production capacity, California motorists are particularly subject to short-term spikes in fuel prices. The average driver in the state spends $1,837 on gas per car annually, the third most in the country.

California drivers are also subject to high insurance rates. Car insurance premiums in the state are $1,752 on average, about $400 more than the national average.

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1. Michigan
> Total operating cost:
$4,654
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 822 (15th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (17th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $2,738 (the highest)

Michigan, traditionally the country’s automotive manufacturing hub, is the most expensive place in the country to drive a car. Car repairs appear to be the least expensive in the country. However, insurance and gas more than make up the difference. Michigan residents spend $1,562 on gasoline per car each year. While this is the eighth highest gas expenditure per vehicle of any state, it only amounts to one-third of Michigan’s total driver bill.

The reason gas takes up such a small portion of Michigan’s driver costs is insurance expenses. Insurance in Michigan costs to a nation-leading $2,738 per vehicle, which is more than double the national average insurance premium of $1,325. According to consumer insurance website Insure.com, Michigan is the only state in the country that requires auto insurance buyers to purchase full medical benefits as part of their policy, driving up premiums.