Rising inflation has made almost everything in America more expensive, and vehicles are not the least among them. Owning a car is tougher and more expensive than ever, between vehicle prices, registration fees, fuel costs, and rising car insurance premiums. But some states are particularly worse off than others and depending on where you live, it could be much more (or less) expensive to own a vehicle.
How Much Does The Average American Pay?
First, let’s take a look at some average numbers, which aren’t terribly encouraging. According to a recent survey by Insurify, cars are more expensive than ever. The average price of a new car is $48,182 as of July 2022 — an increase of 11.9% over the previous year — and used cars are up by 43% at an average of $33,341.
But that’s not all that’s more expensive. Cheap Michigan car insurance is getting increasingly harder to find, as insurance premiums are up by 13%; and it’s no secret fuel costs have skyrocketed too, with gas prices a full 79% higher since 2020. All told, cars are a lot more expensive to operate and maintain.
Most And Least Expensive States To Own A Car
So where will you pay the most for car ownership? According to this survey, here are the ten most expensive states to own a car, in terms of yearly maintenance and operating costs:
- Wyoming ($6,327)
- Nevada ($6,315)
- Mississippi ($6,287)
- Missouri ($5,895)
- Michigan ($5,69)
- Georgia ($5,661)
- Kentucky ($5,493)
- South Carolina ($5,447)
- Louisiana ($5,385)
- Virginia ($5,359)
What makes some of these states more expensive? A number of factors. In many of these states, people drive a great deal more than in others. That means not only increased fuel and maintenance expenses, but also a higher likelihood of accidents that lead to repair costs and insurance claims.
Other factors come into play as well: for example, Michigan, which comes in at $5 on this list, has some of the highest car insurance rates in the country. Ross Martin at The Zebra has the hard numbers: the average car insurance premium in Michigan is $2,639 per year — 73% higher than the U.S. average, and the second most expensive state in the country for auto insurance coverage.
On top of that, states vary when it comes to things like property taxes for vehicles (which is a thing in some states, but not others), varying gas prices, and traffic levels. States with more denser traffic have a higher rate of accidents than big sprawling states with low traffic density, so the number of accidents tends to be lower, and vehicle costs with it.
So where are the least expensive states to own a car? Here are the “bottom ten” when it comes to the cost of car ownership:
- District of Columbia ($3,619)
- Alaska ($3,663)
- Pennsylvania ($3,785)
- Hawaii ($3,812)
- New Hampshire ($3,914)
- Illinois ($3,972)
- Ohio ($3,985)
- Washington ($4,038)
- Oregon ($4,164)
- South Dakota ($4,187)
Making Car Ownership Less Expensive
Regardless of where you happen to live, it’s never a bad idea to try cutting costs where you can, especially when inflation and rising costs are making it tougher than ever to make ends meet. Here are a few ways motorists can reduce their vehicle costs:
- Find ways to reduce your auto insurance premiums. There are a lot of ways you could accomplish this, starting with shopping around and comparing quotes using online tools. You could also take a defensive driving course, change your deductible, install anti-theft hardware on your car, and more.
- You may be able to save some money by buying a car out of state — but if you do, make sure you factor in things like transport costs and registration fees.
- If you still owe money on your vehicle, consider refinancing to get a better interest rate. Talk to your lender and see what your options are, or see about switching lenders to one who will offer you a better deal.
- Don’t neglect routine maintenance! Repair costs can be one of the most expensive aspects of vehicle ownership, and a lot of emergency repairs can be avoided by scheduling regular maintenance for things like fluids, brake pads, belts, and other vital components. Catching any potential issues early could save you a lot of money down the road.
Speaking of which, a great way to save even more money is to learn how to do certain small maintenance tasks on your own, such as changing the oil and things like wiper fluid, spark plugs, fuses, and lights. It’s probably best to leave the more critical maintenance tasks to a professional, but you can keep some money in your pocket by going DIY with small maintenance.