Auto Loans

The Most & Least Expensive States for Owning a Car

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The average Iowa driver spends about $315 a year in auto repairs and $630 annually for insurance, helping make it the cheapest state to operate a vehicle, according to a recent Bankrate report. Drivers in other states aren’t quite that lucky.

Drivers in the Midwest have some of the lowest annual vehicle expenses, based on insurance, repair and fuel costs in the state. Bankrate used labor and parts data from CarMD.com; calculated fuel spending based on data from GasBuddy.com and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics; and determined insurance costs using data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Least Expensive States to Operate a Vehicle

5. Wisconsin: $2,018 a year
Average annual car repair cost: $329
Average annual insurance cost: $658
Average annual fuel cost: $1,031

4. Idaho: $2,001
Car repairs: $349
Insurance: $664
Fuel: $988

3. Illinois: $1,999
Car repairs: $343
Insurance: $805
Fuel: $852

2. Ohio: $1,973
Car repairs: $328
Insurance: $698
Fuel: $947

1. Iowa: $1,942
Car repairs: $315
Insurance: $630
Fuel: $998

Most Expensive States to Operate a Vehicle

5. New Jersey: $2,421
Car repairs: $393
Insurance: $1,244
Fuel: $783

4. Mississippi: $2,487
Car repairs: $356
Insurance: $901
Fuel: $1,231

3. Florida: $2,516
Car repairs: $377
Insurance: $1,124
Fuel: $1,015

2. Louisiana: $2,555
Car repairs: $354
Insurance: $1,277
Fuel: $924

1. Wyoming: $2,705
Car repairs: $324
Insurance: $792
Fuel: $1,588

Your personal experience with the cost of owning a car will depend on a lot more than just the state you live in and average insurance, repair and gas prices there, but it’s a good benchmark. More than anything, how often you use the car will dictate the expense, which is possibly reflected in the rankings of expensive states for owning a car: Wyoming takes the honor as most expensive state, driven by gasoline costs. By land area, Wyoming is the 10th largest state, but it has the fewest residents (the District of Columbia has more people). Things are spread out in Wyoming, requiring a lot of time on the road.

At the same time, costs can vary widely within a state. Consider Illinois, one of the least expensive states to operate a car: A driver in Chicago is likely to pay considerably more for vehicle-related expenses than someone in living in Peoria. On that note, no matter your state, if you live in a large city, the costs of having a car will probably be higher because there’s limited space, etc.

Things like parking and taxes weren’t factored into Bankrate’s list, but those are things to consider when deciding to buy and operate a car where you live. Your credit standing can also have a significant impact on what you pay for having a car, because it can affect the cost of your auto loan, and in many states, having poor credit can increase your auto insurance premiums. You should always check your credit standing before buying a car or applying for insurance, and you can see where you stand by checking two of your scores for free on Credit.com.

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