The cost of owning a car varies widely around the country — and it’s not just because of gas prices. Repair costs are different, too, thanks to variations in car parts and labor costs.
And you’ll find huge differences in insurance premiums around the country. The average cost of an annual car insurance policy in Washington, D.C., for example, is $1,273. That’s enough for two years of coverage in Iowa.
“The number of accidents, severity of those accidents, litigation costs, medical costs and repair costs would cause insurance to be more expensive in one state than another,” says Jeanne Salvatore, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute.
So, all told, which states are the most expensive?
To find out, Bankrate ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia using three main criteria: repairs, insurance and gasoline. Labor and parts data were provided by CarMD.com, while gas spending was calculated with statistics from GasBuddy.com and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Insurance costs were compiled from National Association of Insurance Commissioners statistics.
Here are the five priciest states for car owners in ascending order.
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The Bankrate Daily
No. 5: New Jersey
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Annual cost: $2,421 per year (9 percent above the national average)
One reason drivers in the Garden State find themselves in the top five is they spend more than anyone else in the country on car repairs. New Jersey drivers pay an average of $393 on parts and labor, according to CarMD. That’s 11 percent more than the national average. Although labor rates in New Jersey are among the cheapest in the nation, drivers in the state spent 18 percent more than the average on parts.
Insurance companies also expect New Jersey drivers to pay hefty premiums. Between 2007 and 2011, the state’s car owners paid an average of $1,244 for auto insurance. That’s 41 percent more expensive than the five-year national average of $884.
The state’s gas pumps, at least, give drivers a break. Gasoline cost an average of $3.36 per gallon in New Jersey in 2013, well below prices seen in neighboring New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. People in New Jersey also drive less than most of their counterparts across the country. Cars in the Garden State typically cover 8,299 miles in a year. That’s 18 percent less than the average U.S. driver.
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No. 4: Mississippi
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Cost: $2,487 per year (12 percent above the national average)
It’s definitely not gas prices that have driven up the costs of owning a car in Mississippi. At an average of $3.27 per gallon, the state is second only to South Carolina for cheap gasoline.
But drivers in the state put a lot of miles on their vehicles each year. Mississippi drivers covered an average of 13,414 miles in their cars in 2010, according to the latest Bureau of Transportation Statistics data. That means vehicles there travel about 3,300 more miles than the average U.S. car or truck.
Compared with other states, the cost of repairing a car in Mississippi falls right in the middle. And insuring a vehicle in Mississippi is on par with the typical American driver. Mississippi drivers spend an average of $901 per year on car insurance, about $8 below the national average.
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No. 3: Florida
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Cost: $2,516 (13 percent above the national average)
Keep your eyes on the road in Florida: It’s the 10th most expensive state in the U.S. for car repair costs. When Floridians take their car to the shop, they pay about 10 percent more for parts than the typical U.S. vehicle owner.
Insurance is also pricey in Florida. Drivers in the state paid an average of $1,124 for their policies between 2007 and 2011, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That’s 27 percent more than the average U.S. vehicle owner paid over the same span of time.
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No. 2: Louisiana
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Cost: $2,555 (15 percent higher than the national average)
The Pelican State tops all others when it comes to pricey car insurance. The average Louisiana driver spent $1,277 on an annual policy between 2007 and 2011, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. For that kind of money, a typical U.S. driver could pay for 16 months of coverage and have enough money left over to buy a full tank of gas.
However, the price of gas is one of the few measures by which Louisiana beats most other states in terms of affordability. Residents paid an average of $3.29 for a gallon of regular gasoline in 2013, 6 percent less than the national average. Car repair costs in Louisiana keep pace with the national average. In fact, at $354 per year, spending on repairs in Louisiana is only 15 cents more than what the typical U.S. driver pays.
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No. 1: Wyoming
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Cost: $2,705 (22 percent higher than the national average)
Car repairs, gas prices and insurance all rank below average in Wyoming. What makes it the most expensive has more to do with the extreme distances that drivers travel within the Cowboy State.
Wyoming drivers put an average of 16,948 miles on their vehicles in a year. That’s a whopping 68 percent more miles than the typical car owner. Despite relatively low gas prices — they averaged $3.37 in 2013 — all those miles pushed the estimated amount spent on gas in a year up to $1,588, or 61 percent more than the typical U.S. driver.
The consolation prizes for Wyoming drivers: At an average of $792 per year, they pay 10 percent less in car insurance premiums than the typical U.S. driver. Car owners in Wyoming also pay below-average rates for labor and parts, making the average cost of repairs the seventh cheapest in the country.