Most and least expensive states to own a car


The difference between the cheapest and costliest states for motorists amounts to more than $2,500 a year

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

It’s been well documented that astute shoppers can save thousands of dollars over the typical ownership period by choosing a car that’s inherently less costly to own, in terms of depreciation, insurance premiums, fuel economy and so on. And that’s not the half of it, as it turns out.

Better book the moving truck because, all else being equal, where one lives can likewise affect how much it costs to own a car, and by a surprising amount.

According to a recent study conducted by the personal finance website in Los Angeles, the difference between what drivers pay in the most expensive state for vehicle ownership (Michigan, at $15,314 over a three-year period) and the cheapest (New Hampshire, at $8,098) is a stunning average of $7,216.

That’s more than $2,400 a year, and that doesn’t include the cost of the car or financing its purchase.

“The common costs of owning a car outside of the car payment quickly add up — our survey found that the average costs of owning a car for three years is $11,227,” says Elyssa Kirkham, lead reporter on the study for GOBankingRates. “Typically, car owners should keep their costs low — around 15 percent of their income for the car payment, insurance, gas, and so on — which is trickier in states with higher car costs.”

The website’s rankings of the most and least expensive states in which to own a car are based upon state sales taxes, title and registration fees, average annual auto insurance premiums (via, average maintenance and repair costs based on local labor rates (from and annual gas expenses based on an average of local gas prices compiled from the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, assuming a driver fills up a 14-gallon tank once a week. Sales tax and title fees were counted once each, while recurring annual costs of registration, insurance premiums, gas expenses and car maintenance were each counted three times for three years.

Looking at the winners and sinners with regard to car costs, Michigan recently topped the charts in’s annual survey of auto insurance rates at an average $2,738 a year, compared to New Hampshire’s far more affordable $941 annual premium. California, the second highest state for car costs, leads the nation in fuel costs at an average $2.68 for regular grade gas as of this writing, according to the AAA.

Among the 10 states having the lowest overall costs, neither New Hampshire, Oregon, nor Alaska levy sales taxes on new-vehicle purchases.

The top 10 cheapest and costliest states for auto ownership are noted in the accompanying box; for a full list of all 50 states and their three-year averages, log onto

© CTW Features

10 costliest states for auto owners (over a three-year period)

  1. Michigan: $15,314
  2. California: $14,451
  3. District of Columbia: $13,561
  4. New Jersey: $13,484
  5. Florida: $13,211
  6. Maryland: $12,926
  7. Rhode Island: $12,596
  8. Montana: $12,764
  9. Nevada: $12,696
  10. Washington: $12,613

10 cheapest states for auto owners (over a 3-year period)

  1. New Hampshire: $8,098
  2. Missouri: $9,280
  3. North Carolina: $9,448
  4. Wisconsin: $9,571
  5. Ohio: $9,595
  6. Virginia: $9,603
  7. Oregon: $9,696
  8. Alaska: $9,814
  9. Maine: $9,866
  10. New Mexico: $9,923