Study finds most expensive, least expensive states to own a car

(March 21, 2016) LOS ANGELES — There's a $7,216 cost difference between owning a car in Michigan and New Hampshire according to a new study from personal finance website The study considered the costs of six key factors affecting the expenses of owning a vehicle in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Outside of the sticker price of purchasing or financing a new set of wheels, evaluated the following expenses to generate a national ranking:

    Car sales tax
    Title fees
    Registration fees
    Average annual car insurance premiums
    Annual gas expenses
    Average car maintenance and repair costs

"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," said 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."

Additional Insights:

    • New Hampshire, Oregon, Alaska and Montana are the only states that don't levy sales tax on vehicle purchases

    • Missouri's average gas price of $1.59 per gallon is the lowest in the nation

    • These western states claim the highest gas prices in the country: Hawaii, California, Alaska, Nevada, and Washington.

    • 8 of the 10 least expensive states to own a car are coastal states.

Methodology: To generate these rankings, GOBankingRates surveyed and totaled the cost of buying and owning a car for three years in all 50 states and D.C. This total included six key car expenses:

    Car sales tax, based on rates provided by and calculated on the average car transaction amount of $33,543 in August 2015 as reported by the Kelley Blue Book.

    Title fees, as reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    Registration fees, as reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures, calculated annually.

    Average annual car insurance premiums, sourced from's 2016 report on car insurance rates by state.

    Annual gas expenses, based on an average of historical regular gas prices in each state sourced from AAA's Fuel Gauge Report. The expense was calculated based on the assumption of a driver filling up a 14-gallon tank once a week.

    Average car maintenance and repair costs in each state, sourced from CarMD's 2014 State Repair Cost Rankings.

For title and registration fees are based on car statistics, GOBankingRates assumed a car value of $33,543, an average weight of 4,000 pounds and a model year of 2014. Car sales tax and title fee were counted once each, while recurring annual costs of registration fees, insurance premiums, gas expenses and car maintenance were each counted three times for three years.

This generated the total costs of buying and owning a car in each state, and states were ranked according to this total to find the least and most expensive.