Cost Of US Car Ownership: Georgia Tops The List; Oregon At The Bottom; New Jersey Tops For Insurance

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Any penny-wise person will tell you that cars are the worst investments. A car loses up to 20 percent of its value every year from the moment the label is peeled off the window; it’s one of the main reasons why leasing has become so popular. Meanwhile, a car is a money pit that gets deeper and wider over time as the vehicle starts to break down.

The latest research on the cost of owning a car points to the southern state of Georgia as the costliest place in America to own a car as well as pay taxes and fees on it, according to research from Bankrate.com. Leafy Oregon is the most car-owner friendly, bottoming the list on taxes and ranking low on annual cost of insurance, too. 

Bankrate took recent data from National Association of Insurance Commissioners, CarMD.com, Kelley Blue Book and GasBuddy.com to extrapolate the national average annual cost for the four expenses related to car ownership. This is what they found:

Repairs: $353 
Taxes/Fees: $1,058
Gasoline: $1,028
Insurance: $762
TOTAL: $3,201

Georgia was the only state in the country that topped $4,000, at $4,233; 46 percent of that, or $1,952, came from taxes and fees. Compare that to Oregon, where the average vehicle taxes with fees costs a mere $157, or less than four Starbucks Frappuccinos a month.

The wide swings on taxes and fees from state to state basically boils down to this: All states need tax revenue, so wherever they give breaks to taxpayers, they have to make up for that somewhere. For example, if a state has low property taxes, they may make up the difference by taxing drivers more.

“States with no or low income tax rates tend to have higher taxes and fees,” Claes Bell, senior analyst for Bankrate.com, told International Business Times. “It’s easier to raise taxes on drivers than to raise taxes on everyone. I think every state has a tax burden mixed differently. Sales tax is also a big factor.”

The cost of insurance also had wide swings, depending on which state a car is registered in. North Dakota has the cheapest annual car insurance premium, $517, while New Jersey topped the list, at $1,119.

For obvious reasons, insurance costs vary based on the statistical likelihood of owners filing claims. (Florida is particularly litigious.) Other factors based on state laws can affect prices, too. New York state, for example, requires insurance for both property damage and medical expenses for so-called bodily damage image liability. “Some states are no-fault states -- that would cause higher premiums,” said Bell, referring to insurance contracts that cover losses regardless of who’s at fault.

Population density is also a factor. Sparcely populated states like the Dakotas and Iowa have low premiums, so you want to save hundreds on insurance, don’t go to the gecko; move as far away from other cars as possible.

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