Repair costs vary widely by state.

They’re only hours apart – separated by a single state in-between, but when it comes to the cost of owning and operating a car, Wyoming and Iowa might as well be on different planets.

When you factor in such annual costs as gasoline, insurance and repairs, the typical Wyoming driver will spend about $2,705. In Iowa, the figure is a far more reasonable $1.942 annually, according to a new study by the financial services website Bankrate.com.

The results of the new study might come as a surprise, particularly with relatively sparse Wyoming landing at the top of the list – above more urban states such as New York, New Jersey and California. In fact, the Golden State wound up closer to the middle of the list of 50 states and Washington, D.C. At an annual cost of $2,237, California motorists are laying out just slightly more than the $2,223 national average, according to the Bankrate study.

Several factors seem to unite the most expensive states.  With only a few exceptions, they’re big, with motorists tending to drive a lot.  Wyoming actually has below average costs for car repairs and insurance – and for gasoline, but its drivers have whopping fuel bills, average $1,588 annually, because the state’s motorists 68% clock 68% more miles than the average American driver.

(Is it better to buy or lease? And are there other alternatives? Click Here to find out.)

Wyoming had the second-highest automotive operating costs a year ago, but jumped to the top for 2014, nudging past last year’s “winner,” Georgia – which fell to sixth place this time.

The Six Most Expensive States:

  • Wyoming, at $2,705 – with an average $324 in repairs, $792 in insurance and $1,588 for gas;
  • Louisiana, at $2,555 – including $354 in repairs, $1,277 in insurance and $924 for fuel;
  • Florida, at $2,516 – including $377 for repairs, $1,124 for insurance and $1,015 for fuel;
  • Mississippi, at $2,487 – including $356 for repairs, $901 for insurance and $1,231 for fuel;
  • New Jersey, at $2,421 – including $393 for repairs, $1,244 for insurance, and $783 for fuel;
  • Georgia, at $2,408 – averaging $385 for repairs, $927 for insurance, and $1,096 for gas.

(Americans can’t agree on how to pay to fix the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. Click Here for the story.)

Even the Garden State’s relatively cheap fuel couldn’t offset its high repair and insurance costs. In fact, motorists in all six of the lowest-cost states pay more for gas – an average $1,056 annually in sixth-ranked South Dakota, for example. But they tend to have lower repair and insurance bills. Notably, all six are located in the Midwest.

The Six Lowest-Cost States:

  • Iowa, at just $1,942 – including $315 for repairs, $630 for insurance and $998 for fuel;
  • Ohio, at $1,973 – averaging $328 for repairs, $698 for insurance, and $947 for fuel;
  • Illinois, at $1,999 – including $343 for repairs, $805 for insurance, and $852 for gas;
  • Idaho, at $2,001 – including $349 for repairs, $664 for insurance and $988 for fuel;
  • Wisconsin, at $2,018 – including $329 for repairs, $658 for insurance and $1,031 for fuel;
  • South Dakota, at $2022 – including $312 for repairs, $654 for insurance and $1,056 for fuel.

(For the full list of states, Click Here.)

Bankrate’s study included the cost of gasoline, repairs and insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It didn’t factor in some other expenses, such as replacement tires – or depreciation.

In May, AAA issued its own annual guide to the cost of ownership, and working in those factors bumped the U.S. average to $8,876 annually. But there was some good news to the forecast for 2014, the road service and travel organization actually anticipating costs will decline 2.7% for the average motorist.

“A large decrease in fuel costs, and lower tire, insurance and depreciation expenses are saving owners more than one and a half cents on every mile they drive,” said John Nielsen, AAA Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.

 

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