Automotive Misery Index measures cost of car ownership

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The cost of auto insurance varies greatly by geographic region. Image: TheTruthAbout/Flickr/CC BY-SA

The expense of owning a car has just begun when you drive off the dealer’s lot. That is true even if you bought that sweet ride with cash. And keeping her fueled and legal over her lifetime differs by region, according to the new Automotive Misery Index.

Cost weighed in Automotive Misery Index

There is a vast difference in the cost of owning an auto, Brooklyn to Tuscon. Insurance and fuel costs vary greatly from region to region.

A new report by measures the geographical fluctuations of vehicle ownership costs by state. Its Automotive Misery Index determines rankings by comparing each state’s average household income against its average miles driven, cost of fuel and price of full-coverage insurance for a 2012 Honda Accord EX. managing editor Des Toups explained in a press release:

“A new Honda Accord costs pretty much the same in Bakersfield or Biloxi. But keeping it on the road will hurt a lot more in Mississippi.”

Mississippi ranked the highest on the 2012 Automotive Misery Index. The lowest ranking — or least costly — state was determined to be New Hampshire.

Toups continued:

“Mississippi is a rural state, so people drive a lot. It also has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers, which makes car insurance that much more expensive.”

Meanwhile, New Hampshire has an average income more than 50 percent higher than in Mississippi. Its smaller area and denser population also makes for shorter commutes.

Data sources

The study, conducted by Quadrant Information Services, derived its household income numbers from the 2010 census. The annual mileage figures per driver came from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The average insurance rates were derived by averaging the costs of six different carriers in 10 zip codes from each states.

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Less Misérables

Here are the states with lowest Misery Index (least expensive):

Rank    State        Gas/Insurance   Income      Misery Index
1    New Hampshire    $2,932                 $65,948      4.40 percent
2    Alaska                      $2,765                 $60,409     4.60 percent
3    Connecticut            $3,266                 $66,187      4.90 percent
4    Colorado                 $2,955                 $58,647      5.00 percent
5    Washington            $2,976                 $58,821      5.10 percent
6    Massachusetts       $3,087                 $60,843     5.10 percent
7    New Jersey             $3,301                 $64,693      5.10 percent
8    Maryland                $3,347                 $64,635     5.20 percent

Most Misérables

Here are the states with highest Misery Index (most expensive):

Rank    State        Gas/Insurance     Income      Misery Index
42    Arkansas              $3,411                   $37,856      9.00 percent
43    Kentucky              $3,860                 $42,302      9.10 percent
44    Wyoming             $4,828                 $52,848      9.10 percent
45    Michigan             $4,274                   $46,597      9.20 percent
46    Georgia                $4,268                  $44,082     9.70 percent
47    Montana              $4,005                  $41,286      9.70 percent
48    West Virginia     $4,292                  $41,999      10.20 percent
49    Louisiana            $4,504                  $42,813      10.50 percent
50    Oklahoma           $4,816                  $45,018      10.70 percent
51    Mississippi          $4,277                  $36,821       11.60 percent

The study seems to ignore costs of repairs and regular maintenance, which of course jacks the costs up even more.

According to the study, however, the lower the state’s average income, the more expensive it is to own a car there. How ironic is that?


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