What is the cost to drive? All you need to know.

man driving a car

Driving a vehicle can be a convenient and efficient way to get around, but it can also be costly. From purchasing a vehicle and paying for fuel to maintaining it and obtaining insurance, there are many expenses to consider when it comes to driving. In this article, I'll take a closer look at the various costs of driving and how you can save money on each one.

  1. Vehicle purchase price: The cost of buying a car can vary widely depending on the make and model, as well as factors such as the age of the vehicle and its condition. New cars tend to be more expensive than used ones, and luxury models generally have a higher price tag than basic models.

  2. Fuel costs: Gas prices fluctuate, but they can make up a significant portion of the cost of driving. The type of vehicle you drive can also impact fuel costs, as some models are more fuel-efficient than others.

  3. Maintenance: Regular maintenance is important for keeping your vehicle in good working order and extending its lifespan. This can include things like oil changes, tire rotations, and tune-ups, as well as more extensive repairs like replacing the brakes or transmission.

  4. Insurance: Car insurance is required by law in most states and can be a significant expense. The cost of insurance can vary based on factors such as the age and make of the vehicle, your driving record, and where you live.

  5. Registration and licensing: In addition to insurance, you'll also need to register your vehicle and obtain a driver's license. These costs can vary depending on the state you live in and the type of vehicle you own.

  6. Tolls and parking fees: Depending on where you live and drive, you may incur tolls or parking fees on a regular basis. These costs can add up, so it's a good idea to plan ahead and budget for them.

  7. Depreciation: All vehicles depreciate over time, which means they lose value as they age. This can be a significant cost if you plan to sell or trade in your vehicle in the future.

  8. Financing: If you finance your vehicle through a loan, you'll need to pay interest on the amount you borrow. This can add to the overall cost of driving.

  9. Roadside assistance: Some drivers choose to purchase roadside assistance, which can provide help in the event of a breakdown or other emergency. This can be an added expense, but it can also provide peace of mind.

  10. Alternative transportation costs: While driving can be convenient, it's not always the most cost-effective option. Depending on where you live and how frequently you need to travel, it may be more economical to use alternative modes of transportation such as public transportation or carpooling.

How much does it cost to buy a car?

The cost of buying a car can vary widely depending on the make and model, as well as other factors such as the age of the vehicle and its condition. New cars tend to be more expensive than used ones, and luxury models generally have a higher price tag than basic models. In addition, the location where you live can impact the cost of a vehicle, as prices may be higher in certain regions. It's a good idea to do your research and shop around to find the best deal on a car that meets your needs.

The average cost for a new vehicle in the United States in 2021 is $42,380.

How much does fuel cost and how does it impact the cost of driving?

Fuel costs can make up a significant portion of the cost of driving. Gas prices fluctuate, but they can have a big impact on your budget if you're driving a lot. The type of vehicle you drive can also impact fuel costs, as some models are more fuel-efficient than others. To save money on fuel, you can try driving more efficiently by avoiding rapid acceleration and braking, maintaining a steady speed, and using the highest possible gear. You can also compare prices at different gas stations and consider using a fuel rewards program to save money on gas.

How much does vehicle maintenance cost and how can it be minimized?

Regular maintenance is important for keeping your vehicle in good working order and extending its lifespan. This can include things like oil changes, tire rotations, and tune-ups, as well as more extensive repairs like replacing the brakes or transmission. The cost of maintenance can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as how frequently you have it serviced. To minimize maintenance costs, it's a good idea to follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule and address any issues as soon as they arise. You can also shop around for the best prices on parts and labor and consider using a service center that offers discounts for repeat customers.

How much does car insurance cost and how can I find the best rates?

Car insurance is required by law in most states and can be a significant expense. The cost of insurance can vary based on factors such as the age and make of the vehicle, your driving record, and where you live. To find the best rates on car insurance, it's a good idea to shop around and compare quotes from multiple insurers. You can also consider raising your deductible or dropping certain coverage options to lower your premiums. It's also a good idea to review your policy regularly and make sure you're not paying for coverage you no longer need.

How much do registration and licensing fees cost?

In addition to insurance, you'll also need to register your vehicle and obtain a driver's license. These costs can vary depending on the state you live in and the type of vehicle you own. In general, registration fees are based on the age and value of the vehicle, while licensing fees are based on the length of time you need the license. To save money on registration and licensing fees, it's a good idea to renew your registration and license on time and take advantage of any discounts that may be available.

Information taken from Compare.com

Vehicle Registration, Tax, Insurance and Title Fees
State Registration Fee License Plate Fee Average Insurance Cost Title Fee Dealer Documentation Fees Personal Property Tax / Vehicle License Fee State Vehicle Sales Tax Air Quality / Emissions Inspection Other
Alabama $15-$23 + $50 annually $23 and $1.25 transfer $723 $18 No limit N/A 2% N/A N/A
Alaska $100 $5 transfer $872 $15 no limit; must be incl. in vehicle price N/A N/A N/A $15 lien recording
Arizona $8 + $32 Public Safety Fee $12 transfer $844 $4 (for new vehicles) No limit $2.80(new vehicles)/$2.89(used vehicles) for each $100 of the assessed value 5.6% $1.50 N/A
Arkansas $17-$30 $1 transfer $736 $10 $129 cap Varies by county 6.5% N/A $2.50 decal fee; 50-cent lien filing fee; extra $100 annual fee for registering a hybrid vehicle and $200 for an EV
California $64 plus extra fees like CHP and Transportation Improvement $23 $841 $23 $80 cap .65% of value, decreasing over time 7.5% $8 smog transfer fee $100 EV fee;$27 CHP fee
Colorado Based on weight $25 $857 $7.20 No limit 3-2.1% of value, based on age 2.9% $$15-$25 emissions test fee $50 annual fee for plug-in vehicles
Connecticut $120 for a new registration, $80 to renew for two years $5 $1,049 $25 No limit Based on 70% of retail value 6.35%-7.75% $10 clean air fee;$40 Emissions Exemption fee $10 admin fee; $10 parks fee; $10 lien fee; $15 parks fee; $40 Emissions Exemption fee; $10 Greenhouse Gas fee
Delaware $40 N/A $1,146 $35 4.25% of purchase price or NADA book value, whichever is greater N/A N/A N/A N/A
Florida $14.50-$32.50; $225 for new vehicle fee $28 for new plates; $7.35 transfer $1,185 $75.25-$85.25 No limit N/A 6% N/A N/A
Georgia $20 N/A $897 $18 No limit Annual ad valorem tax for vehicles purchased before 3/12/13 6.6% title ad valorem tax (TAVT); 3% for new Georgia residents $25 emissions inspection in Atlanta area $200 annual alternative-fuel fee
Hawaii Based on weight ($12 minimum) $5 $765 $5 No limit Based on weight 4.166% to 4.712% N/A $1 beautification fee; 50-cent emblem renewal
Idaho $45-$69, depending on vehicle age N/A $574 $14 No limit N/A 6% of value or purchase price $11 emissions inspection (Kuna and Canyon County) $140 annual EV fee;$75 plug-in hybrid fee; $5 VIN inspection
Illinois $151 N/A $804 $150 $300 N/A 6.25% and up N/A $251 annual EV fee
Indiana $21.35 $9.50 $666 $15 No limit N/A 7% N/A Transportation Infrastructure Improvement Fee of $15; excise tax of $12-$532;$150 EV fee; $50 hybrid fee
Iowa Up to 1% of list price, depending on age; plus $0.40 per hundred pounds of vehicle weight N/A $666 $25 for replacement No limit N/A N/A N/A $65 annual EV fee; $32.50 annual plug-in hybrid fee (both rise each year)
Kansas $39-$49(depends on county) N/A $698 $10 No limit Varies by county 7.5% and up N/A $20 inspection fee for new title
Kentucky $21 N/A $802 $6 No limit 45 cents per $100 of value 6% N/A $22 lien filing fee
Louisiana $20-$82 depending on value $3 transfer $1,232 $68.50 $200 cap N/A 4% N/A Use taxes set by parish/county
Maine $35 N/A $618 $33 No limit Annual excise tax (depends on age of vehicle) 5.5% N/A N/A
Maryland $135-$187 (depending on weight) for two years $10 transfer $1,017 $100 $300 cap N/A 6% $14 emissions inspection $14.50 annual EMS fee
Massachusetts $60 for two years $25 transfer; $10 replacement $1,059 $75 No limit $25 per $1000 of excise value 6.25% $35 emissions/inspection fee
Michigan Based on vehicle value or weight depending on age $5 $1,231 $15 $220 cap; can’t exceed 5% of vehicle price N/A 6% N/A $135-$235 annual EV fee;$47.50-$117.50 hybrid fee
Minnesota $35 and up, based on vehicle value $8 (double plates) $788 $20.50 (with tax and technology surcharge) $125 N/A 6.5% N/A $10 and up wheelage tax; $75 annual EV fee
Mississippi $12.75 for renewals, $14 for first time registrations N/A $827 $9 No limit Ad valorem taxes based on vehicle value and county 5% N/A %150 EV fee; $75 hybrid fee
Missouri $18.75 and up (based on taxable horsepower) plus processing fee of $6-12 N/A $745 $8.50 No limit N/A 4.225% $24 (St. Louis area only) $75 annual fee for alt-fuel vehicles; $37.50 for plug-in hybrids
Montana $30.57-$225.24, based on vehicle age, plus a 3% fee $10.30 $693 $10.30 No limit N/A None N/A County option tax based on vehicle value; $10 Montana Highway Patrol fee
Nebraska $15 (+ $5.50 in additional fees) $3.30 per plate $682 $10 No limit Motor Vehicle Tax based on vehicle value 5.5.% N/A $5-$30 motor vehicle fee; $75 alt-fuel fee; $7 lien fee
Nevada $33 $8 $985 $28.25 No limit Governmental Services Tax based on vehicle value 8.1% $50-$79 Supplemental Governmental Services Tax based on vehicle value
New Hampshire $31.20 and up based on type and weight plus $10 transfer fee plus local fees $8 +$15 new registration fee $775 $25 No limit N/A none Included in inspection cost Local fees based on age and value of vehicle
New Jersey $35.50-$84 based on weight and age of vehicle $6 $1,266 $60 or $85 with lien No limit N/A 6.625% No charge N/A
New Mexico $27-$62 based on weight and age of vehicle N/A $763 Included ($5) No limit N/A 4% $15-$25 (Bernalillo County only) N/A
New York $26-$140 (based on weight) for 2 years $25 $1,235 $50 $75 cap N/A 4% $11-$27 Vehicle use tax/MCTD fees (NYC and some counties)
North Carolina $38.75 $21.50 to transfer $655 $56 No limit Vehicle Property Tax based on value and locality Highway use tax of 3% of vehicle value (max. $250 for new) $16.40 for some vehicles/counties $130 EVE fee; regional transportation tax in some counties
North Dakota $49-$274 based on age and weight $5 transfer $638 $5 No limit N/A N/A 5% N/A
Ohio $31 $6 transfer; $13.25 replacement $703 $15 $250 or 10% of the sales contract price whichever is less N/A 5.75% No charge $100 annual fee for hybrid car; $200 fee for EV; optional $5 permissive tax in some counties
Oklahoma $96 for a new registration; decrease over time N/A $824 $11 plus $17 transfer fee No limit N/A 1.25% N/A Excise tax of 3.25% for a new vehicle; for used cars, $20 on the 1st $1,500 of value + 3.25% of the remainder; $10 lien processing fee
Oregon $122-$152 depending on model year and MPG $24.50, $6 to transfer $828 $98-$113 depending on model year and MPG $115-$150 max N/A 0.5% privilege tax on new vehicle purchases $10 in Medford, $21 in Portland $110 annual fee for plug-in hybrid vehicles
Pennsylvania $39 N/A $878 $55 $120-$144 N/A 6% (7% for residents of Allegheny Count and 8% for Philadelphia residents) Included in inspection cost $26 lien fee
Rhode Island $30 for up to 4000lbs (increases based on weight) + $15 surcharge $8 $1,148 $52.50 No limit Excise tax based on vehicle value 7% Included in $55 inspection cost N/A
South Carolina $40 N/A $854 $15 No limit Annual personal property tax based on vehicle value 5% Infrastructure Maintenance Fee ($500 max) N/A $46-$116 Gross Vehicle Weight Fee; $250 infrastructure fee if transferring registration; $60 biennial hybrid fee; $120 biennial EV fee
South Dakota $36-144 based on weight $5 transfer $616 $10 No limit N/A 4% N/A Wheel tax (varies by county)
Tennessee $26.50 N/A $738 $95 (includes plate fee) N/A N/A 7% $9 $100 annual EV fee; wheel tax (varies by county)
Texas $51.75 plus local fees N/A $934 $28-33 (Varies by County If over $150 dealer must notify the state N/A 6.25% on new vehicles Varies by County $90 tax when moving vehicle to Texas
Utah $44 for up to 12k pounds; $69.50 for over 12k pounds + $19 for each 2k pounds over 14k N/A $784 $6 No limit Uniform fee due annually based on vehicle age Varies by city Usually $20-$30 EV and hybrid fees (increase each year)
Vermont $76 for 1 year; $140 for 2 years N/A $680 $35 No limit N/A 6% Varies by city N/A
Virginia $30.75 for less than 4,000 pounds; $35.75 for over 4,000 pounds N/A $751 $15 No limit Personal property tax set by localities 4.15% of sales price, minimum charge $75 $28 max $64 annual EV fee
Washington $68.25-115.25 based on weight $10 per plate $884 $15 $150 N/A Varies by county, plus 0.3% motor vehicle sales/use tax $15 $75 hybrid fee, $150 annual EV fee
Washington D.C. $72-$155 based on weight $12 transfer $1,190 $26 No limit N/A 6-8% excise tax based on weight. Some vehicles may be exempted. $10 N/A
West Virginia $51.50 $10 replacement $855 $15 No limit Personal property tax set by localities 6% titling sales tax on vehicles over $500 N/A $200 annual EV fee, $100 plug-in hybrid fee; $10 lien fee
Wisconsin $85 $4 $665 $164.50 No limit N/A 5% No charge $10-$30 wheel tax (varies by county);$100 annual EV fee, $75 hybrid fee
Wyoming $30+ (varies by county) N/A $657 $15 No limit N/A 4% N/A $200 EV fee

Use this calculator to help calculate your trip cost

Cost of Driving Calculator



Beverage Cost Calories Ease of Acquiring
Water $1 0 Easy
Milk $2 122 Easy
Orange juice $3 112 Easy
Apple juice $2 110 Easy
Grape juice $3 150 Easy
Tea $1 2 Easy
Coffee $1 2 Easy
Soda $2 150 Easy
Energy drink $3 100 Easy
Smoothie $5 250 Moderate


Average cost of fruits on a driving trip


Fruit Cost Calories Ease of Acquiring
Apple $1 95 Easy
Banana $0.50 105 Easy
Orange $0.75 85 Easy
Strawberry $2 50 Moderate
Grapes $2 90 Moderate
Pineapple $3 80 Difficult
Mango $3 99 Difficult
Peach $1.50 39 Moderate
Plum $1 30 Moderate

Average cost of snacks on a driving trip


Snack Cost Calories Ease of Acquiring
Chips $2 150 Easy
Popcorn $1 110 Easy
Cookies $2 200 Easy
Pretzels $1 110 Easy
Crackers $2 150 Easy
Granola bar $1 110 Easy
Trail mix $3 250 Easy
Peanuts $2 180 Easy
M&M's $1 110 Easy
Gummy bears $2 120 Easy

Helpful table on some vehicle expenses


State Vehicle purchase price Average fuel costs Maintenance Average insurance cost per month Depreciation Financing Roadside assistance Tolls and parking fees
California $30,000 $3.50/gallon $100/month $150/month $1,000/year $200/month $50/year $100/month
Texas $25,000 $2.75/gallon $75/month $100/month $800/year $150/month $40/year $75/month
New York $35,000 $3.25/gallon $125/month $200/month $1,200/year $250/month $60/year $125/month



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Conclusion

Driving a vehicle can be a convenient and efficient way to get around, but it's important to be aware of the various costs associated with it. By understanding these costs and taking steps to minimize them, you can save money and make driving more affordable. This can include things like shopping around for the best insurance rates, maintaining your vehicle regularly, and considering alternative modes of transportation.

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