Ohio among cheapest states to drive cars

Ohio is the 10th least expensive state in which to own an automobile, and Ohioans on average spend about 12 percent less annually on car costs than drivers nationwide, according to a new Bankrate.com report.

Ohio drivers can thank cheap car repairs and auto insurance for lower-than-average expenses.

Ohioans also drive slightly less than residents in other states, which can help reduce auto bills.

“Ohio looked really good in our rankings,” said Claes Bell, a senior analyst with Bankrate, a financial information company based in North Palm Beach, Fla. “They were below average on nearly every single (cost) measure, particularly auto insurance.”

Ohioans on average spend $2,810 annually on auto costs, $391 less than the national average, according to Bankrate.

Only nine other states have lower costs, and the cheapest states are Oregon ($2,204 annually) and Alaska ($2,227). The most expensive states were Georgia ($4,233) and California ($3,966).

Oregon lacks a state sales tax, and car insurance costs are relatively low in the state, Bankrate said. Drivers in Oregon also on average drive 16 percent fewer miles than U.S. drivers.

In Georgia, a lack of public transportation and Atlanta’s urban sprawl means drivers often have long commutes, the report said. Georgia has the highest state auto taxes and fees in the nation, and it has higher than average gas costs and insurance rates.

In Ohio, the largest expense involved in auto ownership is fuel.

Motorists in the state on average spend $975 annually filling up their gas tanks, which was only a little less than the national average, $1,028.

Other significant costs include auto insurance ($627 annually) and taxes and fees ($879). Ohio has the 11th lowest auto insurance rates, and the 17th lowest taxes and fees, the report said.

Auto insurance rates remain relatively low in the state even though the state’s 10 largest private-passenger auto insurers last year on average increased rates by 4.1 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Auto insurance rates are affected by medical costs, weather-related claims, the number of cars on state roads and repairs costs, the department said.

Meanwhile, annual car repairs in Ohio run about $328 per year, cheaper than all but nine other states. Repair costs are cheaper than many states out west — which have the highest repair bills — because the weather in Ohio is not as harsh and state roads are in better shape, according to information from CarMD.com, a California-based company.

Ohioans also have shorter commutes than residents in many states — such as California — and shorter trips mean car problems usually are cheaper and easier to fix.

Ohioans on average drive 9,693 miles per year, 4 percent less than drivers nationally, said Bell, with Bankrate.

“Ohioans drive a little bit less and maybe use public transit more,” he said. “Maybe they live closer to where they work, because obviously you have some big urban centers in Ohio.”

Driving less is one of the best bets to cut down on auto costs, and Ohioans can reduce how much they are behind the wheel by participating in car pools, moving closer to work and consolidating errands into fewer trips, Bell said.

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