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Personal Finance > Autos

Costliest places to own a car
Where you live can add thousands of dollars a year to the cost of owning a car.
September 16, 2004: 4:35 PM EDT
By Les Christie, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - It costs a whopping $11,114 a year to keep a new car running in the Motor City, a total of $44,456 for the first four years of ownership. That makes Detroit the most expensive city in America in which to own a car.

That's according to a new report by Runzheimer International, a management consultant specializing in transportation reimbursement.

In contrast, the same car would cost just $7,131 a year in Sioux Falls, S.D., a savings of almost $16,000 over four years.

"For the individual driver, it's helpful to calculate your annual vehicle expenses to allow you to budget and plan accordingly," states Lee Czarapata, director of client relations of business vehicle services. "For organizations that reimburse dozens or even hundreds of employees who operate their personal vehicles on business, establishing accurate driving costs becomes critical."

Insurance accounted for the lion's share of the difference between the costs of having a new car in different U.S. cities. Detroiters pay $4,540 a year for liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. In the second most expensive city on the list, Los Angeles, car owners pay just $2,987 for insurance and a total of $10,016. In Sioux Falls, the insurance bill comes to just $923 a year. The list does not include all major U.S. cities.

Other expensive locales included Hempstead, N.Y., at $9,880; San Francisco, at $9,454; and Newark, at $9,214.

Place Annual cost
Detroit $11,114
Los Angeles $10,016
Hempstead, N.Y. $9,880
New Orleans $8,957
St. Louis $8,600
Buffalo, N.Y. $8,286
Atlanta $8,039
Topeka, Kas. $7,845
Fort Meyers, Fla. $7,747
Portland, Ore. $7,485
Knoxville, Tenn. $7,176
Sioux Falls, S.D. $7,131

Competing with Sioux Falls for least expensive city were Grand Forks, N.D., at $7,150; Knoxville, Tenn., at $7,176; and Cincinnati, $7,271.

The survey covered various expenses of car ownership -- fuel, oil, tires, insurance, depreciation, taxes, as well as fixed costs like license, inspection, and registration fees -- but not random items such as parking fees and fines for tickets. They were figured using a 2005 Ford Taurus sedan with features such as air conditioning, auto transmission, speed control and anti-lock brakes.

Another big variable was cost of maintaining the car. Based on 15,000 a year for four years, maintenance costs in Hempstead will run 5.98 cents a mile compared with 4.65 cents in Knoxvillle.  Top of page

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