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Where Do Americans Spend The Least On Cars? You'll Be Surprised

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Bundle.com driving expenses infographic

Bundle.com driving expenses infographic

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Where do people spend the least on their cars, gasoline, and getting around?

Surprisingly, among major cities, it's Detroit. Those in the Motor City know how to keep automotive costs down; Detroit residents spent a total of $2,124 on average in vehicle-related costs, including gas, topping even mass-transit-frequenting New Yorkers.

Locally, those in Scottsdale, Arizona spent the most on auto-related expenses ($6,682), while considering gasoline Austin topped the list ($10,128). Both Scottsdale and the state of Connecticut are known for having a rather high number of high-end import, classic and collector cars.

Those in Manhattan spent just $940 on gasoline and $1,542 on auto expenses annually.

But no matter where we are, we spend a very large chunk of what we make on cars and getting around. The social money-comparison site Bundle.com just released some very interesting findings that crunch the data locally as part of a series called "How America Spends."

The average U.S. household in 2009 spent $5,477 on combined auto expenses—that's $3,269 on maintenance and other expenses plus $2,208 on gasoline. According to Bundle, that's 14.5 percent of daily spending, and more than the average person spends on groceries or utilities, and well more than things like travel, hobbies, and even clothes.

Oklahoma residents spend the most on gas—indicating that commute distances are long, or vehicles aren't as fuel-efficient—while those in Connecticut spend the most on automotive maintenance.

Driving alone is pricey

Bundle finds a few answers, and it doesn't simply come down to what type of vehicles we drive, by region, or how far we commute. Hawaiians, it says, are second only to New Yorkers in having the lowest percentage of commuters who drive alone—a very effective method of reducing expenses.

Applying that observation on a national level, the more people drive to work alone, the more automotive-related spending. In Alabama, 83 percent commute alone in their vehicles, and residents of that state shed 16.3 percent of their household budget for auto expenses. As long as commute distances can be in California, 27 percent don't drive to work alone, and that's one of the main reasons why the state isn't among the top states in auto spending.

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Comments (6)
  1. As my dad used to say, your car is the second most expensive purchase behind a house. That is still true. It is hard to find a good group with whom to carpool although it is certainly a way to save.
     
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  2. Nice comparisons. I would really love to see an in-depth comparison to someone who commutes mostly by public transportation or other means (bike, feet, etc). I certainly save on gas, maintenance, and insurance by not owning a car ($0/year), but how does a car driver in my area compare with my other costs: cabs, buses, bike tires, gas for friends?
     
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  3. Interesting browsing through that infographic. A lot of the cities that pride themselves in being so eco-friendly (Austin?) are spending just as much on cars and driving as the rest of us.
     
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  4. Interesting stuff! I wonder if green cars are a factor on this level at this point ?
     
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  5. Austin talks a good talk but the walk is very short. I'm wondering what area the survey takes in as it's 40 miles to Austin from here and is a required drive to shop anyplace besides WalMart or for serious medical treatment so a simple trip to Austin is generally a 100 mile round trip when you add in the running around while in the city's area.
     
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  6. Bengt, I have to say I AM surprised. Thanks for the info!
     
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