By Kirsten Korosec
April 10, 2018

Driving a car is more expensive than ever with owners shelling out thousands of dollars annually to maintain, fuel, insure, and park their vehicles.

The average cost of owning a car in the U.S. was $10,288 in 2017, 55% more than for the average U.K. driver and 14% more than the average German driver, according to a new study by Inrix, a company that analyzes traffic data. And in some U.S. cities the cost of ownership is even higher.

Inrix calculated the direct costs of car ownership such as maintenance, fuel, insurance, parking and toll fees in 30 major cities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany. It also looked at the indirect costs that come with car ownership, including wasted time, carbon emissions, parking fines, and overpaying for parking.

The winner—or loser, if you’re a car owner—is New York City.

Car owners in New York City spent an average of $18,926 in 2017, mostly due to parking costs, the study found. That figure is nearly two times the U.S. national average of $10,288 in 2017.

On average, New Yorkers parked more and paid more than car owners in other cities. In New York, car owners paid to park 10 times a week. They also paid the most for parking with the average off-street rate of $28 for two hours.

Before getting into the list, it’s worth digging into exactly how Inrix determined direct and indirect costs. Direct costs were calculated by multiplying the annual mileage traveled—a figure supplied by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration—by the IRS-stated per-mile write-off rates that can be claimed when using a vehicle for business purposes. The IRS-stated per-mile rate is 53.7 cents in 2017, reflecting the average cost of running a car. These costs include buying or leasing a vehicle as well as the financing, depreciation, maintenance, insurance, fuel, parking and toll fees, and taxes.

The indirect metric includes the cost of congestion and so-called parking pain. Inrix calculated the time, fuel, and value of carbon emissions from sitting in congestion and searching for parking as well as overpaying for parking (e.g. paying for two hours when only 30 minutes is needed) and parking fines.

The top 10 most expensive U.S. cities to own a car all start with the same direct “car ownership” cost of $7,237. From here, Inrix adds in parking costs as well as the indirect costs of congestion and “parking pain,” three factors that vary depending on the city, to calculate the total cost of driving.

1. New York

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $5,395
  • Congestion: $2,960
  • Parking pain: $3,334

Total cost of driving in New York: $18,926

2. Los Angeles

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $2,405
  • Congestion: $2,808
  • Parking pain: $2,383

Total cost of driving in Los Angeles: $14,834

3. San Francisco

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $2,801
  • Congestion: $2,226
  • Parking pain: $2,361

Total cost of driving in San Francisco: $14,625

4. Washington D.C.

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $2,170
  • Congestion: $2,045
  • Parking pain: $1,846

Total cost of driving in DC: $13,297

5. Chicago

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $2,096
  • Congestion: $1,982
  • Parking pain: $1,576

Total cost of driving in Chicago: $12.890

6. Boston

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $2,045
  • Congestion: $2,075
  • Parking pain: $1,497

Total cost of driving in Boston: $12,853

7. Seattle

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $1,274
  • Congestion: $1,834
  • Parking pain: $1,504

Total cost of driving in Seattle: $11,848

8. Atlanta

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $872
  • Congestion: $2,205
  • Parking pain: $1,264

Total cost of driving in Atlanta: $11,578

9. Dallas

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $723
  • Congestion: $1,671
  • Parking pain: $1,210

Total cost of driving in Dallas: $10,841

10. Detroit

  • Car ownership baseline: $7,237
  • Parking: $815
  • Congestion: $1,251
  • Parking pain: $900

Total cost of driving in Detroit: $10,203

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