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How Much Does It Cost To Own A Car In California?

    3 minute read

    (Updated August 2019) It’s no secret that California residents love their cars, and it’s not surprising they may pay a lot for the privilege to drive them. Just think about all the traffic and the cost of living in the Golden State. So, how much does it really cost to own a car in California?

    Calculating The Cost To Own A Car

    First, let’s start with how much it costs simply to purchase a new car of average standards in California. Let’s suppose you’re buying a shiny, brand new car that’s powered by gasoline. Let’s also say that it costs the national average of $33,560. As a result of municipal laws, some of the costs cited here will vary on a city-to-city basis, which is why we use averages.

    New Car Total: $33,560

    Use and Sales Tax

    cost to own a car in CaliforniaTypically, a car owner is charged both city and state vehicle use/sales tax when they buy a new car. While these costs can vary widely depending on where you live, the California state tax rate is currently 7.5% on all purchases. You may also be charged up to an additional 2.5% for local taxes. For our example, this equals a cost of $3,356 for state and local taxes if your district charges the maximum percentage.

    New Car Total: $33,560 + $3,356 = $36,916

    Registration Fees

    The average DMV fees in California on a new-car purchase add up to $244. This cost includes the title, registration and plate fees. You will also have to pay a $50 emissions testing fee which is applicable to the sale of a vehicle. There may be other fees you have to pay depending on your district, but for this example we will use $294 as our total cost for registering a new car.

    New Car Total: $36,916 + $244 = $37,160

    Annual Costs To Own A Car

    In addition to the price tag on your new car, you’ll also have the annual costs that come along with owning a car in California. This mainly includes gas, maintenance and Car Insurance. However, these costs will probably be more if your car is older, used or has a lot of mileage on it.


    Needless to say, gas prices can shift dramatically in California. In 2019, the average driving mileage is 14,435 miles per year, the average car mileage is 24.9 miles per gallon, and the current average price of gas in California is $4.09 per gallon. That means that the average cost of gas per mile is $0.16. If you multiply that by 14,435 miles per year, you get an annual total of $2,309.60 spent on gas.

    Annual Total: $2,309.60

    cost to own a carRepairs and Maintenance

    Over time, all the work your car requires takes a toll on your wallet. The average American spends $3,269 per year over the lifetime of their car for repairs, oil and other necessities. With a new car, you may not experience maintenance costs this high, especially if you’re covered by the manufacturer warranty.

    Annual Total: $2,309.60 + $3,269 = $5,578.60

    Car Insurance

    The average cost of Car Insurance in California is $841.45 or $70.12 per month. However, this varies drastically depending on what city you live in and what’s on your driving record. For example, the average annual cost of Car Insurance in Los Angeles is $1,426, while the average annual cost in Santa Maria is $758. To make things simple, we’ll go with the state average and assume you’re a good driver.

    Annual Total: $5,578.60 + $841.45 = $6,420.05

    Grand Total

    So, if you buy a new car and add up the typical annual costs of owning a car in California, your grand total will come out to be $43,580.05.

    car insurance in CaliforniaWant to know how to lower the cost to own a car in California? Speak with an Insurance Specialist at (855) 919-4247 today. We’ll give you a free quote in minutes and find you the lowest rates possible. Plus, we’ll help you qualify for discounts and bundle your policies for a price-break. The cost to own a car may be expensive, but there’s no reason to overpay for Auto Insurance.

    This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements. The definitions, terms and coverage’s in a given policy may be different than those suggested here. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.