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Gas prices not only factor in cost of car ownership

| Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

DETROIT — When figuring out the cost of car ownership, consider where you live as well as with how much you drive.

In Georgia, the average driver spends $4,233 per year to operate a car or truck, according to online service Bankrate.com, more than $1,000 above the national average. The Peach State was the most expensive for two reasons: High taxes and fees charged on vehicles, and the sprawling Atlanta metro area with long commutes that use up a lot of gas, according to the study.

To do the study, Bankrate calculated state taxes and fees, average repair costs, gasoline costs including commuting distance, and insurance cost per vehicle.

Drivers can't do much about taxes and fees. But there are ways to cut down on gasoline and insurance costs, and to avoid costly auto repairs.

Consumer Reports magazine said that drivers can follow their cars' maintenance schedule to hold off costly repairs down the road. To save on gas, consumers can buy more efficient vehicles, accelerate slowly from stop lights, combine trips so they drive less, and keep tires fully inflated so they roll better.

Saving on insurance is a bit more complex. Before you buy a car or truck, check to see what its loss rates are. Vehicles with high loss rates inflict a lot of damage on other cars, are costly to repair and have higher injury rates in crashes than other vehicles, said Jeff Blyskal, senior writer at Consumer Reports. Large SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid generally have lower loss rates than expensive sports cars such as the Ferrari California convertible.

You can save on insurance by making sure you're getting all available discounts, especially if you don't drive a lot. Most companies offer discounts to consumers who buy a car and homeowners policy from them.

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