The most expensive state to operate a car is ...

Interstate 75 in downtown Atlanta
Dennis Macdonald | Photolibrary | Getty Images
Interstate 75 in downtown Atlanta

The cost of buying and owning a vehicle can vary widely, and not just because of the car or truck you choose but because of where you live. A new study finds that Georgia has become the most expensive state in which to operate a vehicle, while Oregon is the most affordable.

The gap is substantial, with a typical motorist likely to spend twice as much to keep a vehicle running in the Peach State once gasoline, insurance, repairs, taxes and fees are included, found.

Georgia's topping of the list—ahead of more urban states such as New York, New Jersey and California—will probably surprise most people. The Golden State was No. 2, at an annual $3,966 in automotive operating costs.

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Rounding out the top five are
Wyoming, $3,938 a year
Rhode Island, $3,913
Nevada, $3,886

The costliest states have several things in common. With the exception of Rhode Island, they're big, and motorists tend to have to drive a lot. They generally lack mass transit alternatives, and they have above-average prices for gas and insurance.

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Georgia has the highest automobile taxes and fees in the country, noted.

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Georgia and California also have some of the highest repair costs, according to a separate study released in June by Wyoming drivers fared better than average in that category.

One thing that most recent studies agree on is that the cost of ownership is rising steadily—about 2 percent this year from 2012, according to data analyzed by AAA. The organization found that insurance rates were likely to rise 2.8 percent this year, while its own data predicted an 11.3 percent jump in maintenance and repair bills.

Those figures are averages and, as with fuel costs, registration fees and other automotive expenses, the numbers are expected to vary widely by state.

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The national average for operating a vehicle is $3,201 a year, according to, and Oregon lands at the bottom of the list, at just $2,204. Beaver State residents benefit from the lack of a state sales tax, low auto insurance costs and the fact that they drive 16 percent fewer miles than the national average.

The next four lowest-cost states are
Alaska, $2,227 a year
South Dakota, $2,343
Montana, $2,660
Indiana, $2,698

For the complete results for all 50 states, click here.

By CNBC Contributor Paul A. Eisenstein. Follow him on Twitter @DetroitBureau or at