It costs more to drive a new car in the West than in most other regions of the country, a national survey said.
The American Automobile Association found New England the most expensive area for new car owners. The West ranks second followed by the Mid-Atlantic, Southwest and Great Lakes regions.The least expensive regions are the Southeast and Midwest.
AAA's quarterly driving-costs survey determined motorists pay an average of 33.5 cents per mile to own and operate a new car. The second-quarter figure marked a 0.4-cent increase since March 31 and 2 cents higher than the same period last year.
According to the survey, a motorist pays $5,028 annually to drive a new car - $1,290 in annual operating costs and $3,738 in fixed costs.
A rise in insurance premiums and gasoline prices caused the increase in total driving costs, AAA said.
During the second quarter, motorists paid an average 8.6 cents per mile in operating costs, such as gasoline, oil and maintenance. Fixed costs, which include insurance, taxes, depreciation and financing, averaged $10.24 per day.
With gasoline prices shooting up since the Persian Gulf crisis, costs are expected to rise again in the third quarter. A brief survey in August showed costs increasing 20 cents per 100 miles since the crisis.
A state-by-state breakdown of the second quarter figures wasn't available. AAA spokesman Jerry Cheske said the differences between states usually amount to a penney or less. But, he acknowledged, higher insurance rates in California could skew costs in the West.
The survey bases its average cost per mile on the operating and fixed costs of three new American-built cars driven 15,000 miles a year. The three cars are a subcompact Ford Escort LX, a midsize Ford Taurus L, and a fullsize Chevrolet Caprice.