Chart of the Day: Top 10 States for Vehicle Repair Costs over Time

Via Ritholz and the Wall Street Journal, here’s a chart showing estimates of annual vehicle maintenance costs for different US states, as well as the national average:

vehicle-repairs chart

My gut feeling is that part of this is because the average age of vehicles is increasing, and has been for a decade. People now own their cars for nearly twice as long as they did 15 years ago. Surely that entails many more maintenance costs.

But there’s probably something to the idea that deteriorating roads lead to automobile maintenance costs… Here’s the punchline from the WSJ article:

Using an infrastructure-specific inflation measure, the CBO estimates that in real terms highway spending by federal, state and local governments —which totaled $165 billion in 2014—has fallen by 19% from its peak in 2002. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says it would cost $740 billion to meet current demand.

Much of the cost is being transferred to individuals and businesses in the form of added vehicle repairs. “The consequence is that we’re all paying more to maintain our cars,” said Genevieve Giuliano, a transportation policy expert at the University of Southern California.

 

(On the other hand, the story also quotes the American Society of Civil Engineers, a group that might tend to overestimate the social benefits of road investments.)

 


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10 Responses to Chart of the Day: Top 10 States for Vehicle Repair Costs over Time

  1. Mike Hicks August 28, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Hmm. So salt means nothing? I’m a bit dubious.

  2. Alex Schieferdecker
    Alex Schieferdecker August 28, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    I can’t say I made much of this chart. There’s no clear threat between the different states, and the number swings are so extreme, it’s hard to even know what I’m looking at. Surely the purpose of the graph is not to show that Mississippi roads have nearly halved in quality in two years?

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke August 28, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

      Yeah I think it’s pretty dumb. Feel free to send in or post better charts in the future!

  3. Matt Brillhart August 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

    “My gut feeling is that part of this is because the average age of vehicles is increasing, and has been for a decade. People now own their cars for nearly twice as long as they did 15 years ago. Surely that entails many more maintenance costs.”

    Maybe…partially. But I’m skeptical. New cars today are pretty much maintenance free for at least 5 years (or more) depending on how and how much you drive (aside from the obvious like oil changes and tires, brakes, etc.) I wouldn’t read too much into it.

    • Matt Brillhart August 28, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

      To add a data point to the debate, I did crack a wheel on a pothole last winter, which cost nearly $400 to replace. That’s more than I’ll pay in gas taxes in like 3 years, with how little I drive. So yeah, PLEASE raise the gas tax and fix the damn roads. To the individual driver, shitty pothole-filled roads are not worth saving a few pennies at the pump.

      • cobo Rodreges September 2, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

        I drive about the national average (12K/year).. And I agree completely.

        Raise the Gas tax to about the average rate for developed countries!

        Have roads at least mostly pay for themselves so that there’s more money for better uses.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman August 28, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

      Cars are getting fantastically complicated and requiring specialized knowlege to fix. Half the time when something breaks its a power window, airbag sensor, ABS, or something that’s not essential to moving the car and maybe didn’t even exist not so many years ago.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman August 28, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

      I still recall my salesman looking in horror at the close to 70,000 miles on my father’s trade-in in the 1980s. Nowadays one car I bought had 110,000 miles on it and one had 150,000, although these were true SUVs, so they should last longer since they’re overbuilt for ordinary driving. The one I bought at 150,000 I got close to 250,000 before an accident totaled it.

  4. David Markle
    David Markle August 29, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    Not such a bad graph; seems to mainly plot degree of road maintainance.

  5. michael lee September 15, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

    Thank you for the chart bill! It is so nice to compare the states alongside the over-all country, in regards to what you call a “rough ride”, road crews are for sure becoming more important. And I love how you mentioned the average age of vehicles, I found that to be a meaningful insight to the economy as a whole and the ingenuity of the newer generations. Going forward i will most definitely take this into account when thinking about road crews and var maintenance.