How inflation is impacting cost of buying, owning and maintaining a car

An expert says in the Bay Area, gas money is eating up anywhere from 3% to 4.6% of peoples' monthly income.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022
How inflation is impacting cost of buying, maintaining a car
As inflation hits every area of consumers' lives, vehicles are no exception. Here's how prices are rising on cars, gas, insurance, and maintenance.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- New cars are expensive these days, up more than 12% from last year at this time. Used cars prices are going up even faster, with prices up more than 40% from a year ago. Buying a car just may be the easy part; owning, driving and maintaining one will cost you plenty, too.

The website FinanceBuzz has been looking at how much we pay for gasoline state by state.

"Drivers in your area could be expected to spend over 3% of their monthly income on gas alone," says Finance buzz's Rebecca Wright. "SUV drivers or pickup truck drivers, they're 4.6% of their monthly income, which is insane."

Vallejo resident Rebecca Fisher agrees with that assessment. She and her husband are spending more on gas than they have ever spent before.

RELATED: Gas prices hit highest recorded average ever in Bay Area, AAA reports

"So last month alone I paid $600," says Rebecca Fisher, "and that's with my husband working from home three days a week."

And what's even more amazing -- California drivers could count themselves lucky. They spend more for gas at the pump, but it is often a smaller portion of their budget than for those living in other states.

Finance Buzz's Rebecca Wright says, "It's almost sort of surprising that California is actually not up there in the top 10 of states who are spending the most percentage of their income against gas prices."

Those living in the southeast earn less and drive farther, making gasoline a larger percentage of their budget -- as much as 5%.

VIDEO: Gov. Newsom proposes $400 rebate for all CA car owners; free public transit for 3 months

Gov. Gavin Newsom. announced a new $11 billion proposal aimed at easing the pain at the pump.

Now let's talk about auto insurance. has been looking into auto insurance pricing and says it is a cost that is flying under the radar.

"You know it's kind of an instance here of inflation hiding in plain sight," says Bankrate's Sarah Foster, "because if it becomes more expensive to pay for the new car after an accident or to repair your vehicle, that's all going to result in your insurance getting more expensive and we're starting to see that now."

RELATED: Price of 1 gallon of gas will get you 'basically anywhere' in Bay Area on BART, official says

How much more? In California, again, we pay more upfront, but because our average incomes are higher and state regulations control pricing, the budget pinch is less than in other states.

"While drivers are spending a little bit less than 1.9% of their annual income on car insurance," says Sarah Foster, "the average premium that they pay in San Francisco is pretty close to $2,200 a year. So that's higher than the national average."

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