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The familiar (and hidden) costs of owning a car in DC

Parking fees make up a large part of the total costs of operating a car in the D. C area. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

WASHINGTON — Anyone who owns a car knows it’s expensive to own one in the D.C. area, but a new study shows the cost of parking makes up one of the largest chunks.

And traffic congestion drives up the cost to drivers dramatically.

The new study by INRX, a transportation analytics company, found that D.C. is the fourth-most-expensive city in the country for drivers, averaging $13,297 annually.

New York City tops the list, with a total annual driving cost of $18,926, followed by Los Angeles at $14,834 and San Francisco at $14,625.

By contrast, parking annually in 10th-ranked Detroit costs $815, out of an annual driving cost of $10,203.

Direct costs — including the cost of buying or leasing a vehicle, depreciation, maintenance, insurance, fuel, parking and toll costs, and taxes — average $9,407 in D.C., according to INRX.

Indirect costs consist of time and fuel consumed and value of carbon emissions generated by sitting in congestion and searching for parking, in addition to overpaying for parking and parking fines.

The indirect costs for D.C.-area drivers in the INRX study are $3,891.

INRX provides connected car data to developers of parking apps.


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