Hawaii And California Are The Worst States To Own A Car

Car ownership in Hawaii.
Car ownership in Hawaii.
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)

We’ve had the debate time and again about which state has the worst drivers, but today, we’re going to look at something slightly different: the states where owning cars just sucks. And top on the list are California and Hawaii.


WalletHub recently conducted a study to determine which states are the worst for owning cars based on tons of different factors: congestion, road quality and conditions, cost of ownership, likelihood of theft, and all that good stuff. The real life factors that make having a car a lot more difficult in practice than in theory. WalletHub factored in 31 different variables to create its score.

I can’t say the results are particularly surprising. Hawaii tops out the list as the very worst state in which to own a car, followed by California, Washington, Maryland, and Delaware.

Hawaii kind of makes sense. An isolated island, Hawaii has few repair shops and car wash stations, gas and maintenance are pricey, and cars are frequently stolen. After all, owning a car in Hawaii can be kind of pointless—it’s not like you can take it very far without driving it into the ocean.

California, on the other hand, actually crushed it in a few of the subcategories analyzed by WalletHub. It had the best weather of any state, for example, and featured the most repair shops per capita. But we all know the horror stories about highway congestion and the stupidly high cost of ownership for cars in California, which conspired to cut down all the good.

And I’ll be honest: anyone who’s driven around the East coast knows those roads are bad. It’s not only expensive to own a car, but you’re also frequently driving on roads designed for the meandering horse and buggy of ye oldene dayse. It’s not great.

So, what about good states to own a car? We’d be remiss not to mention the top five, which are: Texas, Indiana, North Carolina, Iowa, and Tennessee.


The funny thing about these states is that they don’t often top the subcategory lists of variables analyzed by WalletHub—they’re just consistently pretty good. Which, if you think about it, is kind of the ideal when it comes to car ownership: as long as you can pay reasonable prices for maintenance and gas, know your roads will be pretty good, and can expect that your car probably won’t be stolen, you’re in the clear.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



Any state with annual inspections and/or emissions testing is not a good state to own a car.

It might be a better place to live, depending on your definitions of such things, but it’s undeniably an annoyance to car ownership and a burden on poor people.