Car Costs with Parking and Congestion Highest in NYC, LA, SF, D.C. Chicago & Boston

Car owners agree that cars are expensive, however paying for parking  an the time lost in congestion  can add up quickly, especially in big cities. INRIX calculated car costs with the parking and congestion to conclude that New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Chicago are the most expensive to park, drive and be stuck in traffic.

On the local level, New York City was the most expensive city for drivers out of the 30 cities studied. In 2017, the total cost of driving in NYC was nearly two times the national average at $18,926 per driver, mostly due to the cost of parking. New Yorkers parked more often (10 times/week), paid more frequently (60 percent) and paid the most (average off-street rate of $28 for two hours). At $10,203 per driver, Detroit had the lowest total cost of car ownership mostly due to cheaper on-street and off-street parking rates. 

Rank City Direct Costs* Indirect Costs** Total Cost
of Driving
Car Ownership Parking Congestion Parking Pain
1 New York City $7,237 $5,395 $2,960 $3,334 $18,926
2 Los Angeles $7,237 $2,405 $2,808 $2,383 $14,834
3 San Francisco $7,237 $2,801 $2,226 $2,361 $14,625
4 Washington D.C. $7,237 $2,170 $2,045 $1,846 $13,297
5 Chicago $7,237 $2,096 $1,982 $1,576 $12,890
6 Boston $7,237 $2,045 $2,075 $1,497 $12,853
7 Seattle $7,237 $1,274 $1,834 $1,504 $11,848
8 Atlanta $7,237 $872 $2,205 $1,264 $11,578
9 Dallas $7,237 $723 $1,671 $1,210 $10,841
10 Detroit $7,237 $815 $1,251 $900 $10,203


INRIX Cost of Driving Index – Country Results
The average U.S. driver faced a total driving cost of $10,288 in 2017, which was 55 percent more than the average U.K. driver and 14 percent more than the average German driver. However, U.S. drivers use their cars more than their German counterparts (13,467 miles driven annually in the U.S. and 8,709 miles driven annually in Germany), but the congestion impact is smaller.

Country Direct Costs Indirect Costs Total Cost
Car Ownership Parking Congestion Parking Pain of Driving
U.S. $5,645 $1,607 $1,642 $1,394 $10,288
U.K. $4,260 $1,244 $1,398 $1,337 $8,239
Germany $4,376 $1,062 $2,347 $1,556 $9,341


Thankfully, there are solutions to alleviate some of these costs through awareness and technology. Applying big data to create intelligent connected car services is key to solving mobility problems, which will reduce the economic impact of congestion and parking pain. INRIX leverages vehicle connectivity, advanced parking management, dynamic data for city planning and traffic flow optimization to make it safer, cleaner, more convenient and more enjoyable for people to get to where they need to go.


The direct Cost of Driving includes parking and car ownership charges. INRIX Research calculated car ownership costs by multiplying the annual mileage travelled from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) by the IRS stated mileage rates that can be reclaimed when using a vehicle for business purposes – $0.537 in 2017. This figure is updated annually and is designed to reflect the average cost of running a vehicle in the U.S. Multiplying this by the average annual mileage provided by the FHWA provided an estimate of the annual cost of running a car. Car ownership costs include:

  • Purchasing or leasing a vehicle including finance costs
  • Depreciation in the value of the vehicle
  • Maintenance and servicing including tires
  • Insurance
  • Fuel
  • Parking and toll fees
  • Taxes

The indirect Cost of Driving includes the cost of congestion and ‘Parking Pain’:

  • Time, fuel and value of carbon emissions generated by sitting in congestion
  • Time, fuel and value of carbon emissions generated by searching for parking
  • Overpaying for parking (e.g. putting 2 hours in when you need 30 minutes)
  • Parking fines

All data except the car ownership costs come from INRIX data sources. All analysis performed by INRIX Research.

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward.