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By Paul A. Eisenstein

Maybe the midnight train to Georgia would be a cheaper alternative?

The cost of buying and owning a vehicle can vary widely, and not just because of the car or truck you choose but also according to where you live.

A new study finds that Georgia has become the most expensive state in which to operate a motor vehicle – while Oregon is the most affordable.

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The gap is substantial, a typical motorist is likely to spend twice as much to keep a vehicle running in the Peach State once factors such as gasoline, insurance, repairs, taxes and fees are added in, the website Bankrate.com found.

The results of the study might come as a surprise, particularly with Georgia landing at the top of the list at an average cost of $4,233 per vehicle per year – above more urban states such as New York, New Jersey and California. Actually, California wound up second on the list, at an annual $3,966 in automotive operating costs. Rounding out the top five were Wyoming, at $3,938, Rhode Island, at $3,913; and Nevada, at $3,886.

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Several factors seem to unite the most expensive states. With the exception of Rhode Island, they’re big and motorists tend to have to drive a lot. They generally lack mass transit alternatives and they have above-average gas prices and insurance costs. Georgia, in particular, has the highest automobile taxes and fees in the country, notes the new Bankrate.com report.

Georgia and California also have some of the highest repair costs in the country, according to a separate study by CarMD.com released in June, though Wyoming drivers fared better than average in that category.

One thing that most recent studies agree about is that the cost of ownership is going up at a steady pace – about 2 percent this year over 2012, according to data analyzed by the AAA. The insurance and travel organization found insurance rates likely to rise by 2.8 percent for 2013, while its own data predicted a whopping 11.3 percent jump in maintenance and repair bills.

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Those figures are averages, as with fuel costs, registration fees and other automotive expenses, the numbers are expected to vary widely from state to state.

The national average for operating a vehicle is $3,201, according to Bankrate.com, and Oregon lands at the bottom of the list, just $2,204 annually. Residents of the Beaver State benefit from the lack of a state sales tax, low auto insurance costs – and the fact that they drive, on average, 16 percent fewer miles than the national average.

The next four lowest-cost states are: Alaska, at $2,227; South Dakota, $2,343; Montana, $2,660; and Indiana, $2,698.

You can find results for all 50 states at: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto/car-ownership-costs-by-state.aspx