The Best States to Buy a Car

New Hampshire, Florida, and Oregon are among the best and cheapest states to buy a car. Click here for the full list.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
If you’re planning to buy a new or used car, New Hampshire, Florida, and Oregon are among some of the cheapest states to purchase one.
Buying a car involves more than picking the vehicle you want and paying the sticker price. It may surprise you that neither the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) nor the dealer’s sticker price on a car is typically what you’ll pay walking out the door. 
That’s because those prices don’t include destination charges, sales tax, state tax, car insurance premiums, and registration fees—all of which differ between states and can shoot up the cost of a vehicle. 
But even minor differences in the price can have a significant effect on your finances. That’s why it’s essential to know the “out-the-door price” of a car before you buy.
With massive regional variations in car prices, budget-minded car buyers are willing to travel out of state to increase the chance of getting a good deal. If you’re looking to save a few bucks (or maybe a few thousand),
Jerry
, the
car insurance
comparison app, is here with the cheapest states to buy a car.
And if you need
cheap car insurance
(or insurance for any other vehicle), Jerry’s got you covered there, too! 
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Best state overall: New Hampshire

If you’re looking for the best (and cheapest) place to buy a car, head to New Hampshire. It’s one of two Northeastern U.S. states that takes the crown for the best state to buy a car. 
That’s because New Hampshire is one of five states that does not have sales tax. That means the sticker price you see on a vehicle is the price you pay walking out the door—no additional taxes and fees are added to the sales price.
Here are a few other reasons why New Hampshire is the best state to buy a car: 
  • There are few additional fees and taxes associated with buying a used vehicle
  • Registration fees are low (with averages between $31.20 and $55.20)
  • New Hampshire insurance rates
    are lower than in most states
With the lowest average annual car ownership and maintenance costs, cheap auto insurance, low registration fees, and no car sales tax, it’s the best state to purchase a car. 
However, before you pack your bags and hit the road to New Hampshire, you should know that only New Hampshire residents can buy a vehicle in the state. You cannot drive to New Hampshire from another state, purchase a new vehicle, and drive home. 

Best state for low unexpected fees: Oregon

Oregon
may be the spot to hit for some of the country’s best wine, but it’s also the best state to avoid unexpected car fees. 
When you buy a car, you pay for more than just the vehicle itself. Before you drive off the lot, you’re liable for state and local sales tax, registration fees, and dealer documentation fees. While some states have a cap on the amount dealerships can charge, many don’t. And because title and registration fees are imposed regardless of your state, shopping around for a car in a state with the lowest fees isn’t likely to provide many benefits. 
However, some states have lower unexpected fees than others—and Oregon is the best state for low unexpected fees. Luckily, the maximum processing fee a dealer can charge is $115 if they don’t use an integrator and $150 if they do. Other states like Alaska and New Hampshire also offer fee-friendly car buying, where fees typically won’t run you more than $360.
On the other hand, California is the worst state for unexpected costs, followed closely by Hawaii. With high sales tax and high gas prices, the initial costs of buying a car can quickly kill your budget. Plus,
California car insurance
rates aren’t exactly low.
Other expensive states with high unexpected fees include:

Best state for low sales tax

If you’re hoping to save on your car purchase, five states do not have sales tax:
Eliminating many of the usual fees associated with purchasing a car can do wonders for lowering the amount of cash you hand over to a dealer up front. Plus, it can significantly reduce your monthly payments if you opt for an
auto loan
In most states, the sales tax rate will be charged upon vehicle registration if it wasn’t paid at the time of purchase. The DMV in your home state will collect this payment regardless of where you purchased the car
For example, if you buy a car in Oregon without sales tax and register it in
Virginia
, you’ll be liable for paying sales tax in Virginia. The only way to truly skirt sales tax is to purchase and register a vehicle in the same state, which may be difficult if you don’t live there.
Alternatively, some states offer the opportunity to purchase a specific type of car without paying sales tax. For example, you may be exempt from sales tax if you buy a
Ford
,
Chevy
, or
Subaru
in
Maryland
,
North Carolina
,
Iowa
, or
South Dakota
. However, these states may charge use or excise tax, which is similar to sales tax.
Although single-digit sales tax on a piece of clothing or food item may not seem like such a big spend, sales tax on a car worth tens of thousands of dollars can be pricey. If you’re unable to get around paying sales tax, certain states have lower sales tax than others, including:

Best state for low car insurance: Maine

Purchasing car insurance is non-negotiable in almost all states as part of the car buying process—and it’s also one of the most expensive recurring costs of owning a car. Not all states have the same regulations and requirements for insurance, and some offer cheaper rates than others. 
Regardless of what state you’re in, certain factors will influence insurance rates:
  • Your zip code
  • Vehicle make and model
  • Road congestion
  • Economic conditions
  • Weather
  • Competition among insurance providers
  • Demographics
  • Driving history
Assuming you have a squeaky clean driving record and you’re not purchasing a supercar worth millions of dollars,
Maine car insurance
is the cheapest. The national average for just liability coverage is $1,627, but your rate will depend on your state. In Maine, the average cost for insurance hovers around $864 per year—hundreds less than the national average.
New Hampshire,
Ohio
,
Idaho
, Virginia, and
Wisconsin
also have some of the cheapest car insurance rates in the country.

Pros and cons of buying a car out of state

If you’re trying to save a dime buying a car by traveling out of state, here are some things you should consider:

Pros

  • A wider selection of vehicles
  • Lower unexpected fees
  • New dealership promotions and incentives 

Cons

  • More complicated process
  • State registration fees and sales tax when returning home
  • Time-consuming
  • Travel required

Finding cheap car insurance for your new (or new-to-you) car

Finding the perfect vehicle is never easy. With so many brands, models, and trim levels to choose from, it can almost be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Not to mention, once you purchase the car, you also have to buy
car insurance
, which can be a lot of money. 
But here’s the thing: finding a good car insurance policy that’s affordable shouldn’t be like pulling teeth. 
Wherever you live, with a bit of help from
Jerry
, finding an affordable policy is simple. Our
trustworthy insurance comparison app
scans rates from over 50 leading insurance providers to help you save money. Sign up in less than a minute to see your offers. 
Here’s how to get started: download the app on your smartphone, plug in your driving details, and scan your personalized quotes. Once you find a policy that works for you and your vehicle, connect with a Jerry expert to lock in your rate and get switched over. 
Best of all, the average Jerry user saves over $800 a year on car insurance—and you can, too! 
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made everything super easy! I got the best and cheapest deals. And it’s my first time buying insurance! What a deal!” —Abby W.
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The cheapest state to buy a car is New Hampshire. On top of being one of five states that don’t have sales tax, New Hampshire also has relatively low unexpected fees for buying a car.
New Hampshire is the best state to buy a new or used car. With no sales tax and relatively low registration fees, it’s ideal for buyers looking to save. Plus, New Hampshire car insurance rates are some of the lowest in the country, which helps keep car expenses to a minimum. 
Florida, Oregon, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin are other cheap states to buy a used car.
If you’re looking for a pre-owned vehicle, the best state to buy a used car is Florida. Used cars in Florida typically run about 10% cheaper than the national average due to an aging population who regularly give up their vehicles.
On the other hand, big spenders who want a bigger, better, and faster car will trade in their vehicles, which means it’s an ideal market for buyers looking for a bargain.
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