Apparently, some care more for their cars than they do for their families. According to DC Streets Blog, the average American spends $2,536 dollars annually on the health and well-being of each vehicle owned, nearly as much as we spend on healthcare and insurance for each humanoid member of the family.
We at Bundle wanted to know which cities were the most car-crazy — those who love their cars like (or more than) family. To do so, we examined all households which had a credit card transaction at standalone car wash or detailing facilities for the 50 largest cities in the US. Then we determined average spend by these households at those facilities, and indexed all of the cities to the average to derive a “car crazy” status.
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A city that has some of the worst traffic in the country, Los Angeles ranked the most car crazy city in America. L.A. residents spend 133 per cent above average on pampering their cars, making the city of the stars certifiably car-crazy. Los Angeles wasn’t the only Californian city that made our list: San Jose (#4), San Francisco (#6), and Oakland (#8) are all certifiable as well. We’re not surprised this state takes its cars so seriously. With cities that are spread out, on coastlines, and easy to drive around, having a car — and upkeeping it — in The Golden State makes sense.
Why did Honolulu, HI rank #2 at 39 per cent? While its bus and trolly systems are reliable and convenient, much of the island is separated geographically by ridges and other geographical obstacles. Getting around Honolulu-proper is do-able by bus, but if these residents travel outside of the city, driving is a must. Having a sturdy, well-kept car is important in a state with rough terrain, and having a clean car is important for a city whose residents spend much of their time at the beach. There are no subways, trains, light rail or cabs readily available in this city.
Though it’s a city in which cars are discouraged, we can understand the reasoning behind New York, New York coming in at #3. In this concrete jungle, having a car more often than not proves to be an expensive inconvenience as opposed to an easy way to travel between destinations. However, as New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world, while they may not be washing their cars as often as L.A. residents, New Yorkers are paying through the roof for these services. What’s more, New York’s stellar public transportation system, less-than-stellar traffic, and relatively small circumference are all reasons not to have a car. Though it is only 15 per cent car-crazy, for a city where cars are discouraged, New York impressed us.
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Next is San Jose at 8 per cent, and following is Omaha, NE at 7 per cent. Omaha is a unique city because it was designed to combine the beauty of parks with the pleasure of driving cars. Specific boulevards and parkways contribute to this system, making cars an important aspect of Omaha culture.
As you’ll see in the infographic below, midwest cities take their cars in for a wash or detail the most. Wichita, KS (51 per cent above the average wash number) is home to the Starbird-Devlin Rod & Custom Charities Car Show, which is 55 years running. The cities that spend the most on keeping their cars clean are mostly near coastlines.