Wheel Chasers

Driving Through History: The Evolution of Car Ownership in Idaho

The History of Car Ownership in Idaho

Cars have become an indispensable mode of transportation in our modern world, and Idaho is no exception. The state has seen significant growth in car ownership over the years, with the number of registered vehicles increasing every year.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of car ownership in Idaho.

Early Days of Car Ownership in Idaho

The first automobile arrived in Idaho in 1899, and from there, the car culture began to grow roots. However, it wasn’t until the 1920s that car ownership began to take off.

Back then, owning a car was a luxury, reserved for the wealthy. The working-class could only dream of owning one.

By 1930, only 13% of Idaho households had a car. Rural areas lacked roads, making cars impractical for transportation.

However, the growing number of paved roads in the state made cars more accessible for Idahoans.

The Rise of Car Ownership in Idaho

The introduction of affordable cars by manufacturers such as

Ford and

Chevrolet in the 1940s contributed to a significant rise in car ownership. Idahoans were now able to purchase new cars at affordable prices, making car ownership more of a necessity than just a luxury.

The 1950s saw the emergence of suburbs, and car ownership in Idaho grew as people moved further from the city center. Improved road infrastructure, coupled with the introduction of the interstate highway system, made traveling by car even easier, causing an increase in car ownership in the state.

By 1960, 77% of households in Idaho had at least one car. A decade later, in 1970, the number had increased to 90%.

Today, over 1.2 million motor vehicles are registered in Idaho, testament to the importance of cars in the state.

Automotive Industry in Idaho

The automotive industry in Idaho refers to businesses that manufacture, sell, and service cars and other vehicles. Although Idaho does not have a robust automotive industry, it does have several automobile dealerships, repair shops, and other businesses that revolve around cars.

The state also has several manufacturers specializing in car parts and accessories. Companies such as In The Ditch Towing Products, LLC, which is based in Mountain Home, Idaho, manufactures towing products for the vehicle towing industry.

The Gem State is also known for its off-road vehicle market. With its rugged, mountainous terrain, Idaho offers various terrains perfect for off-road adventures.

This market has propelled the growth of the automotive industry in the state, with businesses specializing in the sale and service of off-road vehicles popping up in various parts of the state.


In conclusion, the history of car ownership in Idaho is fascinating. From a luxury item for the wealthy in the early days to a necessity for the average person, cars have become an integral part of Idaho’s transportation system.

Although the state does not have a robust automotive industry, the various car-related businesses in Idaho, including automobile dealerships, repair shops, and manufacturers, play a significant role in the state’s economy. With the continued growth of the state’s population, it’s safe to say that cars will continue to be a part of Idaho’s future.

The Most Popular Car Brands in Idaho

The Gem State is one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States, and with this growth comes the demand for more automobiles. Idahoans have different tastes when it comes to their choice of cars, with some preferring domestic models, while others prefer foreign-made ones.

In this article, we will take a look at the most popular car brands in Idaho.


According to recent statistics,

Chevrolet is the most popular car brand in Idaho. The American carmaker has been around since the early 1900s and has established a reputable brand name and a loyal customer base in the state.

Idahoans love the reliable and robust nature of

Chevrolet vehicles, with models such as the Silverado and the Tahoe being popular choices among residents.


Ford has been a favorite brand among many Americans for many years, and Idahoans are no exception. The American carmaker has established itself in the state as one of the leading car brands, known for producing high-quality, reliable, and durable vehicles.

Ford’s trucks and SUVs, such as the F-150 and the Expedition, are particularly popular among Idaho’s residents.


Subaru may not be as popular compared to domestic brands such as

Chevrolet and

Ford, but it’s a brand that has been growing in popularity in Idaho over the years.

Subaru vehicles are known for their versatility and unmatched performance, making them a perfect choice for Idaho’s unpredictable weather.

The all-wheel-drive powertrain that comes standard on all

Subaru models wows Idahoans, especially those in rural areas.


Toyota is another popular car brand in Idaho known for producing high-quality and efficient vehicles. It’s no surprise that

Toyota remains a favorite brand in the state, given its diverse model options, including sedans, trucks, and SUVs. Some of

Toyota’s most popular models in Idaho include the Tacoma, 4Runner, and new 2021 RAV4 Prime.

Demographic Breakdown of Car Ownership in Idaho

Idaho’s population is diverse, and so is its car ownership demographic. Understanding the state’s demographic breakdown of car ownership is crucial in predicting car-sales trends and understanding the needs of various customers.

Here’s a breakdown of car ownership by demographics in Idaho.


The age demographic with the highest percentage of motor vehicle ownership in Idaho is those between 45 to 54 years old, with 83.6% of them owning a car. The 75 years and above age group has the lowest percentage of car ownership, at only 56.4%.


Idaho’s car ownership demographics by gender slightly favors male drivers. Approximately 39.6% of the registered vehicle owners in Idaho are women, while men own 60.4% of all registered vehicles.


People with higher incomes are more likely to own a motor vehicle. About 92.3% of households making between $75,000-$99,999 annually own a car.

Those making less than $10,000 annually have the lowest car ownership percentage, with only 28.6% owning a vehicle.


Urban areas in Idaho have a higher percentage of car ownership compared to rural areas. The statewide average for car ownership stands at 75%, with Boise, the state’s largest city, having a car ownership percentage of 80.9%.

In contrast, rural areas such as Adams County have a car ownership percentage of only 62.6%.


In conclusion, the most popular car brands in Idaho include



Subaru, and

Toyota, with each brand offering a unique set of features that appeal to Idahoans’ different needs and preferences. Understanding the state’s demographic breakdown of car ownership is essential for automakers and car dealerships to predict future trends and cater to various customers’ needs.

By analyzing the age, gender, income, and location demographics of car ownership in Idaho, automakers and car dealerships can come up with targeted marketing strategies that appeal to different customer groups and increase car sales.

Factors that Influence Car Purchases in Idaho

Car purchases in Idaho are primarily influenced by the buyer’s needs, desires, and financial abilities. There are many factors that play a crucial role in determining which car to purchase.

In this article, we will delve into some of the most common factors that influence car purchases in Idaho.


Price is the most crucial factor for most Idahoans when it comes to purchasing a car. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to, and the cost of a car is often a deciding factor that influences the final purchase decision.

Idahoans are very cost-conscious, and the price factor ensures that they get their money’s worth when purchasing a vehicle.

Make and Model

The make and model of a car are also important factors for buyers when shopping for a new vehicle. Some buyers have a particular preference for a particular brand, and this can influence their purchase decision.

Most Idahoans lean towards domestic brands such as

Chevrolet and

Ford because of their reliability and the availability of repair services.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is a critical consideration when purchasing a car, given the fluctuating gas prices. In Idaho, buyers prefer fuel-efficient cars that won’t consume too much gas, given the long distances between different locations within the state.

Due to this factor, Idahoans often prefer vehicles with hybrid or electric powertrains and those with smaller engines, resulting in the growing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles in the state.


Safety is another essential factor that influences car purchases in Idaho. With the high speed limits and unpredictable weather conditions, Idahoans often need safe and reliable cars.

Buyers prefer vehicles with a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic

Safety Administration (NHTSA) and with modern safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking, which have become increasingly popular among Idahoans.

Average Cost of Owning a Car in Idaho

The average cost of owning a car in Idaho comprises a range of expenses. These expenses, along with the purchase price of the vehicle, can add up to a significant amount.

Here’s a breakdown of the average cost of owning a car in Idaho.


Idaho has some of the lowest car insurance rates in the country, with the states average premium coming in at $540, which is significantly below the national average of $935. The cost of insurance can vary widely based on factors such as driving history, vehicle type, age and gender, zip code, etc.


Fuel prices in Idaho fluctuate based on the market, with prices often going up during the summer and the holiday season. The average gas price in Idaho in 2020 was $2.27, which was below the national average of $2.60 per gallon.

Maintenance and Repair

Maintenance and repair costs can add up significantly over time, with the average cost for maintaining a vehicle in Idaho coming in at around $500 per year. The cost of repairs can vary based on the make and model, age of the vehicle, and other factors.

Taxes and Fees

Idaho charges several fees and taxes when you buy a new or used vehicle. These fees include sales tax, registration fees, title fees, and license plate fees.

The exact cost of these fees varies based on the value of the vehicle, the buyer’s location, and other factors.


In conclusion, the factors that influence car purchases in Idaho range from price, make and model, fuel efficiency, and safety, among others. Understanding the factors that Idahoans consider when purchasing a car is essential for automakers and car dealerships to provide customers with cars that meet their needs and expectations.

Furthermore, the cost of owning a car in Idaho is impacted by a wide range of expenses, including car insurance, fuel, maintenance, repairs, taxes, and fees. By knowing the average cost of owning a car in Idaho, buyers can accurately budget for the total cost of owning a car, which allows them to make informed decisions when purchasing a vehicle.

The Impact of Weather on Car Ownership in Idaho

Weather conditions have a significant impact on car ownership in Idaho. The state experiences various weather patterns throughout the year, including cold winters, hot summers, and unpredictable spring and fall seasons.

These weather conditions can influence the types of vehicles Idahoans choose to own and drive, as well as the maintenance and care required for their cars.

Winter Conditions

Idaho winters can be harsh, with heavy snowfall and icy road conditions. As a result, many Idahoans prioritize having a vehicle that can handle these challenging winter conditions.

All-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles are particularly popular choices among residents. These vehicles offer better traction and control on slippery and snowy roads, providing an added sense of safety and security.

Additionally, many Idahoans invest in winter tires or snow chains to enhance their vehicles’ performance in icy conditions. Winter tires have superior grip, allowing for better braking and handling on snowy and icy roads.

Regular maintenance checks, such as ensuring the vehicle’s battery is in good condition and the coolant is appropriate for cold temperatures, are also essential to prevent breakdowns during extreme weather.

Summer Conditions

Summers in Idaho can be scorching hot, with temperatures often exceeding 100F. The hot and dry climate can pose challenges for cars, such as overheating and increased wear and tear on tires.

Consequently, Idahoans tend to prioritize vehicles with effective air conditioning systems and proper cooling mechanisms. Regular maintenance, such as checking the coolant levels and ensuring the radiator is functioning correctly, is essential to prevent engine overheating.

Additionally, Idahoans often look for vehicles with durable tires that can handle the hot pavement and retain grip in high temperatures.

Spring and Fall Seasons

Idaho’s spring and fall seasons can bring unpredictable weather conditions, ranging from heavy rain to sudden temperature fluctuations. These changing weather patterns can affect road conditions and create hazards for drivers.

As a result, Idahoans often value vehicles with good handling and stability to navigate these varied conditions. Road clearance is also a consideration during these seasons, as heavy rain can lead to flooding, and fall foliage can create slippery road surfaces.

Idahoans may opt for vehicles with higher ground clearance and capable suspension systems to tackle these challenges.

The Availability and Accessibility of Car Service and Repair in Idaho

Ensuring the availability and accessibility of car service and repair is crucial for Idahoans’ car ownership experience. Having access to reliable and convenient car service is essential for regular maintenance, repairs, and emergencies.

In Idaho, there are various avenues for car service and repair, ranging from dealerships to independent repair shops.


Car dealerships are a primary source of car service and repair in Idaho. These authorized service centers offer comprehensive maintenance and repair services specifically catered to the brands and models they sell.

Idahoans who prefer to have their vehicles serviced by professionals trained in their specific car brand often choose to utilize dealership services.

Dealerships also often provide warranty work for new vehicles, ensuring that any covered repairs are taken care of promptly and correctly.

Independent Repair Shops

Independent repair shops are also prevalent in Idaho and offer a range of services for various makes and models. These repair shops may specialize in specific types of repairs, such as engine work or tire services, or provide comprehensive services for all types of vehicles.

Independent repair shops often provide competitive pricing, personalized care, and quicker turnaround times compared to dealerships.

Mobile Mechanics

Mobile mechanic services have also gained popularity in Idaho, offering convenience and flexibility for car owners. These services provide on-site repairs and maintenance, eliminating the need for car owners to bring their vehicles to a physical location.

Mobile mechanics can perform a wide range of services, including oil changes, battery replacements, and even minor repairs. This option is especially useful for those with busy schedules or individuals who may find it challenging to bring their vehicle to a repair shop.

Parts Availability

Ensuring the availability of car parts is essential for efficient and prompt repairs. In Idaho, auto parts stores and dealerships provide a wide range of parts for various makes and models.

Many of these businesses have online platforms, making it easier for customers to order parts and have them delivered or ready for pick-up. Additionally, there are also numerous online retailers that offer a vast selection of car parts, providing even more options for Idahoans seeking specific components.


The impact of weather on car ownership in Idaho is evident, with Idahoans choosing vehicles that can handle the state’s harsh winters and intense summers. Having the appropriate vehicle, maintenance, and care are essential for ensuring safe and reliable transportation throughout the year.

In terms of car service and repair, Idaho offers a range of options, including dealerships, independent repair shops, and mobile mechanics, providing flexibility and convenience for car owners. With the availability of various service providers and parts, Idahoans can maintain their vehicles and address repairs promptly, ensuring their cars stay in optimal condition.

The Most Popular Car Models Driven in Urban vs

Rural Areas of Idaho

Idaho is a diverse state with both urban and rural areas, each with its own unique characteristics and transportation needs. The preferences for car models can vary significantly between these two regions.

In this article, we will explore the most popular car models driven in urban and rural areas of Idaho.

Urban Areas

In urban areas such as Boise, Idaho Falls, and Coeur d’Alene, compact and fuel-efficient vehicles are often preferred due to the higher population density, limited parking spaces, and shorter commutes. Here are a few popular car models commonly seen in urban areas of Idaho:

Toyota Corolla: The

Toyota Corolla is a compact sedan known for its reliability, fuel efficiency, and practicality. It offers a balance of affordability, comfort, and safety features, making it a popular choice among urban dwellers in Idaho.

Honda Civic: The Honda Civic is another top choice among urban car owners. It is widely recognized for its excellent fuel economy, comfortable ride, and reputation for long-term durability.

The Civic’s compact size makes it maneuverable in city traffic and easy to park. Volkswagen Golf: The Volkswagen Golf is a versatile compact hatchback that appeals to those seeking a balance between practicality and sporty performance.

With its responsive handling and ample cargo space, the Golf is a popular choice for urbanites who desire a bit more excitement in their daily commute.

Subaru Crosstrek: While technically a crossover SUV, the

Subaru Crosstrek’s compact size and good fuel economy make it well-suited for urban environments. Its all-wheel drive capability is particularly appealing to Idahoans who value versatility and safety, especially during the snowy winter months.

Rural Areas

In contrast to urban areas, rural regions of Idaho often require vehicles with more rugged capabilities, larger cargo space, and enhanced off-road capabilities. Here are some popular car models frequently seen in rural areas of Idaho:

Chevrolet Silverado: The

Chevrolet Silverado is a full-size pickup truck that appeals to those living in rural areas. Its towing and hauling capacity, along with its durability, make it a preferred choice for Idahoans who need a vehicle capable of handling rugged terrain, outdoor activities, and agricultural work.

Ford F-150: The

Ford F-150 has consistently held the title of America’s best-selling vehicle for years. Its powerful performance, towing capabilities, and versatility have made it a popular choice among rural car owners in Idaho.

The F-150’s durability and reliability make it well-suited for challenging rural environments. Jeep Wrangler: The Jeep Wrangler, with its iconic design and off-road capabilities, is a beloved choice among outdoor enthusiasts living in rural parts of Idaho.

Its four-wheel drive system, ground clearance, and rugged construction make it well-equipped to tackle rough terrains and provide adventurists with the freedom to explore Idaho’s scenic landscapes.

Subaru Outback: The

Subaru Outback, a mid-size crossover, strikes a balance between urban practicality and rural versatility. Its spacious interior, all-wheel drive system, and reputation for reliability make it an appealing choice for rural residents who require a vehicle with ample cargo space for outdoor gear and the ability to handle challenging road conditions.

The Environmental Impact of Cars in Idaho

While cars provide essential transportation for many Idahoans, they also have an impact on the environment. Understanding the environmental consequences of car usage is crucial in promoting sustainable transportation practices and reducing emissions.

Here are some key environmental impacts of cars in Idaho:

Air Pollution: Vehicle emissions contribute to air pollution, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter. These pollutants can have detrimental effects on local air quality and contribute to health issues such as respiratory problems.

Particularly in heavily-trafficked areas like Boise, efforts to promote electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as public transportation alternatives, can help mitigate air pollution. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Cars are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), which contributes to climate change.

Many Idahoans rely on personal vehicles for daily transportation, and reducing emissions requires transitioning to fuel-efficient vehicles or alternative forms of transportation. Idling and Congestion: Traffic congestion and frequent idling in urban areas can lead to increased fuel consumption and emissions.

Smart city planning, improved public transportation options, and encouraging carpooling and telecommuting can help alleviate traffic congestion and reduce the environmental impact of idling cars. Sprawl and Land Use: The expansion of urban areas and increasing car dependence contribute to urban sprawl, resulting in the loss of natural landscapes and increased infrastructure needs.

Promoting mixed-use developments, supporting public transit systems, and enhancing walkability and bike infrastructure can help mitigate sprawl and its associated environmental impacts. Electric Vehicles (EVs): Transitioning to electric vehicles can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the reliance on fossil fuels.

Idaho has been making strides to increase the adoption of electric vehicles by expanding charging infrastructure, providing incentives, and promoting renewable energy sources for charging.


The most popular car models driven in urban areas of Idaho tend to be compact, fuel-efficient vehicles, while rural areas see a preference for larger, rugged vehicles with off-road capabilities. Understanding these preferences is crucial for automakers and car dealerships to cater to the specific needs of different regions.

Additionally, it’s important to address the environmental impact of cars in Idaho. Efforts to promote sustainable transportation practices, such as encouraging the use of electric vehicles, improving public transportation, and implementing smart city planning, can help minimize the environmental consequences of car usage and create a more sustainable future for Idaho.

Idaho Laws and Regulations Related to Car Ownership and Operation

Car ownership and operation in Idaho are governed by various laws and regulations to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Understanding these laws is crucial for Idahoans to comply with the state’s requirements and maintain a legal and responsible approach to car ownership.

Here are some of the key laws and regulations related to car ownership and operation in Idaho:

Vehicle Registration: Every motor vehicle in Idaho must be registered with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). Upon purchasing a vehicle or moving to Idaho, owners have 30 days to register their vehicle and obtain a license plate.

Proof of ownership, identification, and payment of registration fees are typically required. Driver’s License: Idaho law requires all residents who operate a motor vehicle to have a valid driver’s license.

New residents have 90 days to obtain an Idaho driver’s license after establishing residency. The process typically involves passing a written knowledge test and a driving skills test.

Insurance Requirements: All motor vehicles operated in Idaho must be covered by liability insurance. Drivers are required to carry proof of insurance in their vehicles and present it upon request by law enforcement officers.

The minimum liability coverage required by law is $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person, $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people, and $15,000 for property damage. Seat Belt Laws: Idaho has primary enforcement seat belt laws, meaning law enforcement officers can stop and ticket drivers solely for not wearing seat belts.

All drivers and passengers, regardless of age or seating position, are required to wear seat belts. Children under the age of six must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system.

Child Passenger

Safety Laws: Idaho law requires children younger than six to be properly secured in an approved child safety restraint system. Children aged six to 17 must be secured in a child restraint system or seat belt, depending on their height and weight.

Violations of these laws can result in fines and penalties. Distracted Driving Laws: Idaho prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices while driving, with exceptions for using devices in hands-free mode and for emergency calls.

Texting while driving is strictly prohibited for all drivers. Violations of distracted driving laws can result in fines.

DUI/DWI Laws: Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are serious offenses in Idaho. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers is 0.08%.

Enhanced penalties apply for drivers with a BAC of 0.20% or higher or for repeat DUI/DWI offenses. Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) may be required for certain offenders.

Future of Car Ownership Trends in Idaho

The future of car ownership trends in Idaho is influenced by various factors, including advancements in technology, changing demographics, and evolving attitudes towards transportation. Here are some key trends that may shape the future of car ownership in Idaho:

Electric Vehicles (EVs): The adoption of electric vehicles is expected to grow in Idaho and across the United States.

With their lower environmental impact and increasing range capabilities, EVs offer a sustainable alternative to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. Idaho’s expanding charging infrastructure and incentives for EV adoption are likely to contribute to the growth of electric vehicle ownership in the state.

Autonomous Vehicles (AVs): Autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars, have the potential to transform transportation systems in the future. While widespread adoption and deployment of AVs may take time, ongoing research and development indicate that these vehicles will become more common on the roads in the coming years.

Idaho may see advancements in AV technology, which could impact car ownership and the way people travel. Car-Sharing and Ride-Sharing: Car-sharing and ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, have gained popularity in many urban environments.

These services provide convenient transportation options without the need for full car ownership. As Idaho’s urban areas continue to grow, car-sharing and ride-sharing may become more prevalent, offering residents flexible alternatives to traditional car ownership.

Alternative Transportation Modes: The emphasis on sustainable and active transportation modes, such as walking, cycling, and public transit, is increasing in many cities, including Boise. As Idaho’s population grows, investing in infrastructure that supports these alternative transportation modes can encourage a shift away from private car ownership and promote a more interconnected and eco-friendly transportation network.

Changing Demographics: Demographic shifts, such as an aging population and the rise of the millennial generation, can influence car ownership trends. Older adults may seek vehicles with advanced safety features and accessibility modifications, while younger generations may prioritize access and convenience over car ownership, relying on a combination of public transit, car-sharing, and other mobility services.


Idaho’s laws and regulations regarding car ownership and operation play a vital role in ensuring safety and accountability on the roads. Complying with these regulations is essential for Idahoans to maintain legal and responsible car ownership practices.

Looking ahead, the future of car ownership in Idaho may be shaped by the rising adoption of electric and autonomous vehicles, the emergence of car-sharing and ride-sharing services, an increased focus on alternative transportation modes, and changing demographic preferences. By staying informed and adaptable, Idahoans can navigate the evolving landscape of car ownership trends and contribute to a more sustainable and efficient transportation system.

Tips for Buying a Car in Idaho

Buying a car is an important decision, and knowing the right tips can make the process smoother and more successful. Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to upgrade your current vehicle, consider the following tips for buying a car in Idaho:


Determine Your Budget: Before starting your car search, determine how much you can afford to spend on a car. Consider not only the purchase price but also ongoing expenses such as insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs.

Setting a budget will help narrow down your options and prevent overspending. 2.

Research Car Models: Research different car models to find the one that best suits your needs and preferences. Consider factors such as size, fuel efficiency, reliability, safety features, and resale value.

Online resources, consumer reviews, and professional ratings can provide valuable insights to help you make an informed decision. 3.

Consider Idaho’s Climate and Terrain: Idaho’s diverse climate and terrain should be taken into account when selecting a car. If you live in a

Popular Posts