WASHINGTON (AP) _ Consumers spend roughly $6 billion a year fixing their cars when states could shave the expense by repairing roads instead of building new ones, according to a highway survey released today.

The Surface Transportation Policy Project said drivers spend $5.9 billion annually on car repairs resulting from poor road conditions. At the same time, state highway departments spend $2.7 billion fixing those same roads, the group said.

``As a result, drivers spend twice as much fixing cars damaged by poorly maintained urban highways as states spend of their flexible funding to repair those roads,'' the group wrote.

The report was released less than four months after President Clinton signed a new $203 billion national transportation bill. It calls for spending $167 billion improving, widening and extending the nation's highway system, and another $36 billion improving mass transit systems.

``Yet if past practice is any guide, many states will continue to choose new road construction over repairing the existing roadways,'' the report said.

The Surface Transportation Policy Project is a coalition of 175 local and national organizations interested in transportation policy.