The cost of owning a car in the United States has gone up nearly 2% in the past year to $9,112, according to an American Automobile Association (AAA) study.
The “Your Driving Costs” study found the average cost of owning and operating a sedan in the United States was 60.8 cents a mile, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.
Although many factors contribute to the cost of owning and operating a vehicle, the driving factors in the higher cost during the past year are maintenance, fuel and insurance.
Maintenance costs up 11.26%
Vehicle maintenance of sedans reflected the single largest percentage increase — 11.16% to 4.97 cents a mile. AAA based its estimate upon the maintenance costs and repairs performed for five years and 75,000 miles. This includes labor expenses, replacement part prices and extended warranty policy purchases.
Fuel increases 1.93% in past year
Compared to last year, gasoline prices were relatively stable so sedan owners saw a 1.93% increase to 14.45 cents a mile on average.
The average cost of regular grade fuel (used by most of the study vehicles) actually rose 3.84%, from $3.36 to $3.49 a gallon. However, several vehicles in the study had small improvements in their fuel economy ratings that partially offset the fuel cost increase.
Fuel costs in the 2013 study were calculated using the national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2012.
Tire costs remain unchanged
Tire costs remained the same in the past year — about 1 cent a mile. Price stability is attributed to the leveling off of raw materials, energy and transportation costs from factories to distributors..
Depreciation costs rise slightly
After seeing a drop in 2012, motor vehicle depreciation costs rose slightly less than 1% to 3,571 a year in 2013. This may be attributed to recovering new-vehicle sales, and more affordable older, used models.
Cost to operate other vehicles
The cost to operate other vehicles per year generally is higher than the average for all sedans. They are (cost per mile in parenthesis):
Small sedan: $6,967 (46.4 cents)
Medium sedan: $9,151 (61 cents)
Large sedan: $11,248 (75 cents)
Sedan average: $9,122 (60.8 cents)
SUV (with 4-wheel drive): $11,599 (77.3 cents)
Minivan: $9,795 (65.3 cents)
How the study is conducted
AAA has published “Your Driving Costs” since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents a mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents a gallon.
The study uses a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation, and finance charges.
Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Vehicle owners’ actual operating costs may vary.
The local Triple A
The local Triple A serving Shelton is AAA Southern New England, a nonprofit auto club with more than 3 million members. The Hamden-based organization has 46 offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.