Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am

On The Road

Study shows cost of driving increases $400 this year


New research from the American Automobile Association reports that the average annual cost of owning and operating a new car has climbed nearly $400 over last year. The primary reason: higher fuel prices.

The 2010 edition of AAA’s annual “Your Driving Costs” study estimates the overall cost of owning and operating a typical new sedan at 56.6 cents per mile, up 2.6 cents compared with 2009. For a car driven 15,000 miles a year, that amounts to $8,487 annually. That’s $392 more than last year’s estimated cost of $8,095.

AAA estimates driving costs based on an extensive list of factors including gasoline, maintenance, tires, financing, depreciation and insurance. Gas prices in the study are based on the late-2009 AAA Fuel Gauge Report price per gallon of $2.60, up 30 cents compared with 2008. That’s a 12.7 percent increase over the prior year.

The average gas price in California in March was $3.08, an 88-cent increase compared with last year. Drivers may experience regional differences in their overall cost of driving based on varying fuel prices and other factors.

“Paying more at the pump is not only increasing the operational costs of vehicles, but it’s also affecting depreciation values,” said Matt Skryja, spokesman for AAA Northern California. “With the growing appeal of more fuel-efficient vehicles, small sedans are experiencing less depreciation and holding their value longer. On the flip side, there are notable rises in depreciation costs with categories of less fuel-efficient vehicles.”

AAA’s driving costs study examines average operating and ownership costs of five top-selling models. They include small, medium and large sedans, four-wheel drive SUVs and minivans. AAA’s research shows the annual average cost of driving a small sedan is $6,496 per year, while a large sedan costs $10,530 per year.

SUV owners, whose vehicles typically get lower fuel economy, saw their average operating costs increase to 73.9 cents per mile, or $11,085. That’s an $826 jump compared with last year.

Minivan costs also rose. They rose 3.2 cents per mile to 62 cents per mile, or $9,301 yearly. Rises in depreciation increased the cost of owning large sedans, SUVs and minivans.

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